Tag: Atlanta Milwaukee

NBA Playoffs: High flying Hawks

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This is what it looks like when the Hawks are at their best. We’re going to have to see a lot of this for Atlanta to to have any chance against Orlando.

NBA Playoffs: Bucks Hawks Game 7: We've got drama

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Thumbnail image for Jennings_win.jpgDrama. This series has had plenty of it. More than it has had beautiful basketball, it has had drama. Games seven are by their very nature, dramatic.

This is going to be fun to watch. Pretty? Probably not. But entertaining.

The strategy here is pretty simple, it’s played out over the series. In their three wins, the Bucks took advantage of the Hawks switching every pick-and-roll to get a Hawk big — Josh Smith or Al Horford — isolated on quick guards Brandon Jennings and Al Horford. Then they attack. Smith and Horford are two very athletic guys who give a lot a people trouble, but they can’t do too much in isolation that far from the basket, without some help.

 In the Bucks wins Jennings and Salmons got into the lane in these situations and hit layups. Then they hit their jump shots that came when Horford and Smith took a step back to stop the penetration.

In game six the Hawks did better at being aggressive on defense, of pushing Salmons and Jennings to help, and stopping the parade of layups. Then Jennings and Salmons missed their jumpers.

That’s what to look for early — what shots are Jennings and Salmons getting, and are they hitting them?

The other thing to see is how fast Atlanta is scoring. The Bucks are not going to win if the score gets up too high, they want to grind it out. If the Hawks can get some easy buckets in transition, if Horford and Smith and Jamal Crawford can get hot, they can run away with this.

The Hawks are the better team with much better athletes, but playoff basketball is about is matchups. For three games the Bucks got the ones they wanted and exploited them. In game six, the Hawks were more aggressive and shut those down. The Hawks should win this game and this series. Should. They are the better team. But I wouldn’t bet on it, because the Bucks will fight hard, they are scrappers.

Whatever it is, it will be dramatic.

NBA Playoffs, Bucks Hawks Game 6: Ugliest playoff game of the year, but Atlanta will take it.

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JSmith_Salmons.jpgThat was about as much fun to watch as a 1998 Knicks playoff game. There was nothing pretty about it.

The Atlanta Hawks don’t care; they won 83-69 to force a game seven Sunday in Atlanta.

Atlanta had an offensive rating of 98.8 (points per 100) possessions, Milwaukee 82.2. (The Nets on the season had an offensive rating of 98.1 this season, dead last in the league, if you want a measuring stick). Atlanta shot 38 percent, Milwaukee 31 percent. The Hawks shot 38 percent from three, the Bucks. 27%. If you liked the chance to see rebounders in action, this was the game. And really, who doesn’t buy tickets to see shots hit the rim and rebounding.

But rebounding was a key for the Hawks — they grabbed the offensive rebound on 30 percent of their missed shots. This was the first game since game two where the Hawks looked like the dominant team in the paint.

The Hawks pulled away in a 29-11 run in the third quarter – their defense coming from the bigs that struggled to contain John Salmons and Brandon Jennings in the three losses. Josh Smith seemed quicker, Al Horford was more active. When switched on to the Bucks penetrating guards, they did a better job of guiding to help, not just getting beat.

It forced the Bucks into shooting jumpers. After a few games where those shots fell for the Bucks, they did not in game six. Jennings was 1 of 9 from outside the paint. Salmons was just 2 of 7.

Despite all that, the Hawks did not blow this game open, at least until late. They had just 31 points in the first half on 32.5 percent shooting. The Hawks offense remained too much isolation, very little flow. And if Plan A doesn’t work, well, there is no Plan B. The Bucks did what they had to on defense, they just couldn’t hit a shot.

I have no idea what game seven is going to look like. But please, Lord, don’t let it look like this.