Down 0-2 in the series, game three was an absolute must win for the Hawks. On their home court with the crowd behind them, there was no excuse for the team not to play at their best, and that’s exactly what they did. The Hawks led the entire 48 minutes, much of it being up by 15 or even 20 points. It was an all-around complete performance with every player making some type of contribution.
Paul Millsap stepped up to the challenge in game three and finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds. His matchup against Markieff Morris has quickly gotten personal off the court, but on the court is is simply no competition. Millsap showed why he is a four time all star by dominating the Wizards backcourt. The story of the series has been the great play of the Wall-Beal duo who were scoring over 56 points per game in the first two matchups. In game three they combined for 41, making it very difficult for them to keep up with the Hawks. Atlanta’s starters dominated the Wizards starters as the lowest +/- was Schroder with +18 while the highest was Dwight Howard with +24. Dennis Schroder was the second highest scorer on the Hawks with 27 points, he also had nine assists. Dennis Schroder does not get nearly enough credit for what he has done this season and this post-season. In his first year starting there were some who thought he couldn’t lead a team to the playoffs. He did that, shakily at times, but has been in the zone since the playoffs started. He is averaging 25 points per game in the series, tied with Paul Millsap for the most on the team. The 24 year old German is well on his way to being a premiere point guard, and this playoff experience will be a huge factor in his growth.
Source: Soaring Down South
A few other players had notable performances. Taurean Prince scored 16 points on 7-10 shooting as he continues to blow away the expectations people had for him. Another rookie, Malcolm Delaney, only played three minutes in the entire game, all of those coming in garbage time at the end of the 4th quarter. He did not waste his chance however, scoring eight points in his limited court time. Lastly, Dwight Howard had a very quiet night. He scored just five points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Even though his box score is not impressive, he made a great impact on the court. The Hawks outscored the Wizards by twenty four with Howard on the floor, the best +/- on the team.
If the Hawks lost this game the series would be virtually over, but as we’ve seen this season, this team never gives up. And with this win, the momentum has shifted greatly between the teams. When Markieff Morris dejectedly called Paul Millsap a cry baby and Millsap simply laughed it off, it became apparent which team feels like they will win the series, and it’s the team that’s down 2-1.
featured image: USA Today