Hawks/Bucks Game 1 Recap
A tale of two halves.
by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
The Hawks knew the Bucks had played through adversity all season. But nobody in the Hawks locker room was underestimating a resilient Milwaukee team.
Josh Smith said, “We’re not worried about who they have on the court. We’re gonna play the same way as if we was playing the Cleveland Cavaliers so we gotta to be ready for all obstacles tonight.” Smith spoke about trying to get easy baskets while also cracking down defensively by boxing out under the basket.
Jamal Crawford, making his Playoff debut in his tenth NBA season, said, “I think this morning when I woke up was the first time it really hit me…tonight I’ll really feel it, but I just couldn’t believe it.”
His strategy for the game was to treat it like any other. “I’m honestly gonna try and look at it like it’s just game number 59…as far as playing I just want to look at it like any other game,” he said.
Even with the absence of defensive anchor Andrew Bogut, Hawks coach Mike Woodson believes the Bucks will contend. He mentioned how the team’s defense prevented the Hawks from running in previous matchups. And depleted is a word you will not hear him use to describe the Bucks. “My whole thing is they’ve played well enough to put themselves in the position they’re in…we can not take any team lightly in this league cause on any given night if you don’t come committed for 48 minutes, you can be beaten.”
*There was a white-out at Philips Arena and the Hawks came out red hot. The momentum began when Josh Smith threw a full-court pass to Al Horford for an easy dunk. Marvin Williams made a driving layup before Horford got another slam. After Mike Bibby followed his steal with a corner three, Scott Skiles called a timeout with the Bucks down 15-6.
*At 4:30, Crawford checked into the game to a loud applause. “I got goosebumps as soon we were on the court and saw everybody waving the white towels. It was just an amazing, amazing feeling,” he said. Crawford would finish the quarter with 3 points on 1-3 shooting.
*The one good sign for the Bucks was rookie Brandon Jennings. When asked how his first professional year in Italy prepared him for a situation like the Playoffs, Jennings said, “It was a season where I had to mature and also grow up so I think just by not playing, that’s helped me out a lot this year.” Apparently, Jennings was a good observer because he looked more like a vet than a rookie on the court. His teammates also seemed comfortable putting the ball in his hands. Jennings said the trust of his teammates means a lot. “I think because I came in here and I’ve shown that I’m capable of handling everything that comes with [being a point guard]. I think that’s where the trust comes from,” he said.
Jennings said he would let the game dictate whether he’d look for his shot early. It quickly became apparent he’d need to be aggressive for the Bucks to have a chance. Jennings finished the quarter with 7 points on 3-7 shooting, while the rest of the team scored 10 points on 4-14 field goals.
*The Hawks ended the quarter with a 34-17 lead and shot 65 percent from the field with 7 assists and no turnovers.
*Ersan Ilyasova hit the Bucks’ first two baskets before Crawford answered with a three. Jennings then beat the entire Hawks team down the court to create an easy fastbreak layup. It wasn’t the only time Jennings would score by outrunning everyone on the court.
*Mike Bibby started to shoot like he couldn’t miss. And he didn’t. He went 3-3 in the quarter and would finish the half with 10 points on 4-4 shooting including 2-2 from beyond the arc.
*Joe Johnson began to heat up with 8 points on 3-7 shooting, while Jamal Crawford made two threes to give him 6 points in the quarter.
*The Hawks finished the first half with up 22. They shot 62 percent and outscored the Bucks 34-14 in the paint and 9-2 on fastbreak points. The team got it done on the defensive end as well with 6 blocked shots and 7 Bucks turnovers. The Bucks shot 38 percent, including 2-10 three point field goals. Jennings had 20 of his team’s 40 points, while the Hawks had four players in double figures.
*The momentum would swing in the third quarter as the Bucks outscored the Hawks 30-19. The Bucks started driving to the basket, while the Hawks began to settle for outside jumpers.
*For the Hawks, Johnson went 2-6 from the field to finish with 4 points, while Crawford missed all four of his attempts to finish with 3 points off free throws.
*John Salmons came alive for the Bucks and scored 12 points on 4-8 shooting, while Jennings hit 5 of his 6 attempts, including 2 threes. The Bucks shot 63 percent in the quarter and outscored the Hawks 16-8 in the paint.
*The Bucks cut the lead to seven, but the Hawks managed to salvage some momentum with a Bibby three and Pachulia block. They finished the quarter up 11.
*The Hawks did a better job getting stops in the fourth quarter. Jennings cooled off, going 1-5, while the Bucks shot 43 percent.
*Johnson found his shot again and went 3-4 from the field. Bibby made 2 of 3 shots to give him his only miss of the night.
*Despite being outscored by 12 in the second half, the Hawks came away with a 102-92 win. They were the better team on both ends of the court, shooting 54 percent for the night, recording 11 blocks, and exploiting the mismatches Smith and Horford created in the frontcourt.
*On the difference between the first and second half, Johnson said that in the beginning, the team was hitting on all cylinders with good ball movement and easy baskets. “I just thought in the second half, we relaxed a little bit, which came back to bite us. And you know, that’s not like us, on the biggest stage of basketball right now, once you get a team down, you got to keep them down…for 48 minutes, we gotta fight hard regardless of how many points we’re up,” he said.
*Jennings finished the night with 34 points, the third most for a career playoff debut in the last 30 years. “You know [Brandon is] so quick and when he gets in the paint he makes plays not only for himself but for his teammates. I just try to keep a hand in his face, try to stay in front of him as much as possible,” said Johnson.
*The Hawks are confident going into Game 2. Crawford said the team will watch film to improve and “see what we can do to capture the first half magic we had.” Knowing the Bucks are going to come out hungry for a win, Crawford said, “It’s gonna be tough but we honestly feel like we can’t lose at home. No matter what’s against us, we feel like our home court is our advantage.” Since this win marks the Hawks’ 14th straight at home, it looks like he’s right.