Sunday, May 4, 2008

ATLANTA HAWKS DOWN

Quotable: “From day one, I told this team that anything is possible when you get into the playoffs – and this team believes that,” -- Atlanta Hawks’ coach, Michael Woodson.

The decibel level in the Philips Arena reached the highest level it had been since the Hawks faced the Bulls in Round 1 of the 1998 NBA playoffs. Whether it was the record breaking 20,425 fans that packed into Philips Arena, chanting and hollering ‘Seven’ after a passionate speech by Zaza Pachulia proclaiming Atlanta’s game seven inducing performance or a byproduct of Hawks’ coach, Michael Woodson’s own brand of tough love locker room pep talk before the game – the Atlanta Hawks are on the brink of creating NBA history. As Hawks fans will tell you, Atlanta is down BUT their NOT out! With 1:07 left to play, a three pointer by Hawks shooting guard, Joe Johnson clinched a 103-100 victory for Atlanta and forced the series to Game 7 today. You have to give the Hawks credit.

Said Garnett: "Joe Johnson is the most underrated player in our league besides [Detroit's] Rasheed Wallace. He's underrated ... I'll give it to him. He played his [butt] off."

The Celtics are not the only ones stunned into silence at the prospect of a seven game series in the first round. They seem to have bought into ESPN analysts’ theories that they will simply steamroll through the Eastern Conference for a picture-perfect finish where they will lounge lazily awaiting their Western Conference opponent in the Finals.

From the beginning of the season to after the Celtics' acquired underestimated veteran Sam Cassell, I held fast to my no bandwagon jumping policy. Sure the Celtics held the NBA record for the best 1 season turnaround, showcasing a 42 win improvement (also an NBA record) which brings us to their 66-16 record, they have the best win-loss record in the league. Impressive to some, to me they’re lack of intensity on the road is an indication that all that glitters is not gold. The more experienced Celtics’ still have some lessons in championship contenders to get under their belt. The Hawks' have fought tooth and nail to force a potential sweep into a jaw dropping seven game series, shell-shocking Boston Celtics and basketball enthusiasts everywhere. Should they pull of a win today, A 37-45 Atlanta would be the worst team to advance since the 1976 Pistons, and the first losing team to beat a No. 1 overall seed in a best-of-seven series.

While a win at the Garden to advance to round 2 seems highly unlikely, the unexpected fight from secondary players like a usually underperforming Zaza Puchilia and a recently injured, Marvin Williams gave Atlanta an edge to counter the 3 consecutive 23, 19 and 25 point losses to Boston on the road. Saying that Atlanta has found a way to get under Boston's heavily guarded armor is an understatement -- the Hawks' have managed to crawl under the Celtics' skin! Despite pressure cooking defense by the Celtics’ to force the Hawks to beat them with secondary players and to put up tough shots, the Hawks’ rallied from behind an 8pt deficit with 16 straight possessions in the second half of Game 6. The inability to maintain their notorious intensity on the court has analysts focusing on what they deem as two key weaknesses in Boston’s killer arsenal. Namely Kevin Garnett’s tendency to disappear in close games away from the Garden and Boston Celtics’ coach, Doc Rivers musical chair tactics in maintaining a consistent lineup.

These two key weaknesses will of course be swept under the rug now that Kevin Garnett and company have dominated the Atlanta Hawks 99-65 and advanced to the second round to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. All and all this has been a surprisingly must watch series up to the bittersweet end as the physicality of the first six games boiled over into a flagrant 2 foul called on Marvin Williams for virtually clotheslining Rajon Rondo to the floor, a move that ignited a 28 pt Celtics lead and Williams’ ejection from the game. It’s clear that the Celtics were out to make a statement.

"Play hard, play defense, win at home."


Round 2 Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Monday, May 6th @ 8:00pm - The Garden, Boston MA

2 comments:

AnthoNorm6 said...

It took the Boston Celtics that long to beat the Atlanta Hawks...I would not just say me, but I will say other people except for the true Atlanta Hawks fans like my little brother and Jermaine Dupri always had faith in their team...It is never good to underestimate a team because they will shock you...The Hawks have a good nucleus around them led by Joe Johnson...The Hawks just need a good big man and they will be on their way...As for the Boston Celtics, they have major work to do..All of those flaws, they better get rid of it because they are facing a team that went to the NBA Finals and got sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in four games last year, which is the Eastern Conference Champs Cleveland Cavaliers, led by none other than LeBron "King" James....In order for the Celtics to be success in that series, their bench has to be better than the Cavs bench..That is how the Cavs beat the Pistons last year and went on to the NBA Finals...Good bench play, along with the Rondo handing the point really well will give the Celtics what they need to win that series in six games over the Cleveland Cavaliers....

Johnny K said...

Gotta give it up to the Hawks for playing there hearts out