HAWKSVILLE - The clock is ticking on this once miraculous season for the Hawks.
How much time remains is hard to tell, could be a couple games or a couple days.
No one knows for sure.
But one question about these Hawks remains.
Do they have anything left?
Fresh off two straight blowout loss in Cleveland, it’s all come down to this one showing, tonight’s Game 3 against Cleveland at Philips Arena.
If the Hawks can dig down and find something that works long enough to hold off the Cavaliers, maybe, just perhaps maybe, they can stretch this series out a few days longer.
We all know there have been far too many injuries to contend with for the Hawks to actually dream about springing an upset.
But there is still time to save a little face and make the NBA, the city of Cleveland and even the Cavaliers sweat a little bit.
Win tonight and waking up Sunday morning in a 2-1 hole gives people hope. Go to bed tonight down 3-0, however, and Monday’s Game 4 becomes 48 minutes of survivor. And with LeBron James smelling blood and the Hawks smelling vacation … well, it could be just enough to shove the Hawks all the way over the playoff cliff.
I took a seat in my barber’s chair a little earlier today and before he could even get started, one of his fellow barbers stopped him so he could ask the question that I’ve been getting non-stop the past 48 hours.
“Them boys gettin’ swept or what man?”
I’ll tell you like I told him, it all comes down to tonight.
The Hawks have been holding on to the aura of their own home court advantage, and all the cosmic energy that comes with it, all season long.
It worked for them in Game 7 against Miami. But that was a series clincher. And they weren’t missing three injured starters (only Marvin Williams sat that one out, Al Horford and Joe Johnson did not).
Johnson, Horford and Williams might play tonight (all three are officially “game-time” decisions) and it still might not be enough to hold off the Cavs. They’re that good. And that focused. And that serious about doing whatever it takes, whenever they have to and wherever they have to in an effort to win a championship.
I loved Wally Szczerbiak’s quote after Game 2 when he was asked about the Cavs’ six, double-digit playoff wins this postseason – “You haven’t seen the hard work we’ve been putting in,” he said, insulted that anyone would dare to think the Cavs are just good enough to show up and blow teams away without doing any dirty work to make it happen. “There’s a lot of work that goes into playing as well as we’re playing. We definitely put the effort in on the practice floor, in the film room and in the weight room. We’ve done it all season long, so we are going to continue to do that and it’s paying off during game time.”
This from the team’s seventh, eighth or ninth man, depending on Mike Brown’s playing rotation on a given night. That’s what winning big is all about, that attitude, that mindset and that kind of sacrifice.
And while this looks like hard work from the Hawks’ perspective, James is smiling at the opportunity to play in “another hostile environment” – if an arena filled with fans wearing his jerseys and gasping at his every move, from the powder toss at the start of the game to his headband toss to the crowd at the end, and everything in between, can be considered hostile.
“We have a 2-0 lead,” James said. “A series is never won in two games or three games. But Game 3 is going to be really fun.”
We shall see shortly.