Bazemore in, Carroll still standing and Hawks say they’re ready

Jeff Teague gets off a shot with Cavaliers’ shirts covering the seats while the Hawks conduct shoot around at Quicken Loans Arena before game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Jeff Teague gets off a shot with Cavaliers' shirts covering the seats while the Hawks conduct shoot around at Quicken Loans Arena before game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Jeff Teague gets off a shot with Cavaliers’ shirts covering the seats while the Hawks conduct shoot around at Quicken Loans Arena before game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

CLEVELAND — The Hawks are two losses away from the offseason. They’re also four wins away from reaching the NBA finals, and as illogical as that scenario sounds — defeating LeBron James and Cleveland in four of the next five games after losing twice at home — they’re not in surrender mode, yet.

“We don’t want to end the season like this,” DeMarre Carroll said before this morning’s shoot around. at Quicken Loans Arena. “But we’re only down 0-2. The media is going to make it bigger than it is. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and let the rest take care of itself.”

My view: I don’t believe the Hawks have much left in the tank and their inconsistency in the postseason and drop off in offense stems in part from fatigue and injuries. For a full column, click here to go to MyAJC.com. There’s some good stuff from players, including Kent Bazemore who said the team should have “put up a bigger fight” than they did in Game 2 Friday night.

Here are a few updates going into tonight’s game at Quicken Loans Arena.

• Bazemore will start for Kyle Korver, who is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a high ankle sprain. It’s not a surprise given that Bazemore and Carroll are the two primary defenders on James and Carroll isn’t at full strength.

Bazemore isn’t nearly the shooter Korver is — at least when Korver is shooting well — so the change creates potential spacing issues for the offense. But coach Mike Budenholzer said he hopes to compensate for that with “more movement, more cutting, more slashing, maybe screening, randomness. We do it with Kyle also but it becomes more imperative that we play that way.”

Bazemore said of his start: “Just go out there and play. On the road, Game 3, backs against the wall. Just let it all hang out. Go out and play some hoops.”He also didn’t back off some post-game comments when he said, “I still think we’re the better team.” His follow-up: “I believe. I believe in our season. I’m a very optimistic person. I still think we haven’t played our best basketball so we’re going to try to come out and do that.”

• Carroll is playing with a badly sprained left knee but has no intentions to pull himself out of the lineup, despite suggestions from friends that he should look out for his future with free agency coming. I’m standing here,” he said when asked about his knee. “I put myself out there to help my team, whatever it takes. I know my knee is nowhere near 100 (percent). But at the end of the day if I’m out there I’m going to give it my all and hopefully my team has my back.”

On why he’s playing: “I’ve been getting a million calls and emails about me, why am I there, this might be the biggest contract of my life. But at the end of the day this game isn’t promised to you. So whenever you’ve got an opportunity to play basketball, a lot of people say it’s bigger than money and it feels like that to me. I cherish this game and I want to be out there fighting, and if I have to fight on one leg, I’m gonna fight on one leg. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. Eastern Conference finals, playing against LeBron James. I don’t care if I have to do it on one leg, I’ll hobble out there.”

• Jeff Teague, spreading the sunshine: “We have a good chance to do something special. We have a competitive group. … It’s fun playing basketball. It’s the Eastern Conference finals, we’re going to enjoy it. It’s an opportunity for somebody. Somebody is going to step up and have a big moment tonight.”

• Las Vegas doesn’t share the Hawks’ optimism. Cleveland is a nine-point favorite.

Recent ramblings
— MyAJC: Hawks have been running on fumes for a while
— AJC: These really were the throwback Hawks — and that’s not good
— MyAJC: Carroll’s clean MRI alone won’t fix Hawks’ problems
— AJC: Carroll’s MRI negative, game status still uncertain
— MyAJC: So many negatives won’t work in this round for Hawks
— AJC: Game day: Hawks need Korver to find scoring touch
— MyAJC: Is Hawks’ sum greater than one LeBron?
— AJC: Odds say Cleveland, but when have odds ever said Hawks?
— AJC: Hawks in conference finals — and so is Josh Smith
— MyAJC: Mike Budenholzer’s leadership may continue to grow
— MyAJC: Hawks finally reach East’s promised land
— AJC: Short take: Pierce foiled, Teague finishes strong, Hawks move on
— MyAJC: Hawks in East finals would make Atlanta top 10
— MyAJC: Hawks in one win from higher elevation
— MyAJC: Hawks come through when it matters most
— AJC: Short takes: Horford comes through, Teague bows out
— MyAJC: Desperation shouldn’t be Hawks’ prime motivator
— MyAJC: Brady, Patriots got what they deserved
— AJC: Another lesson for Brady, Patriots: Don’t cheat, don’t lie
— MyAJC: Jalen Collins determined to make Falcons’ pick look good
— AJC: Wall’s injury shifts odds in Hawks’ favor for game, series
— MyAJC: Braves’ McDowell trying to repair some damaged egos

Reader Comments 0

34 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Well, well, well. The Hawks actually woke up and gave some effort. 


Taking the Cavs to overtime! I never saw that coming. I thought 100% they roll over n die

moboman
moboman

That SOB Delavadova tried to roll Horford too.  They need to put Antic in to take his head off on a pick.

Pieroghi Guy
Pieroghi Guy

If one or two of the Hawks big men start playing with the intensity which Tristan Thompson plays, things could get interesting.  And 100% effort is one thing every player has complete control over.  Whereas Thompson  has been a beast, I've seen no such beastly efforts on the part of the Hawks bigs.  I don't understand it.  Unlike some others, I do not believe the Hawks regular season effort to be a mirage.  Why the effort is not there on every possession is a mystery to me.  If they cannot getup for this series, then I have to wonder what the heck is going on.  I don't doubt they are fatigued and of course injured..  But, at this point, all the remaining four teams are.  Perhaps somebody who follows the Hawks day in day out can explain this very good team's inexplicable lack of effort.  Again, I don't get it.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

As risk of looking like a typical Atlanta fool, I'm thinking the Hawks play their best game of the playoffs tonight and win.  Despite the Hawks totally inept offensive performance, the Cavs haven't been able to break 100 yet.  If the Hawks find the ability to play offense for 4 quarters they win.  Nothing special required.

McGarret
McGarret

What the hell I'll go down with the ship as opposed to jumping off. Go bench. Rise up. Maybe in the absence of Korver that will spark some motivation. I don't think this team will just roll over anymore. If they at least come out and compete. Just play. That's enuf for me. Show some heart some pride.

Pieroghi Guy
Pieroghi Guy

As a Cavs fan, I'd like to offer my perspective on a few things -


Coach Bud - I do not feel like he is doing a bad job.  I do not see him trying to call a timeout when he has none.  As for the lineup and rotation, he can only work with what he has.


LBJ - I do indeed understand the great frustration of seeing a superstar being allowed to play under a different set of rules.  Cavs fans hate Jordan to this day because of the so called "Jordan Rules".  Whereas I admit my bias may not allow me to fully see it, I do not see a valid comparison between the "Jordan Rules" and the "LeBron Rules".  In fact, I don't see any favoritism for James by the refs.  The 2 quick fouls assessed to James in the first quarter seem to act as a counter point to the existence of any "LeBron Rules".  However, I will be the first to admit that I am looking at this through wine & gold colored glasses.  If I'm wrong, then the "LeBron Rules" are every bit as deplorable as the "Jordan Rules".


Hawks fans - I'm glad to see that Hawks fans are as engaged and knowledgeable as Cavs fans are.  Makes for a more interesting and fun playoff experience.


Hawks - I look at this team and see a very good team lacking a very good big man, or preferably two.  These Cavs would be nowhere without Mozgov and Thompson. It's a fallacy to think that a team can win without dominant skilled big men.  They open everything up for the smaller players on the floor with their scoring, shot blocking and rebounding.


Just my 2 cents worth. btw, I expect the Hawks to win one of these games in Cleveland.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@Pieroghi Guy The LeBron Rules are not as bad as the Jordan Rules but it's bad enough.  Dude gets away with many push offs (including elbows to ribs), carries, and travels.  But he's not the first, Jordan wasn't the first, and they are just two of many stars who have had beneficial experiences.


That said, the Lebron Rules are not the reason the Cavs are up 2-0.  The Hawks crap offense is the biggest reason.


Hopefully the birds will make it a series tonight!



korverfan
korverfan

Did LeBron James intentionally injure DeMarre Carroll in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals when he casually “nudged” the driving Carroll as he went in for an open path layup?

Only LeBron knows.I would bet that he didn’t intend to “injure” him.Just like most alcoholics who drive while impaired don’t really mean to kill anyone.

The reason that I call it open-path is that there was nobody between Carroll and the basket and Mr. James NEVER even feigned an attempt to try to block the shot with a hand.

The call not made should have been open-path violation or a Flagrant I.

What we can know with absolute certainty is that he meant to at least put him (DC) on the floor.

So although he did not commit “knee-murder”, he is certainly guilty of ” knee-manslaughter”.

Who are accessories to the ”crime”?

You guessed it. Ref 1, Ref 2 and Ref 3 and throw in the NBA head office as well.

No one seems to have the kahonies to call out LeBron.

They are so concerned that if LeBam fouled out that a sizeable number of viewers would change over to KUWT Kardashians and then they might have to lower their advertising rate by a miniscule amount.

This allows the very few “top” players to get away with at least man-slaughter.

As a result the money-grubbing culture inevitably leads to DeMarre writhing on the floor.

If this were a hockey game, LeBoom would have been put into the middle of next week by the teams “enforcer”.

In the NBA you can get tossed for “glaring” at someone.

The Hawks need to do the bull-fighting ole move on LeBang and let him go down on his tail-bone a few times. OUCH!!

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

@korverfan  It's clear path and you're in denial about the officiating and like all of the Hawk players, you're intimidated by LeBron. Try to grasp this, the Cavs are playing their "B" team against Atlanta.  Please note Carroll has been a no-show in these playoffs though I greatly admire his courage and will to return to the slaughter after being hurt.

korverfan
korverfan

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR @korverfan  I don't think that anyone will stop LeBron and company because he is awesome and it is clear that Cleveland is the better team at the present time.  But there is a double standard applied to LeBron's play by officials and he most likely does not need the assist so why is he allowed to constantly hammer away with impunity? The integrity of the game is lowered by the obvious favoritism granted to James. And how is it that you know what "America" wants? Jerk

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

I live in Atlanta and at least I can acknowledge the fact that America just wants the Hawks to go away.  They are brutal to watch and are stinking up the conference finals with bad play, punk fouls, poor coaching, and lack of energy.  Every Atlanta Hawk player is scared stiff of LeBron and the Cavs.  Look at their eyes and start with the Coach.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I like Carrol's comments. Now let's fight! Go Hawks !!

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

@JeffreyEav  Yes, good comment.  Let's fight (now that the series is over).  Non-factor Carroll is a good one to quote for sure.

Fierce
Fierce

Again, we'll see how they back up their talk. I don't think they will, but you never know. It's pretty much been proven in 2 games that you need to have a superstar in order to advance to the finals. Not only do the refs and the league favor superstars, but believe it or not, those kind of players are pretty good too. Hopefully this season is a step towards a brighter future. 

ZackR
ZackR

@Fierce

There always has to be a little reference to some NBA conspiracy whenever NBA fans start talking about their losing team.  The Hawks are getting killed in this series, and it's due to basketball reasons, not some league or referee conspiracy. 

ATLSportsRiseUp
ATLSportsRiseUp

@Fierce  I can't stand people who whine about officiating.  The Hawks have played terrible and have no one to blame but themselves.  Is it the refs fault the Hawks can't make a wide-open jump shot?

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

@Fierce  If the Hawks do flame out in 4 games, all that will be remembered from this year is playoff failure.  They were lucky to catch teams with their superstars hurt and out but still couldn't take advantage of the "gifts" they were handed.  It was this year or never for the Hawks. 

merbertmoover
merbertmoover

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR what a dumb comment.  "all that will be remembered is playoff failure?"  not for me and thousands of other fans who've had a blast this year.  i don't really understand the point of your numerous pessimistic posts.  what's the point?

ATLSportsRiseUp
ATLSportsRiseUp

It's been a fun ride but the Hawks season is all but over.  Maybe they will get lucky and lure a superstar free agent one day, but I'm not holding my breath.  You can't win a championship with Al Horford as your best player.

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

@ATLSportsRiseUp  Not sure you can win a championship with Al Horford and a team of superstars.  He did make a great play against the short-handed Wizards in a miracle finish though that helped them sneak by that series.

Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31
Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31

Back in late 80's early 90's mostly because they didn't have much bench it was not unusual for the starting "Iron 5" of the Boston Celtics to play the entire game. When they did sub it was usually 1 bench player.


Parrish, Bird, McHale, DJ, and Danny Ainge routinely played the entire game, game after game after game. That's why they were called "the Iron 5".


Not buying this fatigue argument.


I will buy the argument that Milsap needs serious shoulder surgery, Horford and Demarre are banged up and Korver done for the season. Only 1 uninjured starter cant do it all.


Coach Bud is to blame for playing that looser Pero Antic way to much and not using Mike Scott before now because he is mad at Scott for some reason.


Hawks need a BIG man in the middle, a true center, but everyone knows that.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31

QUIET, jerk!

You're the idiot who proclaimed Sap's injury "season ending" over a month ago. You have less than zero credibility on here.

Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31
Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31

@DawgNole And your the one that loves to keep reading my posts lol. Milsap will be in Florida at Dr James Andrews office by the end of the week. Why do you think he cant hit free throws? Why do you think their is Braille on the drive up ATM machines?

TruthSpeaketh
TruthSpeaketh

Smile Jeff. 2 more games then you get a 4 month vacation making millions! 

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

@TruthSpeaketh  Teague checked out early in Game 1, look at this face and expression.  He wants to be ANYWHERE else but in this series.

Sidslid
Sidslid

Worn down? Fatigue? Steph Curry handles the ball 35 minutes plus a game and went for 40 last night. From Fratello to Woody, same old story. Outcoached in the postseason.

freezboy
freezboy

@Sidslid Fact is this team is emotionally and physically spent...no shame in that....Hawks too little....

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

Hawks need more than optimism.  They need a super-duper-star--and perhaps a new conditioning coach.  That much is clear by now.