If you’re a NBA player, you play a six-month regular season and slog through 82 games, and come the seventh month and the 83rd game everything changes. You notice this even before you’ve reached your locker room or donned your uniform. You notice because, from the moment you step through the arena door, there are TV cameras tracking your walk down the hall.
Generally, not much can happen as an NBA player walks down a hall. (J.R. Rider might stand as the exception that proves this rule.) But everything gets ratcheted up when the postseason commences. International TV and satellite radio and all the big-name Web sites are in the building, even in Game 1 of Round 1.
These Hawks saw it a year ago, and for the first two games in Boston they didn’t really cope. “That was the first time for a lot of these guys,” Mike Woodson said Sunday night, speaking before Game 1, “and there were a lot of nerves. We were a little jittery up there. We just didn’t fare well in Boston.”