After game 2, the atmosphere around the Hawks seemed to real of disappointment and outmatched. But Paul Millsap made a statement that seemed crazy and unsettling at the moment, but found out to be the truth. After game 2 defeat 109-101 he stated, “They have home-court advantage.” “They played off of that. To us, it’s 0-0. We are going back to Atlanta. We are still confident.”
Games three and four the Hawks seemed more energized and in sync than ever, could be due to home cookin’ but in game three they never trailed, dominating all facets of the game.
Motivation could also be coming from the two power forwards, Markieff Morris and Paul Millsap exchanging words on and off the court. Morris called Millsap a “crybaby” following the game three loss. He told reporters, “He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”
Millsap was asked about his thoughts on Morris’s comments, he took a glance at Dennis Schroder and cracked a smile and then calmly stated “It definitely got personal now, yes,” Millsap said. “I don’t care. So what. Take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”
Game four had its ups and downs with the starting young point guard Dennis Schroder picking up three early first quarter fouls, being replaced by Jose Calderon. Calderon led the Hawks’ comeback from a nine-point deficit with a 31-15 second-quarter rally. The Hawks took the lead in the period and never trailed again despite several ties. In the second quarter, Calderon played 10:58 and had eight points, four assists and was a plus-22. For the game, he played 20:01 and finished with 10 points and five assists and was a plus-29.
Calderon post game, “I feel comfortable with my teammates,” Calderon said. “As a point guard, it’s all about staying ready. We’ve been working hard for these kinds of fouls. I got three fouls quick too and coach kept me in the game. He could have picked somebody else. He trusted I could stay in with those three fouls. Whatever it takes.”
Paul Millsap on Jose’s underrated leadership, “Jose gives us an edge,”, “He’s got a little spice to him. When he brings that intensity from a veteran position, he knows how to play basketball the right way.”
Coach Budenholzer post game chimed in on Calderon’s impact since becoming a Hawk, “We feel fortunate that Jose considered us and chose us,” Budenholzer said. “Sports are like that. You have to be a little bit lucky whether it’s in a game or picking up a veteran like Jose.”
Both Howard and Bazemore played big roles in the Hawks’ 111-101 victory Monday with their best games of the series. Howard. They provided much needed defensive presence, Howard with a block and double digit rebounds, and Kent with three steals and defending two of the league’s best perimeter players in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Howard had a double-double, with 16 points and 15 rebounds. “Obviously, it was his best game,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We needed that extra boost. He certainly brought it. I thought is defense, his activity on the boards, his second- and third-efforts getting rebounds. We need more of that every night, every possession. When he’s like that, I think it can help carry his teammates and move us forward.”
The two showed amazing timing and chemistry on back to back alley-oops. Bazemore stated post-game, “It’s definitely an adjustment,” Bazemore said of the chemistry between the two. “To have the trust to throw it so high, the pass is above the backboard, and you recognize that there is only one person who is going to get up there and he’s on your team. It’s all about trust. … You let it go and you are like ‘There is no way he’s getting it.” And he gets it with two hands and throws it home. It comes with time and I think I’m onto something.”
Bazemore had 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
Three keys to coming back home up 3-2:
Defending the pick and roll:
John wall is maybe the explosive, hardest to guard in the pick and roll because he’s so quick. besides the fact of wanting to get a mismatch, he is very unselfish and wants to get his teammates involved. The key in a game five victory relies on containing the pick and roll not having any occasional lapses.
Taking smart shots:
Being on the road in a hostile environment can give the home team a pivotal boost. If the Hawks move the ball around and take good shots this will lower the amount of transition opportunities for the home team. Once wall is in transition and has a head of steam it is nearly impossible to guard unless you intentional foul. John wall going downhill will cause tons of problems and can lead to a long night.
Coming out with energy:
I know it seems obvious but coming out with energy can boost your confidence. The only difference in the first two games compared to the last two is energy and tenacity. Means grabbing lose 50/50 balls, rebounding, and attacking the defense from the tip. If the Hawks bring the intensity they’ve shown these last two games, they will return home to close out the Wizards and advance.
The Hawks and Wizards will be the first game of a TNT double-header to be followed by Game 5 of the Bulls-Celtics series at 8:30 p.m.