Hello, Game 4. Goodbye, Hawks’ season? History says yes

Hawks forward Paul Millsap signs autographs before playing Cleveland in Game 4 of a second-round playoff series at Philips Arena Sunday. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Hawks forward Paul Millsap signs autographs before playing Cleveland in Game 4 of a second-round playoff series at Philips Arena Sunday. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Welcome to potentially the last game of the Hawks’ season. Down 3-0 to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals, it wouldn’t be accurate to say they have zero chance today against the Cavaliers (3:30 p.m., Philips Arena). But that’s certainly the way to bet. Cleveland is a five-point favorite as a road team.

More importantly, consider these trends:

• This is the sixth time in franchise history the Hawks have trailed a best-of-seven playoff series 3-0. In each of the previous five occasions, they lost Game 4 and were swept. Two of the five came against Cleveland. Chronologically: 1970 in the Western Division finals against Los Angeles (lost on the road 133-114); 1999 Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks (lost on the road 79-66); 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals against Cleveland (lost at home 84-74); 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals against Orlando (lost at home 98-84); 2015 Eastern Conference finals (lost on the road 118-88). To recap, the losing deficits were 19, 13, 10. 14, 30.

• The Cavaliers are 6-0 all time in Game 4’s when leading 3-0. That includes last year’s first round against Boston, the conference finals against the Hawks and this year’s first round against Detroit.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he again will go with Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup and bring Kyle Korver off the bench. That worked for three-plus quarters, when the Hawks led by as much as 11 points. But nothing made a difference down the stretch when the Cavs turned it on — and I’m not sure it’s going to make a difference today.

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7 comments
TOJacket
TOJacket

Hawks held there own.......hard to get a victory when your players aren't as good as the other teams........that's why UGA usually beats my Jackets........difference is Cavs will play for the Ship and the dawgs will play in the Family Dollar Bowl.

mar1049
mar1049

Maybe they will get a new arena like those other loser Atlanta teams. Next year the Hawks can play some of the high school teams at tournament time in Macon. Hopefully they can at least win one game. 

tneck
tneck

I wish you were wrong.  The Hawks gave all they had.  I think they are on the right path and only need one player to put them over the top.

TreyMeans3
TreyMeans3

@JeffSchultzAJC they're done. Guarantee vacation plans have already been set for some of them. Cavs easy today....