NEW YORK — The first-round playoff series between the Nets and the Hawks had been surprisingly competitive through its first five contests, but Atlanta finally restored a sense of order to the basketball world by putting together the type of dominating performance that many expected from the very start.
The Hawks demonstrated the elite level of offense that carried them to victories in 40 of their first 48 games of the regular season, and used strong first- and third-quarter stretches to put the game away.
Atlanta led by as many as 28 points in the second half, on the way to a 111-87 victory that eliminated the Nets from the postseason. It was Atlanta’s first playoff series victory since 2011.
The Hawks took control early by establishing a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter, on a remarkable 72.2 percent shooting. Kyle Korver got loose repeatedly for open looks, which is unconscionable from a defensive team with any hopes at all of slowing the Atlanta attack.
Brooklyn briefly showed signs of life in the second, and cut a lead which reached 15 points in the period to just six at the intermission. There was nothing the Nets could hang their hats on, however, because most of the damage was done by Atlanta’s poor shooting from the team’s reserve unit. The Hawks scored just 15 points in the quarter on 31.6 percent shooting, but the Nets weren’t much better with a mark of 34.8 percent themselves.
The third quarter is where the Hawks stepped on their opponents’ throats.
Atlanta opened the second half on a blistering 23-3 run to put the game away for good, which rendered the fourth quarter nothing more than extended garbage time.
One example of just how much the Hawks were rolling: Jeff Teague, who was instrumental in scoring 20 points in Atlanta’s Game 5 victory, finished this one scoreless in 24 minutes of action, on 0-of-5 shooting. But he was masterful nonetheless, both in running the offense and attacking aggressively on the defensive end of the floor. Teague finished with 13 assists, and his team was a plus-27 during his somewhat limited time on the floor.
“I don’t think that Jeff scored a point tonight, but his presence and fingerprints were all over the game, and I thought it was one of the best games that I’ve ever seen Jeff play,” Korver said. “His focus and energy really fueled that third quarter.”
The Hawks advance to face the Wizards in the second round. Game 1 is Sunday in Atlanta at 1:00 p.m. ET.