Greetings! As the regular season came to a close, it wasn’t exactly an uplifting end to the long, 82-game ride. Let’s take a quick look at what went down during the season’s final week.
Hawks vs. Raptors — Tuesday, April 16th — Loss (113-96)
The first indication that Atlanta was in trouble here came in the pre-game when Al Horford was declared “out” with an injury. Then, it became apparent on the court (in a hurry) that the Hawks weren’t particularly invested. No Hawks regular played more than 18 minutes in the game, and while Mike Scott and Ivan Johnson both posted double-doubles, that was about the only positive thing to say about this performance. The starters were disengaged (Josh Smith played 13 minutes, for example) and the bench couldn’t get any sustained offense going (2-13 FG from John Jenkins), which led the a sub-40% shooting night. When that was coupled with some outrageous perimeter shooting by the Raptors (Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan combined for 6-for-12 from three), things got out of hand. I would be more worried if Horford and the starters had played, but it was still a lackluster effort from the tip.
Hawks @ Knicks — Wednesday, April 17th — 8:00 PM ET
For all of the negatives above, this game basically is a throwaway. The Hawks played without their entire starting five for the entire game, as Horford, Smith, Korver, Teague, and Harris all sat out, and the Knicks took the court without Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Raymond Felton, and Tyson Chandler. The leading scorer in the game was Chris Copeland with 33 points, Earl Barron grabbed 18 rebounds for New York, and the Hawks shot 2-for-21 from three-point distance. If we wanted to grasp at straws, Mike Scott produced at a high rate yet again, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, and my man-love for him grows daily. Other than that? Nothing to see here.
It’s a rough week for evaluation, so I’ll say this. I have no idea what the plan was here. I understand that the Hawks wanted to have the regulars rested and ready for the playoffs, but with a noticeably more difficult match-up with Indiana on the horizon, I would’ve gone full-tilt in order to set-up a more winnable first-round battle with Brooklyn. Alas, that did not happen, and it’s time to focus on the Pacers. Stay tuned.