I get it. I really do.
The Atlanta Hawks were unequivocally blasted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday, to the point where the top-seeded Cavs set an NBA record for three-pointers with 25. At times during the fourth quarter, Cleveland was unabashedly launching three-point attempts in pursuit of the aforementioned record, and in the heat of the moment, members of the Hawks took exception with the tact of their opponent.
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com spoke to Paul Millsap, who had this to say:
"It's a certain way of being a professional. I'm not mad about it, but just being professionals man. If that's how you want to approach it, that's how you approach it. I think our team and our organization has class and I don't think we would have continued to do that, but other organizations do other things so what can you do about it?"
Then, Kent Bazemore weighed in on the situation, again in speaking with Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
"I'm a firm believer in karma. Maybe we'll be the team to break that record soon. Everyone knows how they play. They get out in front and they're a totally different team. It is what it is. We'll see them again. That wasn't Game 4. That was only Game 2. They still have to beat us two more times before they can really celebrate anything."
Al Horford also took part in the conversation, firing a quote to Haynes that included "we probably wouldn't do anything like that" and, in general, no one from the Hawks seemed particularly pleased.
With all of that said and out of the way, this is a bad look for Atlanta.
As mentioned previously, I totally understand why the Hawks said these things. It was quite clear to observers that Cleveland was going out of their way to get three-point attempts up at the rim in the final moments, and that was unusual given the wide spread between the two teams on the scoreboard. However, that significant margin is the reason that Atlanta's roster should probably just take their collective medicine in this spot.
Regular and long-time readers would probably note that this sentiment is a bit unusual in this space, especially coming from me. I tend to shy away from this sort of topic and, as a general rule, the Hawks have a roster that steers clear of any real controversy by NBA standards. Still, these comments struck me in odd fashion.
Atlanta was housed in Game 2 in a way that we rarely see in the postseason, and that is the simplest explanation for why this took place. This is my personal view, but in a moment of clarity, the trio of players referenced above might consider walking these comments back as "in the heat of the moment", and even if Millsap, Horford and Bazemore are right in the grand scheme, their remarks make it seem as if the Hawks were sore in defeat.
Of course, the best (and, really, only) way to "get back" at the Cavs for what took place in Game 2 is to play (much) better and respond with a win in front of the Atlanta crowd on Friday evening in Game 3. Until then, though, members of the Hawks roster are in a rare position where they made statements that were actually controversial.