If the Atlanta Hawks are intent on making the playoffs this season, they needed a win Tuesday night again the Detroit Pistons. Josh Smith wasn’t available to play for Detroit due to some left knee issues, which saved him getting booed inside the Highlight Factory yet again. Still, the way Josh has been playing of late, I think it actually makes Detroit a more complete team when he’s not on the floor. Atlanta fans can relate. Josh can put up 26 points one night in a win, then somehow put up just 4 in 25 minutes in a bad loss. As such, Detroit went with a starting lineup of Monroe, Singler, Drummond, Jennings, and Stuckey to oppose Atlanta’s Millsap, Carroll, Antic, Teague, and Korver.
On paper, the match-up favored the Hawks. Detroit was 11-26 on the road, and Atlanta was 22-15 at home. When Millsap, Teague, and Korver can all start, the Hawks have won 3 of their last 4. However, the Hawks started poorly and found themselves in an 8 point hole at the end of the first quarter. They cut that to just 6 points at the half, but the problem was Detroit scoring 58 points before the break. That early shoddy defense really hurt a Hawks team that couldn’t seem to catch up all game. With time running down, and 2:30 left in the game, the Hawks still trailed Detroit 94-90. With the game on the line, the Hawks only made a single shot from the field, and that’s what finally did them in.
The problem in this game was awful shot selection. The Hawks shot, and I’m not exaggerating here, 35 three pointers in the game. They made 9 of those, and that’s a 26% clip, which is not a great percentage when you decide to take that many triples, which a team honestly never should. With the team shooting 38.6% from the floor, they had almost no chance against a team with a pulse. Detroit was just good enough in that regard. Rodney Stuckey was the difference maker for Detroit, getting 29 points with 4 assists and 4 boards. Millsap had a great game with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but he was practically working by himself out there. DeMarre Carroll was flat-out awful offensively, shooting 2-10 from the field, 0-5 from three, and only 8 points in 35 minutes.
It’s not encouraging to see this kind of a lackluster effort out of the Hawks, especially at home, and even worse with the playoff berth on the line. This now opens the door for a New York team that would have been essentially out of the running with a win. Now, the Hawks have to play Boston on a back-to-back Wednesday, which could be good or bad. It’s good that they are playing Boston, who has lost 8 in row, and obviously doesn’t care what happens for the rest of the season. It’s bad because Boston hasn’t played since Saturday, and will be completely rested against a Hawks team that played the night before.
The Hawks will need to man up overnight, and take care of a bad Boston team to keep ahead of the Knicks nipping at their heels.