Live from Game 6: The Hawks look to book a Chicago return

Nobody figured it would be this tough for the Bulls. But it has been. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Nobody figured it would be this tough for the top-seeded Bulls. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It’s win or go home, except that the Hawks are already home. But you get the picture.

The series in quick review: Hawks shot great, played hard and won Game 1; Hawks did neither and lost Game 2; Hawks appeared ready to succumb in Game 3; they refuted such a notion in winning Game 4 and in clambering from 15 points down to take a brief lead in Game 5.

Larry Drew on his Hawks, speaking a few minutes ago: “I think people saw us as a team that would make the playoffs and wouldn’t do well … [What his men have done] is truly a testament to their commitment.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on his by-now-familiar opponent: “This is a quality team. They have quality depth. They have a lot of guys who can put it on the floor.”

This was reminiscent of what Dwyane Wade said after the Hawks beat his Heat in a Game 7 in 2009: “They’ve got five guys they can throw it to and have them make a play.”

Along the way, we’d lost sight of that. The epic Round 2 collapse against Orlando last spring skewed our view of these Hawks, and this middling regular season did nothing to make us remember. But these playoffs have made us recall why it was we got excited about these Hawks in that giddy Boston series of 2008, and the giddiest of those nights came in Game 6.

The Hawks fell behind by 15 points early and you figured, “That’s that, done and dusted.” Then Josh Childress — remember Josh Childress made a tip-in that hung on the rim forever and cut the lead to one after the third-quarter horn — and the rest was astonishing.

Spanning the third and fourth quarters, the Hawks scored on 17 consecutive possessions. They did it against the Celtics, who would become NBA champs. “They thought they had us,” Josh Smith said, speaking of that star-spangled night.

But they didn’t, at least not in Game 6. And Chicago, like those Celtics a No. 1 seed, haven’t yet gotten a real handle on this bunch. The Bulls have won three games in the series, but their biggest lead in any game has been 15 points. If we return to the regular season, the Bulls led the Hawks by at least 19 in all three games.

Yeah, these are the playoffs, and they’re different. But the Hawks are also different. They’ve gotten good again. They can take this back to Chicago. They really can.

And with that, I turn it over to you. Another tight deadline looms tonight, so I’ll be flitting forth and back, but I welcome you company as we hurtle into Game 6. And if the Hawks score on 17 consecutive trips this evening, just recall who put a little bug in y’all’s ear.

By Mark Bradley

505 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:26 pm

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:26 pm

I’m afraid the Hawks may be soaring their last time this season

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:29 pm

You’ve been kind of quiet lately. Wondered if you were on holiday.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
7:30 pm

I took three days off after 18 consecutive days of not being off, for those keeping score at home.

tom

May 12th, 2011
7:30 pm

no matter how this series will turn out i can say i’m pumped about the hawks future. based on what teague has show us, this team is maybe one or two pieces away from being a legit threat. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

Volman

May 12th, 2011
7:30 pm

Hawks fans BETTER BE CHEERING HARD TONIGHT!

I don’t want to hear any of that “MVP” crap…. People of Atlanta, you’re better than that.

Go Hawks!

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:35 pm

well, that wasnt a shot. just meant i missed reading your stuff.

D in ATL

May 12th, 2011
7:40 pm

This game will be about defense and rebounding. The Hawks have to defend like they did in Game 1. If so, Game 7 Sunday night.

Buddy Grizzard

May 12th, 2011
7:40 pm

http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/atl/atlanta-hawks

NBA – JOHNSON BUCKLES UNDER PRESSURE
If Joe Johnson is unable to find his stroke tonight, the Hawks will likely lose. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Johnson doesn’t always perform when his back is against the wall. Johnson has the 2nd worst field goal percentage in Win-or-go-home playoff games among active players.
about 1 hour ago | ESPN Stats and Information

Willie Beamen

May 12th, 2011
7:41 pm

The Hawks will need “The difference” tonight and Sunday.

D in ATL

May 12th, 2011
7:41 pm

Yes Mark. We keep score. I’ve been reading you since High School man. Why else would I keep reading a newspaper?!?!

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
7:42 pm

Sometimes I feel guilty when I don’t write. I need to get over that. But I haven’t yet.

Time

May 12th, 2011
7:42 pm

Go Hawks. Shut the ESPN people already talking about a Bulls/Heat conference finals up.

Spud Webb

May 12th, 2011
7:43 pm

Great article. I remember driving around all day after game 6 in that 2008 Boston series eating up every moment of talk about the win. I couldn’t get enough and got chills just thinking about the arena that night. I think tonight will be a replay. Just hope game 7 turns out differently this time around.

Willie Beamen

May 12th, 2011
7:43 pm

The hawks will need “The Difference’ tonight and Sunday regardless of the craziness Ive read talking about benching him

Heat Fan

May 12th, 2011
7:44 pm

Lets go Hawks. Even though most of you hate the Heat. I’m rooting for you tonite.

Spud Webb

May 12th, 2011
7:45 pm

As Time said, all day ESPN has been discussing a Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Final like it’s already set in stone. mark, will Coach Drew use that as a motivator tonight? Do the players listen or care?

rob

May 12th, 2011
7:45 pm

@ Time I am so tired of people already saying Bulls, Heat. From my friends to every website, I hope the Hawks shut these people up.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
7:47 pm

The Hawks looked intense to me. Though even their coach would concede it’s hard to tell if looks mean anything.

OrsonWellesEgo

May 12th, 2011
7:47 pm

Please, for the love of Waffle House and Coca-cola…don’t let this series end tonight!

OrsonWellesEgo

May 12th, 2011
7:48 pm

Please….for the love of Waffle House and Coca-cola…Push this thing to a game seven!

Heat Fan

May 12th, 2011
7:48 pm

@rob

That how the Heat fans felt all those years losing to the Bulls, Knicks, and Pistons. We had to earn our respect by getting their 1st. Once you get their, you earn the respect then, not a minute earlier.

Time

May 12th, 2011
7:49 pm

Yes, push it to 7. Make Stern and his cronies and his ESPN cheerleaders sweat.

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:52 pm

i feel guilty about wanting to retire. i hope to get past that in 4 years.

Time

May 12th, 2011
7:52 pm

Listen to this crap. This whole pregame show has been about a Heat vs Bulls finals. Scares me. Maybe ESPN knows that Stern has sent down marching orders.

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:55 pm

Mark, just for curiosity’s sake, is 18 straight days of work your record or are we looking more towards 56 days?

bamaboy1

May 12th, 2011
7:56 pm

Here come the conspiracy theorists – Everyone put on your tin foil hats

The Game Has Changed

May 12th, 2011
7:56 pm

I would like to take this time and thank Drew for doing a great job. Win or lose, this was a great season. If the curtains should happen to close tonight on us we would be joining the other 15 NBA teams that are sitting at home. The Hawks have something special and I dont think firing Drew or getting rid of players would be wise. We are done rebuilding its time to start reloading. Go Hawks. LEAVE IT ALL ON THE COURT TONIGHT.

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:56 pm

much better to say “wheres Mark been?” than not notice you’ve been off.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
7:56 pm

Think I went more than three weeks solid once — back during the 2007 NCAA tournament.

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:57 pm

Time, I dont think Howard Stern has much influence on the NBA

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
7:57 pm

Oh, yes. I’d be displeased if you didn’t notice.

bamaboy1

May 12th, 2011
7:57 pm

oh look at all those red dots…

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
7:58 pm

but now we can tell you are tanned, rested and ready to blog.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
8:00 pm

If the NBA got its druthers, would Kobe Bryant be gone in Round 2?

Joe for 3

May 12th, 2011
8:01 pm

Smoove taking jump shots in warm ups…

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
8:01 pm

it makes me feel proud that i’m considered a regular blogger you dont have to offer kudos to. just like blogging. (and coming in first on occassion).

Willie Beamen

May 12th, 2011
8:01 pm

@ bamaboy1 – Hawks fans never take them off :)

NagoyaHawk

May 12th, 2011
8:02 pm

Wondering what’s gonna happen. I just hate seeing teams like the Bulls and Heat get better after we were superior the last few years. It must eat at the Hawks pride for the national media already talking Bulls-Heat. The Hawks as the underdog cause the team didn’t improve. But you say they did. I still look at this 2010-11 version of the Hawks as a continuation of last year’s team. Not making the Conference Finals is failure. I think I speak for all ATL fans. The Hawks players? Who knows what they’re thinking, but I hope they win tonite and Sunday in Chicago. This city has waited for that much to long. It would trounce Lebron’s display of redemption. This entire fan base would be drowning in it, and then there’d be the champagne.

Come on guys, let’s stick it to them!

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
8:03 pm

was meloncholy a bit ago. turned on a little dusty springfield and now is all right in the world

CONservative Johnson

May 12th, 2011
8:03 pm

Nothing but negativity about the Hawks on ESPN . . .

bamaboy1

May 12th, 2011
8:04 pm

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
8:05 pm

Kudos, todd grantham.

Joe for 3

May 12th, 2011
8:05 pm

Not really conservative johnson, mullin and jalen just picked ATL.

El Bravo

May 12th, 2011
8:06 pm

The numbers are damning; when JJ scores 20+ Hawks win in the playoffs but lose if he scores less than 20. JJ needs to set the tone for us in the first quarter…

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
8:07 pm

Hawks starting Jason Collins at center. Though Al Horford was named third-team All-Pro as a center today.

Joe for 3

May 12th, 2011
8:07 pm

Jon Barry has a clear anti-hawks agenda.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
8:09 pm

Ted Turner seated three seats from Hubie Brown

todd grantham

May 12th, 2011
8:09 pm

3 weeks is 504 hours. assuming you wrote a piece every 8 hours that’s a streak of 63. you bested joltin joe by 7.

CONservative Johnson

May 12th, 2011
8:09 pm

They picked us after nothing but negativity, which just made it even more odd. It was more by the producers of the show; the talking heads go where they are led . . .