Game 5: The Hawks prove they’re too good for these guys

The wonder isn’t that the Hawks have again taken a series lead. The wonder is that they were ever behind. They’re so much better than the Heat it isn’t funny. And they won’t be laughing if Sunday arrives and they’re back here trying to close this out in a Game 7. This one should end Friday night in Miami.

We know the Hawks can play. What we need is for them to prove they can finish, that they can actually win a best-of-seven series, that they can dispose of a demonstrably lesser opponent and commence with the serious business of chasing LeBron.

The Hawks showed their steel in a first half Wednesday of hard fouls and key injuries, and when intermission arrived they led by 23 points. (They would win by 15.) Said Flip Murray, who scored 23 points and steered the Hawks through the choppy second half: “The game got physical, but I liked the way we kept our composure.”

A year ago in Boston, the Hawks couldn’t do that. Four times the Celtics hit them in the collective mouth, and four times the Hawks buckled. This time they’ve already proved they can win on the road — Game 4 was a huge advance for this team’s psyche — and now they need to do it again.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

It won’t be easy. Al Horford sprained his ankle in the second quarter — “As long as it comes around, I should be fine for Friday,” he said afterward — and Marvin Williams didn’t play at all. And Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, grasping at straws, made it a point to say: “The game became a highlight reel [at the end], and they really tried to embarrass us.”

He was speaking of one play late in the game: Free on a runout, Josh Smith sought to whip the ball between his legs before dunking. (He missed the dunk, by the way.) But a team that has trailed all night and is down by 20 with 4:16 left should worry more about how badly it had been outplayed. And to his credit, Spoelstra said this: “They kicked our butts in every was possible … They pounded us in every shape and form.”

The great Dwyane Wade made one first-half basket. The Hawks made 13 of their 16 shots in the second quarter. This was the fifth no-doubt game of the series, which is pretty weird in itself, but it’s time now for the Hawks to forget the highlight stuff and to get down and D up and grind one out on the road. That’s the way the good teams do it, and this team has the capacity to be very, very good.

No Hawks team since 1970 has won a best-of-seven series. This team can and should. Forget the Heat’s trumped-up ire — “Yes, we were very insulted,” Wade said, speaking of Smith’s abortive around-the-worlder — and the fan blackout that awaits in Miami in Game 6. Forget everything except the mission at hand, which is getting to Round 2.

“That’s a game we have to have,” Murray said, and it’s a game these Hawks can get if they control themselves and stick to business. It’s time to put this outclassed opponent to sleep. It’s time to say hello to LeBron.

135 comments Add your comment

Jeff

April 30th, 2009
12:41 am

Great points, MB…. Atlanta has had so many “almost” moments in its NBA history, I hope this can be a “look back on with pride moment.” To be one of the last 8 teams in the league still standing – after what this team went through not too long ago with some 20, 25 win seasons – would be a great accomplishment. As for Smith’s failed windmill… that’s just Josh showing he still has some immaturity. He needs to take the layup or the simple two-handed flush… don’t try to be MJ. And as for Miami being upset about it…. TOUGH CRAP! My god, EVERY NBA game is a freakin’ highlight reel if it’s more than 15 points in the final minutes! What about some of the highlight reel junk that LeBron, Kobe and even D-Wade have done in recent years? Miami’s film guy, er, head coach, Erik Spoelstra, needs to worry less about how to stop Josh Smith’s fancy dunks and more about how to keep Atlanta from building 20 point leads. Good luck Hawks, you’ve given yourselves a shot, now FINISH THE DEAL!!!

i hate cold prey.....its better to HEAT My(aimi) prey

April 30th, 2009
12:42 am

Dwayne wade is a crybaby! The hawks beat that heat @$$

GO HAWKS! MAKE HISTORY

i hate cold prey.....its better to HEAT My(aimi) prey

April 30th, 2009
12:45 am

jeff i dont agree with it! If josh smith would have completed his dunk it would have been all the more momentum we need!!!!

The hawks need what ever they can get and if the physical game isnt working they need to up their phycological game

westcoastatlfan

April 30th, 2009
12:51 am

I grew up in ATL and was at that game 6 series defining moment where the whole Omni crowd was in a frenzy feeling they finally could get over the top against the mighty Celtics. Of course, we all know what happened – typical ATL letdown.

Let’s see if this team can indeed close the deal. I agree the Heat are DWade plus a supporting cast and if he isn’t healthy, the Hawks should have the guts and the attitude to close this out.

Cmon Josh Smith – you still don’t get it, do you? This is the freakin playoffs and you still think you are at a slam dunk contest. Act like a professional and compete with your teammates and actually close this series out….

ken

April 30th, 2009
1:03 am

yall trippin, it wouldve been a different thing if lebron tried the dunk.

The Truth

April 30th, 2009
1:14 am

Great piece Mark. I totally agree with the points about the Hawks as the better team. I can’t believe TNT Barkley, Kenny and even Wade making such a big deal about that one attempted dunk by Josh. He was just trying to give the fans something special. If the shoe had been on the other foot, you better believe Wade would have done likewise or something equivalent. It would not have been a bone-headed play if Wade had done it. What I am pissed about from the TNT so called analysts, is that they did not give the Hawks any credit for the win. They devoted all their air time and attention to that one single play. If you want to know the real HAWKS HATERS, ITS KENNY AND BARKLEY ON TNT. These guys flat-out hate the Hawks, no bones about it. If Miami had won the game, it would have been high-light reel after high-light reel talking about the great D Wade. In fact even though Miami lost, there were more D Wade high-lights than Hawks high-lights. Mark you should take note and write about it.

Reid Adair

April 30th, 2009
1:22 am

It is ridiculous that Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade and the blowhards on TNT are whining about Josh Smith’s dunk attempt. Throw in @ajcsportseditor for saying that Smith should be “embarrassed.”

Najeh Davenpoop

April 30th, 2009
1:34 am

If the Heat don’t want Josh Smith attempting fancy breakaway dunks in garbage time, they should play better, prevent garbage time from occurring, and take care of the ball better so the Hawks don’t get breakaway dunk opportunities. LeBron James does this all the time and he gets nothing but praise. I was at the game so I don’t know what Kenny and Charles said, but if they are hating on Josh for that they better be hating on LeBron when he does that too.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
1:36 am

It’s odd, huh? The NBA tries to play up its stars and its sensational plays — check out SportsCenter and see what percentage of basketball highlights are dunks — but Smith tries a windmill and gets ripped.

Where do you think it would have been on ESPN’s “top plays” had he made the thing? I say No. 1.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
1:37 am

Oh, and thanks to you, Mr. Truth.

wxwax

April 30th, 2009
1:39 am

In a single move, Josh Smith showed the world what Woody’s been dealing with.

In a playoff game – a playoff game! – when all you want to do is nail the coffin shut, this immature kid decides to showboat and misses the dunk. He’s a gifted and profoundly stupid young man. No wonder Woody’s had to sit him down.

Will Josh Smith ever mature and realize his full potential? Or will he always be a knucklehead who never quite figures it all out?

My sympathy to Coach Woodson. I had no idea what he was dealing with.

wxwax

April 30th, 2009
1:41 am

He didn’t try a windmill. He tried a dopey through-his-legs thing.

More importantly, you don’t take things for granted. You put the other team away. Business first. *Especially* in the playoffs.

I couldn’t believe it. And neither could the commentators. I hope Smith is shamed into, at least temporarily, getting his priorities straight.

doc

April 30th, 2009
1:52 am

JOSH = MVP

get over it; 20/8/4/2/2 and zip to’s

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
1:54 am

Doc, you’re ahead of me. I was just looking for Josh’s numbers in Game 5. Pretty awful performance, huh?

uga_b

April 30th, 2009
2:32 am

My question is that if Lebron had done a fancy dunk would he have gotten the bad rap? I have seen him pull that off on a breakaway. The NBA commentators need to realize the NBA become more about sizzle, flash and entertainment years ago. Watch a dang All-Star game. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of corn-fed white boys from Indiana do 2 handed chest and bounce passes and shoot open shots. Get with the times. Hop on the trolley.

uga_b

April 30th, 2009
2:34 am

Dang, i didn’t read Najeh’s post first. Good Lookin’ out. Just watch the playoff commercials of fantastical moves…how many are 1 in 1 free throw shots…none.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
2:39 am

I knew what was coming the second Josh got the ball, and I thought it was kind of funny he missed — I always think missed dunks are funny — but objectionable? No. What was he supposed to do — lay it up? Pull it back out and run the Four Corners?

Dr. Warren

April 30th, 2009
3:02 am

Let’s not ignore the pattern. Every time the Hawks look superior, and a cinch to win the next game, they don’t. That is their identity–a frequently good team that loses focus and intensity at potentially transcendent (for the franchise) moments. They’ll lose in Miami, Horford or not. But they’ll probably win game 7. If it sounds like I’m contradicting myself, I’m not. They’ll win because it’s at home.
By the way, Mark, nice historical reference on the 7-game series futility.

NCBravesFan

April 30th, 2009
6:28 am

Mark – thanks for the great coverage in-game (and from Acworth, no less!). Dr Warren – I agree that these Hawks can be really frustrating. They come out in one game and look like no-one could ever beat them (Game 1), and then they fall flat and lose their way (Games 2/3).

But as we all know, LeBron and the crew do not suffer fools, and the Hawks need to close this Heat thing down in a hurry and focus on what’s coming.

If they can shake past patterns & advance, I hope at a minimum the Hawks can make the Cavs series at least mildly entertaining.

Native Son

April 30th, 2009
6:32 am

In a playoff game – a playoff game! – when all you want to do is nail the coffin shut, this immature kid!
STOP RIGHT THERE. How many “KIDS” are?
When Cleveland’s starters were doing the photo-op thing, was that mature? How bout Wade crying like a baby? How bout Kobe snitching on Shaq? How bout Barkley spitting on fans? How bout K. Smith pouting after the Hawks rejected him? You like apples?????? How bout them apples? Now leave the HOMEGROWN ALONE. From the most Indiginous one. Peace

hawks hawk

April 30th, 2009
6:58 am

Well i’ll take one missed highlight dunk, when we up by 15 or more with 3 minutes in the 4th quarter. Now if we down or if this was the 2nd or 3rd quarter, i could see someone getting upset. Smoove played a pretty good game, did everythang like he’s done the whole series. Let MIA be upset, but Hawk fans WOW! Smoove do you, guess it was crazy when he tried to dunk on J Oneal and M Beasley, that was silly also(lol ar tall clowns), should’ve just pulled up for a jumpshot! Go hawks, great game!

Cuz

April 30th, 2009
7:20 am

Maybe the Hawks need a new catch phrase. “Fire Woodson” does not seem to be working. Get someone to call Mark Richt and find out if “Finish the Drill” is copyrighted.

That was a dunk? I thought Josh was trying to pass the ball around his back to the fan with the ugly Braves hat under the basket. The fan then makes the shot and gets one of those checks so large they won’t fit in a VW. I think the retro Braves hat threw Josh off and ruined the photo-op.

jason

April 30th, 2009
7:23 am

Not saying if its right or not, but I get where Smith was coming from. Smith gets alot of what I would call pure B.S. calls against him or flat out missed calls. People forget Smith is still a kid, or a young man. His emotions tend to get the best of him at times. Emotions are a great tool to have if you can control, and channel them through your play. I saw a Miami team come to ATL to play physical. ATL flat out whipped them. ATL can play really physical when they want to. I knew after game 1 the Heat couldn’t stay on the floor with the Hawks. They proved once again in game 5. How far could the Hawks go if they could consistently play at that level night after night.
I read somewhere the questioning of JJ being ATL’s superstar. Their LeBron, Kobe, Wade, etc. ATl doesn’t need JJ to be. They need JJ and Bibby to be leaders. ATL has at least 6 to seven guys who can score when needed. Last big props to Flip,Mo, and Mario, and Pachulia, for an excellent game off the bench. If the Hawks were more mature, this series should have been swept, or at least over in 5. Sometimes people just don’t get how young the Hawks are.

lawton

April 30th, 2009
7:26 am

the missed dunk i ATTEMPT sums up smith’s problems and the hawks are not a good team because they have NO halfcourt offense. who cares if they beat the heat, they gonna get thumped by cleveland. 40 years, 40 years and the hawks are STILL rebuilding in atlanta, lol.

Birdy

April 30th, 2009
7:30 am

Regarding Smith’s dunk attempt: The Heat’s coach is just grasping for ways to motivate his squad. Smith was focused all night long, making great passes and aggressively gettingt to the hoop and making his free throws.

Smith displayed playoff-type leadership, IMO, all night long — even in the failed dunk attempt. Yes, even in that play because he was just giving the fans something to enjoy and something for the league to market. This is entertainment, afterall.

Well done, Josh. You played a heckuva game when we needed it most.

Randy Whitman

April 30th, 2009
7:37 am

How about D. Wade being protected – literally – by the officials. Oh, the irony.

jg

April 30th, 2009
7:39 am

i knew the heat and their coaches would play that “missed dunk” into some kind of motivating speech for the rest of the series. but that’s just reaching for something–this is what coaches do in desperate times–he’s basically challenging his team’s manhood. i don’t think it will make much of a difference if the hawks keep playing this style of ball.

the thing about this game that bothered me was the flagrant foul on mo evans by d. wade. i thought that should have resulted in an ejection. i hear all the crap about how wade blocks a lot of shots this way–whatever–do you guys remember the play josh made against harping in the regular season–josh blocks more shots than wade and he barely missed the block on harping and they ejected him. i know if the shoe was on the other foot and josh made that same play on wade that wade knocked evans down–josh would’ve been thrown out and suspended for the next game.

as for the “hard” foul by solo on wade–that’s ridiculous! wade led with his elbow right into jones’ chin—i thought solo was just trying to get out of his way–then wade pulled solo to get things going!

oh well! hawks won it anyway and if they could go ahead and finish this off in miami on friday that would be just wonderful. i keep thinking i don’t want to see a game 7 in this series just because of the pressure will be on us–but that’s what we played the entire year for right????

go hawks
chattanooga

that's a long time

April 30th, 2009
7:45 am

Haven’t won a seven-game playoff series since 1970? Really? I don’t doubt you Mark, I remember losing a couple of tight seven-gamers –but the thought is we must have won a seven-gamer sometime in the 80’s ..must have been best-of-fives I’m thinking about.

Mac

April 30th, 2009
7:46 am

The photo above tells it all, you can see the disgust on Spoelestra’s face. Whatever. Hope the Hawks kick ‘em just as hard in Miami. Make a statement about who the superior team is.

The Truth

April 30th, 2009
7:48 am

lawton

Who cares about your comment; I know Miami has a Blog that would fit you nicely. Misery and whiners love company. :)

a long time --and accurate

April 30th, 2009
7:53 am

Just researched. Did win a few best of fives, but despite some solid 50+ win teams in the 80’s as well as a couple in the 90’s, did not pull off a seven game series victory.

Native Son

April 30th, 2009
7:54 am

In the end, only one team wins. And it won’t be Cleveland. Not to be overly optimistic, but I think at full strength the Hawks would have a great shot at beating cleveland. Wade; James, same M_O, but keep Mo’ Williams off the peremiter. The Hawks are inconsistent, but all you have to be is consistent 4 times. Ask the Celtics!! And if we take one(not steal)in Ohio…………Well, it COULD happen.

ndadome

April 30th, 2009
8:02 am

What ticks me off is that I’m probably the only one reading this that understands your “Four Corners” reference. I agree with you, Mr. Bradley, response would have been totally different if he had made it. I believe they still got two points in spite of the miss. But I thought Coach Woodson was going to run out and strangle Josh.

J

April 30th, 2009
8:19 am

While it wasn’t the best thing to do at that point, I agree it would have fired up the crowd … I think that’s where you get the biased opinions from the “TNT Analysts” … can’t believe anybody would go that hard on J-Smmove … if you’re a true fan, you understand why he tried to do it

Native Son

April 30th, 2009
8:26 am

Maybe he’s going back to get his dunk title

Daniel

April 30th, 2009
8:38 am

Mark- several others have already stated it, but I totally agree that an article on the way the TNT crew is so negative on the Hawks is warranted. I mean TNT is in Atlanta for goodness sake. I don’t expect them to be our cheerleaders, but it is ridiculous the lengths that they go to be negative about the Hawks.
Also, I have a lot bigger issue with Josh when he takes that 20 foot jump shot early in the clock without moving the ball, than him trying a highlight dunk. I hate it that he missed it. To the victors goes the spoils.
Miami and DWade are a bunch of chumps.

Daniel

April 30th, 2009
8:39 am

ndadone- everybody gets the four corners reference

ndadome

April 30th, 2009
8:45 am

Sorry, Daniel. .didn’t see the 900 pound gorilla in the room.

Atllovesthesteelers

April 30th, 2009
8:45 am

This failed dunk attempt has recieved too much attention. Was this show boating? Yes. Was this a sigh of immaturity? Maybe. I find this hard to believe that no one is talking about D Wade’s missed wide open dunk, or the fact that the Miami Heat can only win a game if thier three ball game is on. The Hawks have won back to back games because they finally figured out that you have to defend. I liked the physicallity of yesterday’s game, and kudos to the players for not losing thier composure on the aggressive foul of D Wade. This was like watching old school playoff basketball. The Hawks have a chance to prove something if they can close the Heat out on thier own floor, which they should do.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
8:46 am

Thanks, Dr. Warren. Thanks, NC. Sorry to have unveiled an antique, NBD.

And Long Time, ‘Nique’s teams won three best-of-fives in the ’80s, and Hubie’s team won a best-of-three in 1979, and Lenny’s teams won four best-of-fives in the ’90s. But that’s it as far as playoff series wins go since 1970.

oldmike

April 30th, 2009
8:47 am

For the record Dr. Warren the Hawks just put two thumpings on the Heat back to back. Tell DWade to shut up and stop whining too.

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
8:53 am

Seems to me the Hawks-Celtics series got interesting a year ago only after Paul Pierce got so frustrated he made, in the NBA’s parlance, a “menacing gesture.”

The big-timers don’t like losing. Maybe that’s what makes them big-time. But it is interesting how these little Hawks keep getting under big-timers’ skins. And good for them (the Hawks), I say.

Atllovesthesteelers

April 30th, 2009
8:59 am

Have to admit that look on Woody’s face after Josh’s failed dunk attempt was hilarious. We take the good (Spectacular Dunks/Blocks), with the bad (Ill-advised 3’s, and attempting to play point guard). But the look on Woody’s face was like “Son what are you doing?” I am all for alittle show boating just make the dunk next time Josh. For the whiny Heat fans and D Wade if you didnt like the dunk attempt, next time play some D.

heatforlife

April 30th, 2009
9:04 am

you guys are pathetic when you were down in the series you thought it was the end of the world and now you are world beaters? give me a break we are going to kick your a–es when you come to MIAMI . your franchise will always be second class. and your team has no basketball smarts.

heatforlife

April 30th, 2009
9:08 am

by the way do you actually think you guys shut down d-wade when he is hurt shows you how much you know about basketball. we will see you in miami.dont cry after you lose!

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2009
9:08 am

I couldn’t see the look on Woodson’s face. When your seat is in Acworth (meaning: mezzanine), all you get is Woody’s back.

Atllovesthesteelers

April 30th, 2009
9:12 am

That look should have been on today’s article. You missed a treat MB.

Westurd

April 30th, 2009
9:17 am

“heatforlife” the only one crying in Atlanta at the moment is your golden boy DWade. Everygame of the series DWade goes through about three boxes of tissues.

GREAT GAME LAST NIGHT….GO HAWKS!

Native Son

April 30th, 2009
9:18 am

It’s the same one for 5 years. LOL

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2009
9:20 am

Regardless of Smith’s intent (and I truly believe he was trying to entertain the fans and not disrespect the Heat nor “the game”) I think there is a 99.8% chance that a Heat player will try to under-cut him Friday night or try a good ole fashion Gordon Solie announced clothesline. With 2 starters potentially missing, the last thing we need is for Magloire to channel Maurice Lucas and put one of our key players in the hospital.