It’s so easy to get drunk off one game, isn’t it?
A young team runs and defends like a title contender, Josh Smith looks like some lab creation, Dwyane Wade looks just ordinary — suddenly you find yourself drifting and wondering: “Can LeBron handle this in the next round?”
Welcome to sobriety.
If what happened Wednesday night wasn’t a market correction, it at least was a wakeup call for everybody. It won’t be easy. It won’t short. And any assumptions that seemingly could be drawn after one game were blown to bits in Game 2.
Three days after crushing Miami by 26 points, the Hawks were dropped by the Heat 108-93 to even the playoff series at one humbling apiece.
Nothing went right. Even “Spirit” the hawk (the real one) got loose early in the game, and circled the arena a few times, moving from scoreboard to backboard before returning to his handler.
As far as we know, at least the bird did not leave behind any reminders of his visit. The human Hawks? Different story.
“I think we were a little too comfortable out there,” Al Horford said. “I really didn’t see that sense of urgency from our team, starting with me and going down the line.”
A defense that held the Heat to 64 points and 36.6 percent shooting in the first game was shredded Wednesday for 55.6 shooting, including 15 three-pointers.
Wade? He was back to being something north of mortal: 33 points, including 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. He buried a Hawks comeback attempt with 2:36 left when he banked home a trey with Joe Johnson hanging all over him as the shot clock expired, making it 101-91.
What the Hawks saw from Wade on Wednesday was the real thing. Game 1 was the aberration. Coach Erik Spoelstra downplayed defensive adjustments and player rotations before the game, saying: “None of that matters. You can drop-kick that out the door if you don’t come with any intensity.”
Wade did just that. He spoke earlier about how difficult it was replaying Game 1 in his head and watching tape for three days, waiting for Game 2. “It’s tough, but at least it gives you a chance to work on some things,” he said.
On game night, he came out to the court early to shoot at 5 p.m. for an 8 p.m. game. Spoelstra said he walked into the locker room later and saw some teammates talking and laughing.
“He told everyone to shut up and get their minds on the game,” he said.
The Hawks could’ve used such a wakeup call. Game 1 was so lopsided — Miami led for only 26 seconds at 2-0 and trailed by 20 points at halftime — that it was easy to forget the Heat won nearly as many games (43) as the Hawks (47) this season.
Game 2 recap: the Hawks led at 3-2. That’s it. A defense that held Miami to 36.6 percent shooting and 4-of-23 shooting from 3-point range in Game 1 was shredded in Game 2.
The Hawks trailed by 13 at halftime and as many as 18 late in the third. They rallied to get it back to single digits but never got closer than five (96-91). Then Udonis Haslem made a jumper, Wade banked home his three from Marietta, and that was it.
The home-court advantage that the Hawks worked for six months to get: gone. Miami can win this series by sweeping three at home. But given the diametric results of Games 1 and 2, that’s a dangerous assumption.
As is any assumption.
Jeff Schultz can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).