NEW YORK – The series took longer than expected but the Hawks finally put away the Brooklyn Nets Friday night with a 111-87 win at Barclays Center, closing out their first-round series four wins to two. The Hawks showed more in this win than in any of the previous three. In fact, this probably was their best performance in several weeks.
For a link to the game column on MyAJC.com, click here. Here are my three “short takes” on the game.
1. It starts with Jeff Teague: He didn’t score a point, going 0-for-5 from the floor. It was his first scoreless game since a playoff game against Orlando in April of 2011 (when he played only 1 minute, 43 seconds). But coach Mike Budenholzer and teammate Kyle Korver were among those to single him out for praise for the way he controlled the game with his defense (two steals; Brooklyn’s Deron Williams was limited to 13 points), ball-handling (only one turnover) and passing (13 assists). When Teague plays like this, the Hawks are a very difficult team to beat. It should be a fun match-up of point guards in the next round between Teague and Washington’s John Wall.
2. Millsap: Shoulder, what shoulder? When I asked Hawks forward Paul Millsap before Friday’s game how his shoulder was, he said, “It’s fine, you know,” and he smiled. I laughed and responded, “I’m not even sure why I asked you,” given athletes are never going to be completely honest. But Millsap had his best game since returning from a bruised and sprained shoulder, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals. If he is ailing, he didn’t play like it.
3. DeMarre Carroll: MVP? It’s no coincidence the Hawks’ only bad quarter (second) came when Carroll was sitting on the bench with three fouls. He was the team’s most consistent player in the series and he finished with 20 points (7 of 8 shooting) and five rebounds. Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins, who coached Carroll in Memphis, called the small forward, “The MVP of the series.” Carroll appreciated the designation from his former coach but deflected credit. One thing is certain: Carroll, who has had a career season and will be an unrestricted free agent, is going to get some major contract offers in the offseason and it’s going to be difficult for the Hawks to keep him.
•A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox — MyAJC: Finally, the good Hawks show up for series clincher — AJC: LIVE: Hawks hope to finally close out Brooklyn — AJC: On Falcons’ draft, trading up, Bruce Irvin and Gurley question — MyAJC: Dan Quinn determined to fix pass rush after past Falcons’ whiffs — MyAJC: Hawks’ regular-season afterglow is long gone — MyAJC: Hawks being visited by ghosts of playoffs past — AJC: Short takes: Hawks seem to have lost their cool, shooting touch — MyAJC: Hawks’ Horford is coming up short against Nets’ Lopez — AJC: Short takes: Hawks off-target, lose and give Nets hope — MyAJC: Hawks know it’s playoffs and style points don’t matter — AJC: Hawks in Brooklyn knowing they need to think sweep, not split — MyAJC: Braves’ starting pitching is coming up short — AJC: Braves swept by Mets, as Teheran is latest starter to struggle — AJC: Hawks’ sale positive but does Gearon’s role ensure Ferry’s exit? — AJC: Poll: Should Falcons pursue Adrian Peterson, Randy Gregory? — MyAJC: Falcons’ risk-reward scale may tip in new direction — AJC: Budenholzer wins coaching honor, and it shouldn’t have been close — AJC: Millsap, Sefolosha, Horford — what’s going on with Hawks? — MyAJC: Hawks need a better Millsap for long playoff run — MyAJC: Budenholzer knows what playoff success is all about — MyAJC: Hawks hoping to leave Atlanta playoff wreckage behind — AJC: Hawks lose lottery pick but get better playoff match-up: Nets — MyAJC: Jordan Spieth: Perfect champion, perfect story