The Hawks allow the unassuming Bucks to make this a series

Somebody guard that guy! Brandon Jennings exults after another trey. (AP photo)

Somebody guard that guy! Brandon Jennings exults after another trey. (AP photo)

Milwaukee — They had a chance to show us they’d matured. They had a chance to make quick work of a team that, without Andrew Bogut, is the weakest entity in the playoff grid. Instead the Hawks gave the Milwaukee Bucks reason to believe. If you’re the better team, that’s the last thing you want.

The Hawks trailed by 17 points after 12 minutes of Game 3. They didn’t look like the better team. They didn’t look like much of a team at all. They were outflanked tactically and overwhelmed emotionally.

“Unacceptable,” said Joe Johnson, who scored 16 of the Hawks’ 40 first-half points.

“I was disappointed,” said Al Horford, who had two points the first half. “I didn’t think we were there mentally.”

“We didn’t bring our own energy,” said Josh Smith, who managed only seven points in 36 minutes after stirring up a mini-tempest by suggesting Milwaukee is Nowheresville. (Smith afterward: “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”)

Their play in the first quarter suggested the Hawks believed they’d already won the series, which technically they haven’t. (NBA rules stipulate four victories, not two.) They were a step slow from the start, and that’s a bad thing to be when the other team is smaller and quicker.

The Bucks spread the court and ran their guards off screens. The Hawks, as is their wont, switched on everything, which spawned little-on-big mismatches. As good a defenders as Smith and Al Horford are, they can’t keep up with Brandon Jennings and John Salmons 25 feet from the hoop.

Jennings made three treys in the first 7 1/2 minutes. He and Salmons made nine of 10 shots between them in the first 9 1/2 minutes, at which point the Bucks led 31-13. So much for coming on the road and taking the crowd out of the game. So much for matching an overmatched opponent’s fire with fire.

The Bucks know they cannot hope to beat the Hawks by playing conventional basketball. Milwaukee’s only hope is to dazzle its opponent with footwork, and that’s precisely what occurred in Game 3. The Bucks didn’t try to feed the post because they don’t have a post player. They made their last stand on the perimeter, and they wound up standing pretty darn tall.

Let’s be honest: This was the key game in the series. Not regarding its outcome — the Hawks should and will prevail — but its duration. The Hawks came to the frigid Midwest with a chance to put the Bucks to bed, and instead they were wrong-footed. With Orlando leading Charlotte 3-0, that’s a major consideration. You don’t want to be the team coming into Round 2 on short rest.

It’s not that good teams never lose a game in the postseason. They do. Cleveland fell way behind at Chicago but wound up nearly winning. The Lakers lost in Oklahoma City. The difference is, both those Game 3 losers gave themselves a chance. The Hawks fell behind and stayed there. They never put any game pressure, to use a Krzyzewski phrase, on the home team. They made it too easy.

And that’s the reason the Hawks still aren’t considered a first-tier NBA team. Yeah, they won 53 games this season, but they had a losing record on the road. Given a chance to make a bold statement in this essential road game, they looked up halfway through the fourth quarter and saw themselves 28 points in arrears.

They’re better than that, or they should be. They’re seasoned enough to know what’s coming in a Game 3 on the road. They’re gifted enough to take an inspired opponent’s best shot and hit back harder. But on this sobering night they seemed content to rely on Philips Arena to win the series for them.

Which it can. The Bucks aren’t apt to break through in Atlanta. But the Hawks can’t reach the Eastern Conference finals unless they win away from home against an opponent far better than Milwaukee.

170 comments Add your comment

j

April 24th, 2010
9:34 pm

big stinker, for sure!

todd grantham

April 24th, 2010
9:36 pm

Mark, dont forget about the Ruth’s Chris reservations.

j

April 24th, 2010
9:36 pm

Mark, how about telling them (especially Josh) that if they have nothing to do in MIlwaukee, that should motivate them mroe to play hard and get the hell outta dodge … it makes me sick to see a score like this and no fight either … i love my Hawks but our road troubles will be the end of us …

rms

April 24th, 2010
9:37 pm

And you wanna know why some Hawks fans dont take them seriously. You aint good enough to just turn it on when you feel like it. To rely on home court is risky because they can easily steal one and have you looking real stupid.

and oh yeah, FIRST!!

ChippersLoveChild

April 24th, 2010
9:37 pm

I hope you meant without Bogut, because with them I think they could actually beat the Hawks in a best of seven. Same old Hawks..

j

April 24th, 2010
9:38 pm

rms – try 4th

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

April 24th, 2010
9:39 pm

This is FAR from a championship team. Period.

And the reason is not physical.

Nilo Silvan

April 24th, 2010
9:39 pm

Jon Barry gave great analysis during the game. I really thought he was on point when he said that the Hawks gave the Bucks new life after the way we played tonight. Bucks now definitely believe they can win this series, and every game will be a battle the rest of the way.

J KIRKLAND

April 24th, 2010
9:40 pm

HERE WE GO AGAIN. MIKE WOODSON CANNOT COACH NOR MOTIVATE, INSTEAD OF MAKING A STANCE . WE LOOK LIKE THE SAME TEAM WE HAD 5 YEARS AGO. KNOW LEADERSHIP!!!

MaryM

April 24th, 2010
9:40 pm

I think this farce of a game should disabuse anyone of the notion that this team is going anywhere in the playoffs. The only time these guys will put out the effort is to pick up their paychecks and get to the tattoo parlor before closing time.

Pathetic losers. I feel bad for anyone who staked their Saturday night entertainment on the Hawks.

tyler

April 24th, 2010
9:41 pm

yeah, terrible performance. Woodson is notorious for underachieving- whether it be with his coaching or with his team’s lackluster performance every third game. Bad coach, period. Part of me would rather go ahead and lose and then get a real coach.

Hurting ATlien

April 24th, 2010
9:41 pm

The Hawks are right were they where last year how hard is it to win on the road with the talent you have, This is all woodys fault nothing but his fault and will be his fault when they are swept in the next round> I say as Hawks fans we protest the next home game until the give us word that woody would be next year this is bad and they wonder why people dont show yeah u can win at home but it starts not to mean as much if u cant win on the road bums. Thats what u looked like tonight bums and u will lose game four too but no worries we can go home and win whatever Im about done with this team

Fitten

April 24th, 2010
9:42 pm

FIRE MIKE WOODSON!!!!

jcw_ATL

April 24th, 2010
9:43 pm

the thing is if the Hawks showed effort and lost by 6 or less points…I would not be upset, but this is ridiculous, the Hawks against the Bucks is mismtach central and they lost because they did not want to win…also don’t wear the red uniforms, they seem to lose with those uniforms…

Chuck

April 24th, 2010
9:43 pm

And the players wonder why the fans don’t show up for every game.

You first, we’ve been nothing but disappointed by this franchise for DECADES. Put your considerable wads of cash where your mouths are, then we’ll see if we’ll dip into our meager savings account for some ridiculously expensive seats.

j

April 24th, 2010
9:43 pm

this series won’t go 7 games, we’ll pull it out tomorrow and then put the deer in headlights Game 5 … this is the wake-up call they need (of course, they didn’t really need a wake-up call to begin with)

Chuck

April 24th, 2010
9:45 pm

And Josh – I know what you can do in Milwaukee – practice, practice A LOT.

lewis

April 24th, 2010
9:46 pm

pathetic display. no excuses at all whatsoever. the entire game wa terrible to watch. FIRE MIKE WOODSON AND MIKE BIBBY

MaryM

April 24th, 2010
9:46 pm

Enter your comments here

j

April 24th, 2010
9:46 pm

i think we all know the talent has been what has carried this team, not the coaching … talent can only take you so far though and we might be seeing that this series … seriously, coach should have called a time-out when the Bucks got up by 5. the other teams did that in the playoff series b/c they expected to win the games. you don’t just let your guys play through it and see where it goes after the team gets up by 15 or so points.

Josh Smith

April 24th, 2010
9:46 pm

Sweet I finally found something to do in Milwaukee: lose and play like total sh!t

MaryM

April 24th, 2010
9:47 pm

This farce of a game should disabuse anyone of the notion that this team is going anywhere in the playoffs. The only time these guys will put out the effort is to pick up their paychecks and get to the tattoo parlor before closing time.

Pathetic losers. I feel bad for anyone who staked their Saturday night entertainment on the Hawks.

lee

April 24th, 2010
9:48 pm

too much 1 on 1 basketball,too many bad shots which led to fast break baskets for Milwaukee! it works at home in front of your own crowd but you can not win on the road playing 1 on 1 basketball! people talk about how good the hawks are but they only beat Milwaukee by 10 points in atlanta!

Denver Hawk

April 24th, 2010
9:48 pm

Hey Josh – there’s always PRACTICE GYMS “to do” in Milwaukee! BRING SOME FRIENDS!

j

April 24th, 2010
9:48 pm

UGGGHHH! man, i’m so pissed right now … i’m sure i’ll be over it tomorrow

Matt

April 24th, 2010
9:49 pm

Maybe Josh Smith will learn to STHU and play the game!! This team is in no way a championship team because they continue to lose to lesser talented teams.

Willie Martinez

April 24th, 2010
9:49 pm

By the way, I contacted Mike Woodson prior to Game 3 and he brought me in as assistant coach in charge of defense!!!

Hurting ATlien

April 24th, 2010
9:49 pm

Mike has to go how hard is to win on the road when your team is ten times better then the bucks minus 2 of there players, its his fault all his fault and nothing but his fault, but kno worries tho we win at home thats getting old so what u win at home we will get swept next round and will lose game four of this series because we have woody imagine if Scott had this team skys the limit, I say we protest the next home game and do it until they insure us they’re not keepin woody next season. He is a bum the team inflects his buminship, and as a Hawks fan Im sick of it they wonder why they cant get butts in the seat this is awful

Karen

April 24th, 2010
9:50 pm

I think this farce of a game should disabuse anyone of the notion that this team is going anywhere in the playoffs. The only time these guys will put out the effort is to pick up their paychecks and get to the tattoo parlor before closing time.

Pathetic losers. I feel bad for anyone who staked their Saturday night entertainment on the Hawks.

Karen

April 24th, 2010
9:52 pm

This farce of a game should dissuade anyone of the notion that this team is going anywhere in the playoffs. The only time these guys will put out the effort is to pick up their paychecks and get to the tattoo parlor before closing time.

Pathetic losers. I feel bad for anyone who staked their Saturday night entertainment on the Hawks.

MRicht

April 24th, 2010
9:54 pm

Hey Willie! How you doing, man?

Eric

April 24th, 2010
9:56 pm

This is the main reason Woodson don’t have a contract, for some reason he just can’t motivate his players. Trust me when I say the Hawks have all the pieces in place, they just have major mental breakdowns. They’ll find a way to make this a 6 or 7 game series which it shouldn’t, considering the Bucks are without Michael Redd and Bogut. It’s so frustrating being an Hawks fan, come on Hawks!!!

Hawks Fan

April 24th, 2010
9:57 pm

Hey Mark Bradley.
Go suck on a ckicken wing. As for the Hawks, just play some ball and STFU and this series will be over soon. Man ya’ll sucked!

Willie Martinez

April 24th, 2010
9:57 pm

Great CMR!…Keep clear of Todd Grantham next week I’m gonna put laxatives in his drinks

NoShamSam

April 24th, 2010
9:59 pm

tidog

April 24th, 2010
9:59 pm

It’s not about Woodson. It’s about the team getting down and not fighting for a win. Rick Fox of NBAtv said it best “the hawks are sending a message to the rest of the playoff teams “if you get them down they will give up” That hawk fans is a sad commentary for the # 3 EC seed.

Greg

April 24th, 2010
10:02 pm

The Magic had to be laughing their asses off watching this game. Free pass to the conference finals for them, which gives them a great shot at the Cavs when that series eventually happens.

Woodson had the same hopeless, helpless, clueless look on his face that he always does when the team faces some adversity. No one expects the Hawks to win every game, but there’s no excuse whatsoever not to come out and compete. A team really is a reflection of their coach. This team does not play smart and they play with no heart. At least the Hawks management had the good sense not to offer Woody a contract extension – tonight perfectly outlined why they have done what they’ve done.

President Barack Obama

April 24th, 2010
10:02 pm

Attention Hawks Fans:
I have just instituted a policy aimed at “bailing out” top-tier NBA playoff teams that are “too big to fail. If the Hawks were to lose this series, the economy would collapse; therefore, my policy will provide $700 Billion so that the Atlanta Hawks can buy a road win in the playoffs. Thank you and goodnight.

Ken

April 24th, 2010
10:03 pm

The Hawks are who we thought they were period. They will win this series 4-2 and then lose to Orlando 4-1 because they don’t have the will to win on the road. Good season, but no cigar!

Delbert D.

April 24th, 2010
10:04 pm

“Confidence”, they said. That’s an attitude that will get you killed. This isn’t golf.

President Barack Obama

April 24th, 2010
10:05 pm

My new policy will be aimed at aiding the Atlanta Hawks, a team that simply cannot win road playoff games. Therefore, I will proide $700 Billion so that this struggling NBA franchise can buy a playoff road win. Yes we can

Josh Smith

April 24th, 2010
10:07 pm

Ayy man kin I shoo dat tree nah. Ih be in my range nah I promis

S Uga Fan

April 24th, 2010
10:10 pm

Why no woody blame in the article??? Everyone else can see it!!

Ben Roethlisberger

April 24th, 2010
10:10 pm

I “persuaded” a few ladies once in Milwaukee. I thought there was plenty of stuff to do.

S Uga Fan

April 24th, 2010
10:11 pm

Greg…. you should have written the article! Great job!

truthspitter

April 24th, 2010
10:12 pm

The Hawks will never win a championship until they rid themselves of there curses and demons and that speaks to one person Marvin the “Bust” Williams. Just think if he were Carmelo or Durant or Granger all guys chosen 2 or after. This guy is a bum.

Resign or Resign?

April 24th, 2010
10:16 pm

The Bucks with Bogut & Redd would have swept the Hawks! What does that say for the “progress” this team has made? Crawford, whom I think is valuable, decides to dissappear in the playoffs? Where is the “great bench” (Jamal, Mo, ZaZa, etc.) we all thought we had? They were absent even in the two wins!

Eric

April 24th, 2010
10:17 pm

This team needs a coach that can motivate, unfortunately Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan are unavailable. We might be stuck with Woody.

pacco

April 24th, 2010
10:17 pm

What a joke! These guys obviously have no pride. I’m so tired of tolerating and wasting my free time watching this lazy ass team! Play like you have some pride. Then again the NBA makes more money having teams throw games to extend series.

Resign or Resign?

April 24th, 2010
10:18 pm

trythspitter:

Or Chris Paul?