Posted: 11:55 pm Monday, April 28th, 2014

The eighth-seeded Hawks – one step from Round 2 

By Mark Bradley

The happy Hawks celebrate a Naptown beatdown. (Darron Cummings/AP)

The happy Hawks celebrate a Naptown beatdown. (Darron Cummings/AP)

INDIANAPOLIS

Three observations regarding the Atlanta Hawks, a No. 8 seed on the verge of a major upset after Monday’s 107-97 victory in a Game 5 the Hawks once led by 30 points.

1. First of all, this isn’t a major upset. The Hawks have beaten the Indiana Pacers, who’ve lost eight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season, on their home floor three times in 22 days. In two of those games, the Hawks led by at least 30 points. In the other, they led by 20. They’re a terrible matchup for the Pacers, who won 56 games because they’re great at clogging the lane on defense. The Hawks have unclogged it so adroitly they should change their nickname to the Roto-Rooters. Indiana entered the series wondering if Roy Hibbert could guard the jump-shooting Pero Antic, but it turns out none of the Pacers can guard any of the Hawks. Six scored in double figures in Game 5, including subs Shelvin Mack, who scored 20 points and made five assists in 25 minutes, and fellow B-teamer Mike Scott, who scored 17 in the second quarter — 12 of those coming on four 3-pointers in the span of 106 seconds.

How did he get so open so often? Said Scott: “It was the same game plan we’ve been doing all year, the pick-and-pops. They sagged off — they were worried about Mack. After the first two, my mindset that I was going to shoot anyway. It was a heat-check shot, and it banked in. And then I hit another one.”

2. Second of all, the Hawks aren’t really a No. 8 seed. They were third in the Eastern Conference on Feb. 1, whereupon the loss of Al Horford began to tell and subsequent injuries befell Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap. They lost 14 of 15 and 20 of 26, but when they finally got healthy — Horford remains out — they finished by winning six of the final eight. As Korver has said, the Hawks were really three teams this season, and the one they are now is quite good. “We’re not your normal No. 8 seed,” DeMarre Carroll said Monday. “People forget we were a third seed halfway through the season.”

Said Indiana coach Frank Vogel, speaking before Game 5: “There’s a perception that they’re this horrible eighth seed that doesn’t belong in the playoffs. Let me reiterate that’s the perception, which I don’t share.”

3. Finally, the Pacers aren’t much of a No. 1 seed. The Hawks get a good shot almost every trip. The Pacers get a good shot once every three trips. They have no real point guard, and they’ve been reduced to having no center, which sounds strange, given that Hibbert made the All-Star team. But he’s so wretched now that he can’t make a shot, can’t take a rebound, can barely catch the ball. He scored no points and took no rebounds in Game 5. (He did, however, commit four fouls in 12 minutes.) Antic didn’t do much Monday, but he outscored an All-Star 1-0 and outrebounded him 2-0.

Said Vogel, speaking after a game that saw his vaunted defense yield 41 second-quarter points: “We’re playing a team that plays a style that’s capable of doing that.”

And the Hawks are playing a team they’ve come, as odd as it sounds, to own. They’ve had a double-digit lead in all six games against the Pacers this month, and the No. 1 seed sounds ready to collapse. Said David West: “We didn’t have an urgency. Everybody’s got to be ready to play. We’re fighting for our lives. It’s just really disappointing.”

From myajc.com, our premium site: The Hawks are one game from an upset that’s not.

Also from myajc.com: Why these aren’t the same old Hawks.

 

42 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

That was it. Had to win Game 6. Another Atlanta pro sports teams fizzles when the Big Prize is on the line.

Dman
Dman

Number 5 looks like Clowney.

Dman
Dman

Wow, I never thought the Hawks would make the playoffs and now they are about to win a series against the top seed. Go Hawks...

JaySly
JaySly

ATl win this series in 6 then will beat the wizards in 5--mark it down.  these hawks ready for miami.

Wilbo
Wilbo

My question is-- can the Hawks win a Game 7? I don't think they can. Game 6 is for round 2

cspecial
cspecial

someone please tell bob ratbun to shut up and promote the hawks.dominique was giving him a look the other night. I know he was shocked.he was right in the officials ear during the review time out saying jeff Teague was out of bounds.what if that would have influenced the official to reverse the call.he is suppose to be promoting the hawks but sometimes it seems hes wants them to lose.

GASports
GASports

Sign a star in the offseason and this team is tough next year!


ComaToes
ComaToes

I'm just amazed that folks are still watching the NBA, even the Hawks.  It's a league full of "thugs" and owners like the guy in CA, and Mark Cuban.  Even loaded with hypocrisy and a double-standard,  as evidenced by Charles Barkley and him saying "it's a Black league".  What if someone said about MLB that "it's a White league?"  I dumped the NBA years ago and consider them totally irrelevant and just a nuisance on TV this time of the year. The NBA could go away for good and it wouldn't bother me a bit.

Rickster_
Rickster_

Wake me up when/if the Hawks make it to Round 2. They've been in this situation too many times before and haven't gotten there.

-sting-
-sting-

People forget we were a third seed halfway through the season.

problem is we were last year as well

in all this positive as a long time atl fan

i am edgy

:-)

EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

Just close it out tomorrow....please

JeanLE
JeanLE

I am so proud of these Hawks!! I believe in Coach Bud an his plan, last night's win was crazy awesome!!! Nique said it, the bench brigade needs to give this team some quality minutes and then they went above and beyond that! Game balls to Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack, they sparked this team to the win! Then Kyle started nailing the 3's and it was just contagious! Nothing makes me happier than seeing Frank Vogel and his team of whiners unhappy!! Go Hawks, get 'em Thursday!!

Kramerica Industries
Kramerica Industries

"Indiana entered the series wondering if Roy Hibbert could guard the jump-shooting Pero Antic, but it turns out none of the Pacers can guard any of the Hawks."  That's a great line, Mark.

EnusStokesberry
EnusStokesberry

@Birdhair So let me get this straight.  Wren is good enough to get them to the post-season, but not win a series.  that makes 0 sense.  

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

These mutts and mongrels have been incredible in the playoffs! Danny ferry has taken a group of castoffs and nobodies and with the guidance of coach Bud they have made a great team out of these guys. Let's hope that the Hawks will bring some supplements in next year to help this roster of hard playing quality players. But I am honestly not convinced he's going to do that.

badbrad23
badbrad23

Might not have tanked to get a lottery pick, but you've got to like what Coach Bud and Danny Ferry are doing to make the Hawks competitive.  Actually enjoyable to watch their style of play.

Birdhair
Birdhair

The 8th seeded hawks 1 win from round 2 and it's not a major upset. - Mark Bradley

A 1 seed beating an 8 seed is a legit suprise irrespective of the regular season results. Hawks mgmt deserve significant praise for this.

The Atlanta Braves - 4 more seasons after this one with no playoff series wins and we'll be at Don Waddel level of failure under Wren's leadership.

The hawks brought in Ferry and a new coach and are already on the verge of winning a playoff series! Something Wren hasn't been able to accomplish in 6 seasons. Wren walked into a gold mine. Ferry walked into a rebuild complete mess and quickly got rid of terrible contracts and underachieving players. Wren ties up nearly 30% of our payroll in deadweight and prevents us from becoming a legit contender and the ajc praises him.

GaryTanner
GaryTanner

The only writer in the U.S. to see and rationally explain why this series isn't completely about a collapse of the Pacers. The Hawks have been a pretty darn good team all season, except during that stretch when they were overwhelmed with injuries.

VanguardETFs
VanguardETFs

I love me some Mark Bradley.  Great column. And I love the fact we have something to root for in Atlanta.  Rare.  But fun indeed.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Sterling is a Democrat.............lol.............

seminoleking
seminoleking

good point about the hawks being ranked 3rd before horford went out. also, people dont know that the hawks ranked second in the nba behind san antonio, in assists. they are a good squad. and think about this, they are STILL in rebuilding mode. this gonna be a scary franchise to deal with.....

ErvinOliver
ErvinOliver

I still predict Pacers win in 6... =)

jeeperscrow
jeeperscrow

@GASports Agree. Wish they could find an all star type center. Then get Al back and watch out!

rgus
rgus

@YogiBare The tells us everything we need to know about you. Trust me no one miss you one bit.RGus

mtatl
mtatl

@YogiBare  Why are you reading articles about the NBA and then spending the time to comment on them if you consider them "totally irrelevant"?

Birdhair
Birdhair

@EnusStokesberry @Birdhair You can win a weak division every few years or so and not be built to contend in the playoffs. How is that such a hard concept to comprehend? If you dont have an ace it's difficult to win a playoff series. If you dont have strong enough OBP it's tough. Wren has failed to build a team with both strong OBP and strong ERA. That's why he's failed in the playoffs. You face the best of the best a la adam wainwright or kershaw twice in a 5 game series.

Renia
Renia

@Iluvnutella  

This is not about politics,but the Hawks. Can we ever have a discussion and someone not bring in polarizing issues. There are several blogs geared towards politics. Take your comments there and GET OFF OF THIS BLOG!

ComaToes
ComaToes

@Iluvnutella    SSSSHHHHH,   the liberal news media is trying to keep that a secret !  Ever notice the news media will identify someone who "screws up" or does something wrong as a "CONSERVATIVE" but never label them as a "LIBERAL" ?

ComaToes
ComaToes

@mtatl    OH,  BTW,  I didn't read the article, just for the record.  Waste of time.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@mtatl    Exercising my right as an American to comment on and expose such idiocy!  Although that is fast becoming something from the past, due to the current administration and ideology that exists now days.

GGee
GGee

Ill take that bet also... Game 6 will be OUR turn to celebrate

tylerdee
tylerdee

@YogiBare @mtatl

Yeah Yogibare...go play ball on a freeway or something. This Blog is for the people who cares!