MILWAUKEE — There are people with painted faces and antlers on their heads outside the Bradley Center. Inside, all of the seats are draped with souvenir red “Fear The Dear” towels. Just a hunch: It’s a going to be loud tonight.
“That would be something to break 20,000 hearts, wouldn’t it?” Jamal Crawford said, smiling.
That would be a change of pace for the Hawks: breaking the hearts of a road crowd.
Facing elimination and with the backdrop of a 1-10 road playoff record in the last three years, the Hawks play game six against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Oddsmakers actually have the Hawks as two-point favorites. But after following a 2-0 series lead with three straight losses — including a meltdown in the final four minutes of game five at Philips Arena Wednesday — they don’t quite project as a safe investment.
“We know what we have to do, so we just need to relax and do it,” said Crawford, who has shot a miserable 6-for-21 in the last two games. “We’ve been pressing a little bit. Just relax and have fun. They’re playing loose. Why can’t we? Now nobody expects us to do it. So maybe the pressure changes a little bit.”
If nothing else, it’s a nice rationalization to get yourself up for a game. Here’s what I see happening tonight: The Hawks will come out strong and try to pound the ball inside. At the outset, they’ll play like they know it’s win-or-go-home. But if the Bucks can get out to a comfortable lead, it’ll be over. It’s difficult for a team that’s down 3-2 in a series and coming off such a difficult loss to bounce back. Resolve is key tonight. But we’ll see how it plays out.
It would help if the Hawks change their defensive strategy because all of the switching doesn’t seem to be working. Exhibit A: Brandon Jennings shot 37.1 percent from the field and averaged 15.5 points during the season. In the playoffs, he is shooting 44.8 percent (39 of 87) and averaging 20.8. Any chance we see a zone tonight?
How do you see things going tonight?