Milwaukee – Perhaps it’s because, for the first of the eight days I’ve spent in this windy city over the past 5 1/2 weeks, the sun is shining. Perhaps it’s because I’m just a raging rose-colored optimist. (Yeah, right.) Whatever the reason, I like the Hawks tonight.
I know, I know. They’re the world’s worst playoff road team. (I’ve noted as much myself.) But Mike Woodson noted yesterday that the good teams eventually figure out how to win in postseason in someone else’s building, and the Hawks are a good team.
Did they play like one in Game 3? No. Said Josh Smith, walking from the bus to the locker room for today’s shootaround: “We can’t play any worse. Anything we do has to be better than that.”
The Hawks knew the Bucks would start fast in Game 3. All teams coming home trailing 2-0 start fast in Game 3 — desperation at work. What no one could have suspected was that the Hawks would see the other team’s fast start as cause to go slow. The game was essentially over after 12 minutes. As Woodson said today: “Anytime you play on the road, you’ve got to give yourself a chance.”
The reason the Hawks are 1-9 on the road over the past three postseasons is that only once, in Game 4 against Miami last spring, did they give themselves a chance. But let’s go back to that game: The Hawks were down 2-1 in that series, having lost the previous two games by an aggregate 44 points. (Say this for the Hawks: When they lose, they really lose.) But they hunkered down and took the game they had to have.
I foresee another hunkering tonight. The Bucks won’t play as well and the Hawks will play much better. The game will, for a change, be close in the final three minutes. But the Hawks will win 81-78.
As you know, I’m hardly ever wrong. (Yeah, right.)
For updates on the Hawks, the Bucks and the Wisconsin weather, check in around 7:30 p.m. EDT — the game’s at 8:30 — and we’ll do the usual live-chat thing throughout Game 4. Y’all come back now, hear?