– So it’s come to this for the Hawks: Woody invoking his days in Detroit, when the Pistons won a Game 6 at New Jersey and then clinched the series at home in the East semifinals. “We’re a long ways away from Detroit, I know,” he said. “But that’s how guys have got to think.”
– They can think it, and maybe that’s all they have to go on right now, but it doesn’t make it true. That Pistons team was led by tough-minded veterans. They’d already been to the East finals. They played defense with zeal in a system they were committed to. They shared the ball on offense and didn’t have a star who dominated the ball.
– The Hawks are nothing like that. They are facing elimination by a six seed missing its two best players and run by a rookie point guard. And they got to this point with a collapse that I’d call incredible except I saw similar Hawks folds so many times down the stretch.
– The only remarkable part about this one was it happened at home, where the Hawks usually pulled out these kind of games. Not this time. “This is like a bad dream,” Jamal said while slumped in a chair in the locker room.
– The Hawks led by nine with four minutes to play, and then they fell apart. “I thought we shot jumps shots and I thought we didn’t execute,” Woody said. “We really had control of the game. Our composure down the stretch, we really just let it get away.”
– Again, this is nothing we haven’t seen before from the Hawks.
– Now the Hawks go back to the Bradley Center, where they were blown out in Game 3 and couldn’t defend in either game. “We’re going to go win,” Al said. “No question about it. That’s the bottom line. We have to bring it back to Atlanta.”
– The Hawks fell into a trap with all their talk about earning home court advantage during the season and now using it in this series. I mean, they were talking that way after Game 3. Now they don’t have that advantage and face an elimination game on the road.
– Home wasn’t so great for the Hawks, anyway. There was a palpable nervousness in the arena throughout the first half and the Hawks looked tight. “Didn’t appear either team had the normal intensity for a Game 5,” Scott Skiles said. “I attribute that to we haven’t been in a game like this before.”
– In other words, the Bucks are relative playoffs neophytes. The Hawks aren’t. So why does this make two games out of five where the Bucks played with more poise when things got tight?
– The Hawks finally carved out some space from the Bucks in the third quarter, when Al made 4 of 5 shots and Marvin scored nine points while making 3 of 3 free throws. But then the fourth quarter came and the Hawks went back to their usual panicky offense.
– “We really weren’t getting good looks,” Al said. “We were forcing some stuff and got away from some of the things that were working for us earlier in the game. We kind of got exposed on the offensive end.”
– Not to be redundant, but we’ve seen this from the Hawks before.
– Probably if the Bucks hadn’t lost Bogut to an injury they wouldn’t even be the six seed. But if they had him in this series, it would be over already. “He’s an all-league caliber defender,” Skiles said. “We miss his ability to plug the middle. His shot-blocking, his rebounding his back-to-the-basket game. We don’t have that. But we are finding a way. We have to do it by committee.”
– Remember, Bogut wasn’t injured until April 3. The Bucks had to scramble to patch things together. They did it well enough to finish the seasons strong and put the Hawks on the ropes. “We didn’t have a lot of time to get continuity and a feel for each other,” Skiles said. “These guys just keep battling and going on.”
– It’s such a stark contrast to watch the Bucks, lacking the Hawks’ depth of offensive talent, quickly work the ball around the court until they find a gap in the Hawks’ D and get off a good shot. Then the Hawks pound the ball, stand around, force bad shots and generally have no offensive flow when they are met with resistance.
– Marvin scored 22 points and it didn’t matter. That’s because Joe, Bibby and Jamal combined to shoot 11 of 49.
– Jamal is having a bad series. He’s not the only one, of course, but he just hasn’t looked the same in his first postseason. “”It was good shots,” he said of his 4 for 14 night. “I was just short all night.”
- Joe fouled out for the first time since Jan., 2008, a span of 229 games. He’s fouled out in three of 699 regular-season games and never in the playoffs. Crawford missed all four shots after J.J. was gone with 2:15 to play. “We depend on him down the stretch but that’s no excuse,” Woody said. “We’ve got other guys that can score.”
– Woody’s future with the Hawks is in doubt. ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr. has made it clear that the team is being judged on its performance in the playoffs. I tried to talk to Gearon at halftime but he begged off and headed up to his suite.
– If the Hawks lose this series, chances are he’ll have something to say. Even if the Hawks advance to meet Orlando is anyone expecting them to suddenly figure things out?
– “It’s win or go home,” Jamal said. “That’s the slogan. That’s what it is.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.