I am not about handing out passes but I won’t say that I was surprised at the outcome of last night’s game. What was surprising and ultimately more painful was the fact that the Hawks grabbed control of this game and squandered it at the end. The result of two grueling overtime wins over the Bobcats and Spurs had the Hawks worn down physically. It was about halfway through the overtime period against the Spurs that I remembered the Bucks game on the next night. That made winning the Spurs game all the more important because coming to Milwaukee with tired legs was going to make winning that much harder.
The Hawks had control of this game, however the one bad defensive quarter came during the fourth tonight instead of the first and didn’t allow them the time to erase the mistake. Still any game that is played where the losing team only makes 46% of their free throw attempts is not a game that they will win usually. Even with the tired legs the Hawks still could have won if they had converted at the charity stripe.
While this may in fact be a playoff preview this loss won’t effect that potential series in any way. There is still too much basketball left to be played in the regular season. If the Bucks do take anything away it will be the fact that they were able to get John Salmons any match up that they wanted down the stretch due to the Hawks constant switching screens. This is a repeat from the last two games where the scores have been close and teams have isolated Raymond Felton or Manu Ginobli up against Al Horford and Josh Smith. If the opposing team thinks they know what is coming then why not throw a wrinkle at them? Trap the ball handler maybe? Not every time but the element of surprise is still a valuable thing and predictability on the basketball court is a weakness.
Stat wise Joe Johnson put up 27 points on 13-25 shooting. Jamal Crawford tossed in 21 points on 9-16 shooting so the two big guns had a pretty good night shooting the ball. Al Horford had a solid double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. As is always mentioned in my recaps he probably could have used some more touches throughout the game. Josh Smith had a pedestrian game with 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Marvin Williams otherwise disappeared. On a night after he puts up 26 points and 9 rebounds he comes away with 2 points on 1-2 shooting? So he follows up one of his best performances of the season with one of his least active? Also worth mentioning, Mike Bibby tossed in 11 points on 4-7 shooting. For the game the Hawks shot a higher percentage from the field than they did from the free throw line. 52%-46%