Greetings! With some help from the NCAA Title Game, the Hawks had some extra rest before a sparse, two-game week, and they were able to take advantage. Let’s take a quick glance at what went down.
Hawks @ Sixers — Wednesday, April 10th — Win (124-101)
This was a dominant road win for Atlanta, and it was led by the offense. The Hawks shot a blistering 54% from the field on the night, led by one of the best games of the season from Josh Smith. Smith shot 11-for-18 from the field, a shocking 5-for-5 from the free throw line, scored 28 points, and grabbed 12 rebounds in just 29 minutes, and was generally the best player on the court. Al Horford (16 points, 9 rebounds), Jeff Teague (13 points, 11 assists), and John Jenkins (21 points, 6 assists, 3-4 3-PT) all had tremendous games for Atlanta, and Philadelphia had no answers. It’s tough to avoid being tantalized by this performance, as “Good Josh” reared his head for the entirety of the game, but it is a reminder of just how tremendous he can be when everything is going right. Solid win.
Hawks vs. Bucks — Friday, April 12th — Win (109-104)
Milwaukee put up a fight throughout in this one, but the starting five produced in a big way and the Hawks were able to hold on for a big home win. Smith, Horford, and Teague all played 38+ minutes in this game, with Horford playing 43 minutes to anchor the middle, and each guy played well. Horford led all rebounders with 17, and added 18 points, while Smith and Teague scored 24 points each, and Teague had another double-double with 10 assists. The achilles heel for Atlanta in this game was at the free-throw line (17 for 25), but 51% from the field helped to overcome that, and the defensive effort was strong for most of the night, holding the Bucks (putrid) offense to 41% shooting. Milwaukee was able to stay in the game on the back of the three-point shot (where they made a staggering 17 of 33), but Atlanta walled off the paint, and was able to overcome that barrage.
At an absolutely crucial point of the season, the Atlanta Hawks went out and took care of business in two winnable games, and as a result, they currently hold a half-game lead (with Chicago playing in Miami as I type this) for the 5th seed, and if the Hawks can hold serve next week, they will successfully avoid the Pacers in round one. Every game counts in April, and tensions are high. Stay tuned.