One-man basketball won’t win it for Hawks in playoffs

**** SECONDARY PHOTO **** 042416 BOSTON: Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer (left) and guard Jeff Teague react to falling to the Celtics 104-95 in overtime in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series on Sunday, April 24, 2016, in Boston. The Celtics victory ties the series two games to two heading back to Atlanta for game five. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer (left) and guard Jeff Teague react to falling to Bosto 104-95 in overtime in Game 4 of their playoff series Sunday night. The Hawks lost despite 45 points from Paul Millsap and now are tied in the best-of-seven series at 2-2. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

The better team isn’t the better team.

The better team is the one that had a 42-point game from one player on one night and clutch performances from several other players two nights later. The better team is overachieving relative to the level of its talent, just like it did through most of the regular season, while the underachieving Hawks are …

What exactly?

It’s 2-2. The Hawks did this last season in the first round of the playoffs, twiddling their thumbs and losing a pair of road games against the Brooklyn Nets before snapping out of it to win the series.

That may not happen this time. The rebound, I mean.

They got 45 points from Paul Millsap and not much from anybody else. Their other four starters: 33 points on 11 of 47. So much for you-just-don’t-know-who-to-guard basketball.

This is how you blow a playoff series. The Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 16-point, second-half deficit, had five players in double figures and didn’t botch a key possession at the end of regulation (see Jeff Teague), scored another for franchise playoff domination of Atlanta on Sunday. Final score in overtime at TD Garden: Celtics 104, withering Hawks 95.

One coach, Brad Stevens, is getting the most out of his players.

One coach, Mike Budenholzer, isn’t.

Referencing Millsap’s dominating performance, Budenholzer said, “We needed a little bit more, collectively all of us, a little more to help Paul tonight.”

Kent Bazemore 2 of 10. Al Horford 2 of 8. Kyle Korver 3 of 11. Dennis Schroder 3 of 13. Teague, notwithstanding a couple of late 3-pointers, 4 of 18.

The game never should have reached overtime. The Hawks blew a lead but still had 15 seconds left for a final possession in regulation with the score tied at 92. The final play called for Teague to wait for a fake screen by Korver, with the idea it would create a lane for Teague to drive to the basket. But the Celtics didn’t bite on the fake and Teague waited too long — way too long — to make a move against Isaiah Thomas.

Time on the clock with Teague made his move: 2.6 seconds.

Then the ball slipped out of his hands. He never got a shot off.

In overtime, the Hawks missed 10 of 11 shots. Clutch, baby.

Teague on the last play: “The ball slipped out of my hand.”

Did you want to wait until there only three seconds left?

“We wanted the last shot.”

Do you feel you let this game get away?

“Yeah.”

Maybe you wondered if the Hawks had a chance to win a second-round game against Cleveland. Better start to wonder if they’ll win another one against Boston.

The Hawks went on a Millsap-led 14-0 run to start the third quarter and take their biggest lead at 62-46. But that 16-point advantage was trimmed to three (73-70) going into the final period and TD Garden was rocking like the old Boston Garden (albeit with air conditioning that actually worked, and no visible rats).

The Hawks appeared doomed after Jonas Jerepko – nobody’s pick as playoff key performer — dropped in a 3-pointer and gave Boston a four-point lead with 1:22 left. Teague was 1 of 10 before hitting a pair of threes to put the Hawks ahead at 92-90. But Thomas tied it with a drive and then came the botched final play, sending it to overtime.

The Celtics had all of the momentum.

The Hawks had all of the thumbs.

“No one else really got in the flow of the game,” Korver said. “We probably got a little stagnant, just trying to get him the ball because (Millsap) was on such a roll. We talk all the time how we don’t want to play that way.”

This is the playoffs. Are these things supposed to happen?

The most positive sign for the Hawks was Millsap. He shot 4 of 21 in the previous two games and totaled 26 points in the previous three of the series. He had that by halftime. Millsap’s 45 was one off his career high, but he went scoreless in overtime.

“I just put an emphasis on being aggressive,” he said, but took the blame himself for not doing more.

Hey, he’s the last one who should accept blame.

Budenholzer predicted before the game, “Paul’s going to take a lot of the onus on himself and I think he’ll be great tonight and moving forward.”

He was right about Millsap. But one player wasn’t enough.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Reader Comments 0

13 comments
DarrynLee
DarrynLee

Game 4 for the Hawks was truly a one-man game. Other than Millsap, only Muscala shot the ball well, and he only took three shots. You definitely not going to win when the rest of your main players are: 


Bazemore 2-10 fg, 1-6 3s


Horford 2-8, 1-3


Korver 3-11, 3-9


Teague 4-17, 3-9


Schroder 3-13, 1-6 

RamonMendoza
RamonMendoza

This problem doesn't stop with the Hawks. Welcome to Atlanta.

C O'Neal Black
C O'Neal Black

There's not enough fight in this team. The same problems that were present during the regular season are showing themselves in the playoffs.

Philip Brown
Philip Brown

I've endured this for nearly 40 years now. Didn't watch a second yesterday. Same exact song, different verse.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Teague has a very low basketball IQ.  Shows up once every four games.  Goes through the motions the rest of the time.  Looks like he is pouting or something.

miked706
miked706

The way this team is built, they will never win a championship.  I hate when people say the Hawks are the Spurs of the East.  The Hawks don't have a Tony Parker, Lenard or Duncan.  They have superstars on the Spurs and we have OK players on the Hawks.  They keep putting the ball In Teague's hand at the end of the game and he keeps blowing it.  He is not a clutch player that can win a game.  The team will continue to win 45+ games but will never win a championship until we get a superstar player to take the last shot. 

DixieRoss
DixieRoss

Did anyone really think this wasn't going 6 or 7?  Both teams had their chances, and both teams fought hard, if not well.  A few more shots fall at home... 


BUT, how many times have we seen one guy be able to carry a team scoring 40 or more on the Hawks?  I'm afraid Thomas' 40+ trumps Millsap for the series.


Did anyone notice how pissed Millsap looked on the bench after regulation?

TOJacket
TOJacket

Well it works for the Cav's!

WPL
WPL

If the hawks don't beat Boston tuesday, the celtics will play cavs in the second rd of playoffs. In a tie basketball game with 15 seconds left and the hawks can't even get off a shot, that is piss poor performance.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Let's not forget the vaunted defense.   They let Isaiah Thomas score 42 in Game 3.   Then with a 92-90 lead and 20s left in game 4, they literally let Thomas drive through the whole team for a layup.  He blew buy his man and split 3 defenders at the rim.   Horford did his best matador defense impression, almost literally jumping out of the way while swiping at the ball.   And people wonder why many don't want the Hawks to hand him a big contract this summer.

MikeS777
MikeS777

This Hawks team just isn't playing like a team anymore.   The Celtics are beating them at their own game.   The Hawks aren't even looking to make the extra pass anymore.   There is no flow to this offense right now.   They stand around in 4 corners, someone drives, then kicks it back out for a missed 3. 

The Hawks took FORTY-THREE 3pt shots this game, and only hit 12.   That's a lot of wasted possessions.   They went 9-36 in game 3 from the 3pt arc.  Tie ball game with 15s left and the Hawks were going to settle for another 3.   Teague stood there until less than 5s to play, so there was no time to drive.

They now have a bunch of guys that think they are Kyle Korver. Someone needs to sit these guys down, remind them there's life inside the 3pt arc, and remind them how to move and pass the ball.

The 3 pt shot is a total bail out for the defense.   Its the worst percentage shot in basketball, and I guarantee Boston would love for anyone but Korver to continue jacking up 3's.  They will win this series if that happens.

GASports
GASports

Mike I wish you could've coached these guys cause coach Bud has lost them.

Hawks don't have anyone else that's a pure shooter besides Korver and Hardaway.

They'll NEVER win a championship with this group jacking up threes. THEY CANNOT SHOOT AS A TEAM