The Atlanta Hawks lost 109-101 in Game Two of their first round playoff series with Washington, and now head home on the ropes and in need of a win.
The Atlanta Hawks struggled again in Game Two to put four quarters together, and the Washington Wizards took advantage. With a dominant performance in the fourth quarter, Washington heads to Atlanta needing only to win one game to put a choke hold on the series.
So, what went wrong for Atlanta? Why is this team seemingly so drastically different from Atlanta teams from the recent past? In short, because of everything.
Specifically, in Game Two, the Hawks were stymied and plagued by the same conditions and deficiencies that have been exposed all season. Too many turnovers (even thought they did win that battle in this game-18 to Washington’s 29). Too many missed free throws (even though they did win that battle in Game Two-5 to Washington’s 9). Wait…so, they won the turnover battle and free throw battle and still lost?
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Yes. That will happen when Dwight Howard gives you six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. That will happen when Kent Bazemore, and his $70 million contract, gives you eight points, five rebounds, and four turnovers. To put it bluntly, Atlanta has basically been playing three against six basketball in this series, thus far.
Generally speaking, this 2017 Hawks team is playing nothing like early Mike Budenholzer coached Atlanta teams. Those teams had three signatures and characteristics night in and night out. One, they played hellacious and disciplined defense. Not this team. Two, they moved constantly without the ball. Not this team. Three, they shot the ball incredibly well. Atlanta went 4-20 from behind the three-point line last night. Yikes.
Most everyone expects a face-lift of sorts in the coming off-season. Some are even pointing to a full-blown rebuild. Reality is nobody really knows, because nobody really knows what Coach Bud is trying to do with this team.
Still, Atlanta comes home to supportive fans, and can still make some of their own noise. If the shots drop, and defensive effort increases, our beloved Atlanta Hawks can still win this series.
But some things have to change to do that. If not, we’re going to be seeing a whole lot of change in the off-season…and sooner than later.