The Atlanta Hawks won Game 1 and once again proved a lot of people wrong. Last series, quite a few bloggers picked the Hawks to get swept by the Magic. This series, I read many blogs/articles predicting that the Hawks would get swept by the Chicago Bulls. Once again, a lot of people are wrong*.
*I’m one of the people wrong too. I picked the Hawks to lose Game 1. Give me a break though, I did say the Hawks will push this series to Game 7 while other people didn’t give them a chance.
I’ve said this many times (in the playoffs), you can’t count this team out. This is a whole different team we’re seeing. This isn’t the Atlanta Hawks team we saw in the regular season, it’s a whole different beast. They’re playing defense in a higher level, they’re hustling like they never have before, they are more focused on rebounding, they’re looking more comfortable on offense. They are not what we thought they would be (are).
I know what you’re thinking, “it’s just one game”. You’re right, it is. There’s a chance I’ll be eating these words by the end of Game 2 if the Hawks get completely blown out. This team is one of the hardest teams to predict. However, I don’t think I will be. Out of the 7 playoff games the Hawks have played, there is only one game (Game 5 vs. Orlando) you can argue that they just didn’t show up and play. If my gut feeling is correct, and it usually has been amazingly right recently, this team won’t take their foot off the gas pedal in Game 2.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the Atlanta Hawks are the better team already and that they will win this series. I’m simply saying that the Hawks isn’t a bad team. The way the media and the internet world talks about this team, one would think the Hawks a lottery team. They’re not. This game kinda proves that wrong, right?
Another point I’m trying to make is that the Hawks won because of what they did right and not what the opposing team did wrong. That’s the mindset every media outlet and basketball analyst seem to have when the Hawks win a game. Sure, some are warranted, but at some point in time, you need to give this team some of the credit.
It’s not like the Chicago Bulls did everything wrong and the Atlanta Hawks did everything right. You can talk about Derrick Rose having a sub par game, but Luol Deng had an above average game. I know that doesn’t completely even things out, but you can’t say “The Hawks won’t win this series because they can’t rely on Derrick Rose on having nights like these”. But the same thing can be flipped to Luol Deng. Can the Bulls win this series if they have to rely on Deng having to have these type of nights?**
**Luol Deng finished with 21 points in 8-12 shooting (66%).
Also, it’s not like the Hawks did everything right in this game. Sure, you can’t count on Joe Johnson shooting like that every night and Teague playing that well for 40 minutes consistently***. But again, can you expect Josh Smith to play as horrible as he did yesterday? I know he’s had bad nights offensively before, but I don’t think see Josh Smith going 3 for 11 from the field and only scoring 8 points every night.
***Joe Johnson had 34 points 12-18 shooting and Jeff Teague scored 10 points in 5-11 shooting while playing some good defense on Derrick Rose.
Again, I’m not changing my prediction of the Hawks losing this series (yet), I just wanted to give this Hawks team some credit and props. They are playing well, above anyone’s expectations. That’s 5 games out of the 7 games they have done that.
The pressure is on Chicago now. The Hawks have once again stolen homecourt advantage. The Chicago Bulls not only has the pressure to win Game 2, but win at least one game in Philips Arena. Game 2 will be played tomorrow (Wednesday), 8:00 on TNT.