The Hawks’ opened the second round of the playoffs with a 104-98 loss to the Washington Wizards. The game column will be posted soon on MyAJC.com. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game:
1. Failing to buck history: Here we go again? Sunday’s loss came in the first game of potentially a seven-game series. But no Hawks’ fan can ignore history. The franchise hasn’t won a second-round series since it was based in St. Louis and won the NBA title in 1958 (in those days, only four teams made the playoffs and the finals were the second round). Since moving to Atlanta, the Hawks are 0-13 in second-round series and now 15-53 in second-round games. This was a game they let get away, having held double-digit leads, including 12 points (65-53) early in the third quarter. But they scored fewer points in the second half (35) than they did in the first quarter (37). That kind of fizzle doesn’t create great foreshadowing.
2. Going cold: Some of the post-game narrative was that the Hawks settled for too many outside shots, which is true. But the fact remains that they missed a number of open jumpers they could have easily hit and blown up that narrative. They made 14 of 22 shots (64 percent) in the first quarter but only 22 of 76 (29 percent) the rest of the game, and it wasn’t because of great pressure defense by the Wizards. DeMarre Carroll had a 21-point first half, three points in the second. The team hit 9 of 17 three-point attempts in the first half, 4 of 21 in the second. “You can’t scored 35 points in the second half and beat a team like that,” Carroll said. Actually, you can’t score 35 points in the second half and beat almost any team.
3. Problem 1: Bradley Beal: The Wizards’ guard was the player of the game, finishing with 28 points and returning after a bad ankle sprain in the fourth quarter when he stepped on Al Horford’s foot. So coach Mike Budenholzer’s first defensive adjustment may have to focus on what do with the Beal-Kyle Korver matchup on defense. Beal’s biggest concern coming into the series was neutralizing guard John Wall and Washington’s fastbreak. But that wasn’t an issue in Game 1. The Wizards scored on 14 fastbreak points (the Hawks’ 22) and the Hawks held their own in the rebounding department (Washington 54-52). There actually was a lot of things for the Hawks to be happy about — well, except their shooting and the result.
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