Well, that didn't go well.
The Atlanta Hawks fell victim to an all-time shooting barrage from the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2, and as a result, Mike Budenholzer and his team are in a daunting 0-2 hole in the series. Make no mistake, the Hawks contributed greatly to their own demise in Cleveland, but at the same time, the Cavaliers had a look of a team that simply couldn't be topped given their shooting in Game 2, and that leaves the door cracked a bit for a semblance of realism as the series shifts back to Atlanta.
Unfortunately, the Hawks weren't exactly lighting it up offensively in the first two games, and that might be the more enduring problem. Atlanta failed to crack 40% from the field combined (46.8 eFG%) and the frontcourt pairing of Al Horford and Paul Millsap joined together to make only 17 of their 47 field goal attempts in the first two games. The team's 3-point shooting was reasonable at 36% overall, but much of that good work came in the blowout stage of Game 2, leaving a real question as to whether those looks can be generated under more normal circumstances.
Of course, the defense is the more glaring issue, even from an outsider's perspective. The Cavaliers are shooting 52.6% from three in the series to this point and while, again, some of that is out of the control of the Hawks, there have been far too many open looks. It will be interesting to see Budenholzer's game plan for the third contest, as there have been many calls for Atlanta to give up on the approach that allows LeBron James to basically distribute freely in favor of a plan that would force the game's best forward to become more of a one-dimensional scorer.
The Cavaliers are the more athletic and talented team and that, of course, is a problem, but execution can overcome that and the Hawks are still fully capable of winning one or, potentially, both home games over the weekend to make things very interesting. Atlanta was deeply wounded in Game 2, but this is a veteran group that can be relied on for a significant effort in front of the home crowd, and after that, there is a wide range of possibilities.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest from Philips Arena.
Game Date/Time: Friday, May 6, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM