The Atlanta Hawks had the Indiana Pacers right where they wanted them, in Atlanta. Boasting a 3-2 series lead, the Hawks looked to send the Pacers on a long miserable flight home. They sent the Pacers home, but it wasn’t a miserable flight as the Pacers beat the Hawks 95-88.
That was Atlanta’s big chance. The Hawks played in front of an excited and loud crowd, something not too common at Philips Arena. This crowd looked like the same crowd from the dramatic 2008 Boston Celtics series that saw the Hawks win all three home games but lose the series to the eventual champs.
The Hawks had a five point lead with just over three minutes to play. Momentum was on Atlanta’s side.
Then the team hit the self-destruct button as the Hawks offense struggled to score. Indiana outscored the Hawks 16-4 in the final three minutes of the game, fueling them to a seven point victory.
The Hawks finished the season with the second highest assist total (behind the Spurs) of 24.9. The playoffs have been a different story, only averaging 17.0 team assists (worst of all playoff teams).
Atlanta is a team without superstars, a team that relies on team play. Passing is the single most important aspect of coach Mike Budenholzer’s new offensive system. The reason the Hawks won 38 regular season games was due to great ball movement that led to wide open shots.
In game six, the Hawks only had 17 assist, almost eight less than its season average.
The city of Atlanta rejoiced when the Hawks were able to unload Joe Johnson’s max contract two seasons ago. This was not because Johnson was bad, because he was the “Man” in Atlanta in 2008 when he dropped 20 fourth quarter points in game four against the Boston Celtics. Fans became frustrated through the following years because we started an “Iso-Joe” offense that didn’t work.
That’s what Atlanta fans saw last night late in the game. A lot of “I’m going to be the hero” from players like Jeff Teague and Lou Williams. If they would have moved the ball around more, better results were bound to come.
Give Teague some credit, as he dropped in 29 points. He was good not great, as he only had TWO assists. That’s your point guard. He sets up the offense and should be using his explosive speed to set others up, but instead he seemed to be focused solely on scoring.
Nothing wrong with his performance as he shot 9-21 from the field and took mostly good shots, but we need more from Teague.
Expect Teague to come back hungry for a win in game seven in Indiana Saturday night in game seven.
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