The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Indiana Pacers 102-91 on Monday night to even up the series at 2-2. What impressed me the most was their ball movement, which continued to stay great for the second straight game.
The Hawks were 2nd in the league in assists during the regular season and their unselfishness contributed to many great passing performances throughout the season. Over games 1 and 2, the Hawks passed the ball well, but timely baskets were hard to come by and they struggled in the halfcourt game. In Games 3 and 4, the Hawks dictated the tempo for most of those 8 quarters (I’m looking at you, 3rd quarter of Game 4!) and their ball movement (mainly the use of hockey assists and solid post opportunities).
One play stuck out in my mind from Game 4:
With 2:38 remaining in the 4th quarter, Al Horford missed a running hook. Josh Smith fought hard for the rebound (which I loved) and noticed Kyle Korver WIDE OPEN in the right wing. He makes the pass and Korver is total drain-o.
That one play signified the hustle and ball movement that the Hawks brought to the table in both Games 3 and 4. Josh Smith finished Game 4 with 29 and 11, stamping his name on the series.
An observation that caught my mind after Game 4 kind of shocked me. In Games 3 and 4, both Jeff Teague and Devin Harris shot under 40% and the Hawks stayed fluid on the offensive end and got the victory. This proves my “Aggression Theory”, where even if the guards have off shooting nights their aggressive play leads to more baskets and open opportunities. Remember that one for Game 5 in Indy.
Lastly, I loved the way the crowd got behind the Hawks during their big run in the 2nd quarter and towards the end of the game. Playing basketball is much more exciting when you have fans cheering you on and the squad has fed off the energy well. This one fan kind of weirded me out, but his enthusiasm was spectacular nonetheless.
Courtesy of SB Nation: