The postseason Hawks have defied a lot of the expectations created by the regular-season Hawks.
The thought was they can’t win if they don’t make their favored long 2s but after making 43.3 percent during the regular season, they are at just 36.1 percent in the playoffs. You figured defense would be a problem but postseason opponents are shooting just 41.2 percent, second to the Celtics. They didn’t get to the free-throw line much during the season but. . . . well, OK, that one still kind of holds true: .26 free-throw rate during the regular season, .29 during the postseason.
Another big difference: The Hawks have been good at home. Surely part of the reason for that is the atmosphere. Large crowds cheering enthusiastically for the Hawks were a rarity during the season. They were the rule against Orlando.
“I know they’ve been criticized in the past,” Jamal said of fans, “but in the playoffs they’ve been great.”
Smoove said he expects the same tonight.
“The environment is going to be fun,” he said. “It’s going to be as rowdy as they were [in Chicago], if not rowdier.”
Despite their problems at home this season, L.D. said the Hawks were eager to return home to Philips Arena in the first round.
“Coming back from Orlando for Game 2, I could sense the confidence level, the energy level,” he said.
Judging by the chatter among Bulls bloggers and the questions Chicago media types asked today, the visitors are expecting their fans to infiltrate Philips like they did during the regular season.
“Maybe,” J.J. said. “I am sure their fans will come out and show their support. But it is what it is. We can’t control that. The only thing we can control is [that] when we step inside those lines and play hard.”
- Jamal apparently caused a stir in Chicago with a quote after Game 2.
- Josh on his meeting with L.D.: “He wants me to be more mindful of the timing of the shots. He wants me to be efficient.”
- J.J. on keeping homecourt: “It would be disappointing to let them come in our building and win. We went down there and worked so hard to get game.”
- Josh on homecourt: “It will mean nothing if we go up there and get a split and come back and don’t have a good showing.”
- J.J. on the Bulls: “I think they can play better, especially considering the fact Derrick hasn’t shot the ball particularly well. If we can just keep him at bay I think it will play into our hands.”
- J.J. on if grinding games favor the Bulls: “I think we can go either way. I won’t say it’s a disadvantage for us. We can play a slow-down pace and grind it out as well. We’ve shown we can do that. If that’s the case then we are just going to have to bump it out.”
- L.D. on whether D-Rose’s eight turnovers were due to sloppy play or Atlanta’s D: “Now I’m giving my secrets away. I would say, looking at his turnovers, defensively we are in the right spots.”
- L.D. on if he planned to continue cross-matching Josh and Al: “We will start that way. There is a chance we will go back the other way. Our matchups, I don’t think, have hurt us. I think we have done a good job in our matchups. Defensively, we are on the money. Game 2 clearly our worst enemy was our execution offensively and our shot selection.”
- L.D. on if he planned to stick with Jamal on Rose and Teague on Korver: “We mix it up just to give [Rose] different looks. Sometimes you will see Teague on him, sometimes you will see Joe on him. One thing we try to do is not be predictable in our matchups and find matchups that give us the most flexibility.”
- D-Rose on Teague: “He’s playing well. He’s getting everybody into the game, passing the ball well, shooting the ball well, attacking, knowing his role. He was somebody that was in my [high school] class coming in so I’m happy for him.”
- Al on facing Noah in two rugged playoff games: “We are out there boxing out and wrestling around. It’s all good. That’s the way it is. It’s fun. It’s basketball.”
- Al said he hasn’t talked to or texted Noah since the Hawks advanced to play the Bulls.
- Noah on the matchup: “It’s different. Me and Al shared a lot of great times together in college. We could have been pretty high picks after the first championship [but] we decided to come back for the love of the game and the love of playing with each other and having that taste of winning [another] championship. When you share moments like that and then you have to compete against each other, it’s tough. But it is what it is. It’s OK.”
- Noah on the Bulls trying to take away Al on the pick-and-pop: “He’s a really improved shooter. He’s very consistent at hitting it. We try to have a game plan for it. We know it’s not easy. He’s a hell of a player and a hell of a competitor.”
By Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat
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