The Hawks closed the regular season with a strong outing against the Mavericks, clinching home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with the 106-89 victory.
The outcome was never in doubt as the Hawks jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, scoring a total of 38 points on an astounding 13-17 shooting onslaught. All five Hawks starters scored before the first substitution, including Jason Collins who finished around the hoop relatively well, scoring 6 points on the night.
Dirk Nowitzki scored two early baskets, showing signs of a dominant night before Atlanta caught fire and made nearly every shot they took. It was a balanced effort in which the Hawks controlled the game from start to finish, showing no signs of wanting to travel to Boston for a Sunday showdown.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Player Grades: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their game performance.
Joe Johnson: B+
An all around solid night for Joe who had 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. He was 7-11 from the field and made some nice jumpers and floaters. He helped dictate the Hawks’ pace early on in the first quarter and only played 24 minutes as the Hawks were able to coast for most of the night.
Josh Smith: A+
This is the first A+ I’ve ever handed out, and Smith definitely deserves it after tonight’s outing. I usually don’t support his jump shooting fetish, but there is no denying the marked improvement he’s made. He went 10-14 from the floor, good for 23 points, and dished 7 assists and pulled down nine boards as well. He only played 28 minutes, and if this was a competitive game there is little doubt that he would have messed around and gotten a triple double. Great game from Josh, hopefully we see this in Boston on Sunday.
Jason Collins: B-
He was actually pretty impressive on Thursday night, making a mid range jumper and slamming the ball through off a Josh Smith feed. He tried as best he could to rotate defensively, but sometimes the speed just isn’t there. It could have been the most active Collins game of the season. That’s the way to end the regular season on a good note, Twin.
Kirk Hinrich: B
Hinrich had a solid game as he made two early three pointers before bricking a few in garbage time. He hounded Delonte West defensively throughout the first quarter, causing turnovers and getting the Hawks out in transition. All Hinrich needs to do to be effective in the playoffs is make open jumpers and put the clamps down on his man defensively. If he does that night in and night out, he’ll be a huge asset in the post season.
Jeff Teague: B+
Teague scored 17 points and, just like pretty much every other Hawk tonight, had a great shooting performance, going 7-11. He had a massive tomahawk slam after a steal and swished some tear drops and three pointers. He dished out five assists and also pulled down 2 rebounds.
Jerry Stackhouse: D
Well…. he made a shot. I guess there’s that.
Erick Dampier: N/A
I just can’t give him a grade. He played five minutes in garbage time and stopped a Dominique Jones dunk by taking him out while he was in the air. Aside from that, there just wasn’t enough to judge a performance.
Tracy McGrady: C+
His jump shot wasn’t falling, but he found other ways to contribute. He pulled down 8 rebounds and passed out 4 assists. He had a few nifty passes in transition and found ways to help the team even with a struggling jumper.
Vladimir Radmanovic: C-
The only thing stopping this from being in the D/F range was his epic dunk with about a minute to go in the blowout. Yes, it was enough to lift his grade that much.
Willie Green: B-
Willie helped the Hawks put some distance on the Mavericks as he made a few baskets in the first half, and then did the same thing in the second. He finished with 11 points and was 2-3 from downtown. Just your typical Willie Green night.
Marvin Williams: D+
For the most part, Marvin was invisible on the court, scoring six points and making one three pointer. He played a decent amount and didn’t produce much in that time. Forgettable game after a few good ones against New York and LA.
Ivan Johnson: C+
Ivan scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. He was especially active on the offensive glass. Even though he only had one offensive rebound, he still made his presence felt on more than one occasion and was able to get under the opponent’s skin while fighting for position.
SDS Plays of the Game:
The opening tip, really. Dirk made a jumper, then Jason Collins scored, then Dirk made another jumper, but after that, Dallas had trouble getting anything going offensively. Smith abused Dallas inside and out (mainly out) as he had 12 first quarter points. By the end of the first quarter, the Hawks were up by 17 points and the Mavericks were already preparing to take on the Thunder in their first round series.
SDS Player of the Game: Josh Smith
Smith was all kinds of brilliant Thursday night, making jumpers and hook shots, finding the open man, and being extremely active on the glass. He found Jason Collins for a slam dunk in the third quarter (highlight of the season for Collins) and took Dirk for a ride as he abused his defense in most ways imaginable. When Smoove is making outside shots, the opposition doesn’t stand much of a chance.
There really isn’t too much to say about this game. We dominated from the start and were extremely hot from outside. If we shoot like this consistently, which, bear in mind is impossible, we’d be unbeatable. At this point, the focus of the team should be on preparing for Boston and getting a healthy Pargo and Zaza. While Horford has been ruled out of the Boston series, if we advance his services would be about as beneficial as possible against what will most likely be Chicago. But let’s take this one step at a time. We have Boston on Sunday, and that is most definitely the number one priority.
The Hawks take on the Celtics at a to-be-determined time on Sunday. Stay tuned as SDS will have all the hawks playoff news and previews you desire in the coming days.