– Any questions about the Hawks’ ability to crank it up for the playoffs were answered immediately. They buried the Bucks from the jump in a wave of energy. The Bucks were shook. “The first half we were a little shell shocked,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.
– Once that early energy jolt wore off some of those other questions about the Hawks resurfaced but set those aside for a moment and admire that display before halftime. The Hawks shared the ball. They exploited mismatches on offense. The were sharp when switching on defense. They defended with vigor.
– They did all of those things and used a rowdy home crowd at Philips Arena to rattle the Bucks. “We’re at home,” Woody said. “We’re playing playoff basketball and we’re playing in front of our fans, who were fantastic tonight. That’s the energy. We came out and jumped them right away.”
– The Hawks scored 34 points in the first quarter, their third-highest total for the period in the franchise’s postseason history. They led 62-40 at halftime after posting their sixth-highest total in the first half of a playoff game.
– The Bucks might have folded without Brandon Jennings, who for a while seemed to be the only Milwaukee player who wasn’t rattled. He scored 20 points and made 8 of 14 shots in the first half while his teammates combined to score 20 points with 8 of 28 field goals made.
– “I feel like we have to come out with a little more intensity,” Jennings said. “I think we were a little nervous.”
– Without Bogut the Bucks had mismatches all over the place. One of the most lopsided was Delfino trying to check Josh, who would have done more damage if a few shot attempts hadn’t spun out.
– “Early in the game we were letting Josh catch it where he wanted to,” Skiles said. “They threw it in to him, he backed us down and scored. We didn’t react very well, just standing around watching. He can score on almost anybody, especially smaller players.”
– Then again, when the Bucks doubled Josh, the Hawks worked it around for open perimeter shots and J.J., Bibby and Marvin all were making them.
– When the Hawks played at Milwaukee on Monday, Al kept forcing the issue against Kurt Thomas, who is too wide and solid to move in the post. This time Al took Thomas outside and stuck jumpers early.
– First half for the Hawks: 62 points, 62 percent shooting, four turnovers, 13 assists on 26 baskets, 6 of 7 free throws, four and turnovers. Smoove and Al combined for 23 points, 11 of 15 shooting and six blocked shots. The Bucks were 38 percent from the field with just 14 of their 40 points scored in the paint.
– Second half for the Hawks: 40 points and 44 percent shooting. The latter isn’t terrible but it came along with nine turnovers, just five assists on 15 baskets and 8 of 12 free throws. Smoove and Al were a combined 2 of 9 for four points. The Bucks shot 53 percent from the field and scored 28 of their 52 points in the paint.
– “We had a great first half,” Jamal said. “The second half, we slacked off a little bit.”
– The Hawks started doing the opposite of the many good things they did in the first half. One problem was they stopped exploiting the matchups in the post Skiles was talking about. “We definitely got away from it,” Smoove said. “We’ve got to stay with that gameplan. That’s what’s going to be successful with Bogut being absent.”
– But, to be fair, Josh and Al also didn’t respond very well when the Bucks started pushing them farther from the basket. The Hawks did try to throw it to the post a few times but the entry passes were sloppy and the Bucks kept easily poking them away. The post-ups and the passes have to be crisper.
– In the first half Josh and Al generally did a good job when they switched out to guards. It looked like the last meeting in Milwaukee, when the Bucks were passive and Josh and Al recovered nicely when they did get the ball to the rim. But the switches didn’t work so well once the Bucks shared the ball better and finished stronger at the rim in the second half.
– Someone asked Woody a question in which they said the second half is “indicative of our Hawks.” The question was legit but the phrasing was indelicate, and Woody didn’t much like it.
–”First of all, I don’t agree with you that that’s indicative of our Hawks,” he said. “We’ve played solidly all year. We’ve had some close games, and when you get into playoff basketball, you can build a big lead but teams are going to make runs and you’re going to see that in the playoffs the rest of the way out.”
– Bibby’s final ledger was positive–he made shots to stymie the Bucks’ rally in the second half. But once again he was better at the start (4 of 4 field goals, three assists no turnovers in first half) than the finish (two straight turnovers leading to Bucks layups when the Hawks led 96-84).
– Jamal was just 4 of 11 from the field but notice how his shooting covered up the sins of the bench. His eight points to start the second quarter kept the Bucks at arm’s length.
– Despite his status as a 10-year vet, Jamal admitted to being nervous for his first postseason game. “It’s good to just get that first game out of the way,” he said .“The intensity level (is) like going from preseason to regular season, but it’s even more magnified here.”
– Rook’ had a tough time chasing Jennings. But so did everyone except J.J., who picked his pocket twice to stymie a Bucks surge in the third quarter. Milwaukee’s rookie is a tough cover.
– In my five things to watch I said the Hawks might be in trouble if both Jennings and Salmon got going. Jennings certainly did, but Salmons didn’t until it was too late. If he gets off to a better start in Game 2 the Hawks might wish they had one more perimeter defender.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.