Finally, it’s time. Now that I’ve partially recovered from the emotional trauma of stupidly getting my Blackberry wet yesterday and quietly weeping as I drifted into a fitful sleep . . . I’m ready. (Advice: Backup your smartphone data. Now.)
Got on The Google to find as much Hawks stuff as I could:
ESPN.com’s John Hollinger is picking the Hawks in 5, based in part on this research:
It turns out that in the first round, when the home-court team has won the regular-season series, it also has won the playoff series 41 straight times.
I repeat: 41 straight. Forty-one and oh.
The last team to defy the rule was the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs, who lost the season series to Phoenix 3-1 but topped the Suns in a 4 versus 5 series in the playoffs; each team had won 56 games that season. It happened three other times in the 1990s, so the odds are slightly better than the daunting 41-0 figure indicates, but in the big picture we’re looking at a success rate of about 5 percent.
It’s a good thing the Hawks play a certain style of basketball regardless of the opposition. There’s simply not much tape on the short-handed Bucks to watch in order to formulate a game plan specific to their current makeup.
One possible downside of the Hawks playing a certain style of basketball regardless of the opposition is the specter of Scott Skiles figuring out a way to stifle Atlanta’s isolation offense. The Bucks haven’t stopped Joe Johnson yet this season (27.3 PPG, 56.1 TS% in the three games) but they are unlikely to see him used in a wide variety of sets. Only Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James had more plays run for them in isolation than Johnson and of the top five players in the league is isolation plays, Johnson was fifth at creating points off of isolations.
My man Charlie G at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down the series and picks the Hawks in six:
The Hawks are riding a wave of confidence into the playoffs and believe they can handle the Bucks and challenge Orlando in a possible conference semifinal matchup. The loss of Bogut to a season-ending injury on April 3 was a severe blow to the Bucks, who have relied on his leadership all season and will miss his defensive presence, low-post scoring and shot-blocking ability. The Bucks will need a sensational playoff performance from three or four players to have a chance to stay with the extremely well-balanced Hawks lineup.
At Peachtree Hoops, THHB and Drew conclude a conversation about the series with Drew picking the Hawks in five and THHB calling it Hawks in six. Says THHB:
While I truly believe the Hawks, especially playing the Bucks without Bogut, can take the series in four games given their talent advantage– their history of not remaining focused from game to game may cause the series to extend out beyond a sweep. Considering that, plus that the Bucks under Scott Skiles always bring the effort and energy, and the likelihood of the Hawks taking care of business in Games 1 and 2 at home might allow the guard to be let down and MIL to take advantage a couple of times.
ATL_Hawk_Luv at Hawk Str8Talk skips the analysis to predict the Hawks in 5 and lists the reasons it’s important they “dispatch with an inferior team.” One of them:
Are the Hawks mentally tough? No one talks about this, but it matters to this blogger greatly that in 2 years – we haven’t lost a game by less than 10 points. It mattered vs. the vastly superior Celtics in ‘08, but it mattered even more that we couldn’t keep a game close on the road and at home vs. the inferior Heat.
Soaring Down South’s Kris Willis leaves open the possibility of the Bucks “landing a haymaker and stealing” one of the first two games but predicts Hawks in five:
While some pundits out there think that the Bucks are capable of pulling the upset even without Andrew Bogut I ultimately think that this was the best match up for the Hawks in the first round. With me it is not about disrespect to the Bucks because I will admit that I laughed at the thought that John Salmons was going to help this Bucks team in any way when that trade was made. The fact is that trade did work and with a healthy Bogut then this is a scary team. They simply however don’t match up well with the Hawks.
Hawks blog legend Sekou says Hawks in six:
The Bucks have to play above and beyond their means to beat the Hawks four times without Bogut. They’ll be well prepared, no Skiles-coached team shows up any other way, but the Hawks are deeper, healthier and better.
As for me, I’m calling it Hawks in five but I admit to basing that largely on the game at Milwaukee on Monday. The Bucks gave the Hawks what might be their best shot and the Hawks countered it even without Jamal. I’m counting on the Hawks maintaining that level of play forward and winning Game 3 or 4 in Brewtown and not losing at Philips. I say this even though I realize the Hawks are quite capable of making me look silly for it but there it is anyway.
Have fun, Hawks fans.