The Hawks and Nets met up in Atlanta for the first game of their best of seven series on Sunday Night. The Nets were able to linger around for all four quarters and kept the Hawk’s fans on the edge of their seats for the whole night. However, the Hawks were able to squeak out a 99-92 victory in Game One to keep their home-court advantage at Phillips Arena, where they were 35-6 throughout the regular season. Kyle Korver led the way for the Hawks with 21 points, while shooting 5/10 from three-point land. It was clear from the opening tip that Korver had the green light to shoot at will. Throughout the game, Nets defenders were scrambling trying to close out on Korver, only to turn around and watch the ball hit nothing but net. Jeff Teague and Demarre Carroll also each added 17 points and Dennis Schroder scored 13 points off the bench. For Brooklyn, Brook Lopez dominated down low, scoring 17 points on 6/7 shooting. He also killed the Hawks all night on the boards, racking up 14 total rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Joe Johnson also added 17 points for the Nets and contributed with his passing as well, racking up 6 assists. Thaddeus Young also contributed with a double-double of his own scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 boards.
The Hawks got off to a strong start, as they owned a 16 point lead early in the second quarter. Brooklyn was able to answer with a run of their own before halftime and the Hawks led 55-45 going into the locker room. Over the year, the Hawks have been one of the worst rebounding teams and that trend continued on Sunday. The Hawks were outrebounded 47-39 over the game and 12-6 on the offensive glass. Brooklyn came out firing and cut the lead to 3 right out of halftime, but like every other Brooklyn run, Atlanta came back with an answer. The Hawks went on an 8-0 run of their own to push the lead back to 65-54. Brooklyn had one final run in them when they cut the lead to 4 with about two minutes to play, but could not get any closer. The Hawks came up with a couple of big stops late and nailed their free throws to salt the game away.
Thoughts: The Hawks have to be relieved to get their first playoff win out of the way. There was a lot of pressure on this team and for most the night, they were able to deliver. However, there were some signs of concern during the game. The Hawks struggled mightily on the glass for most of the game. They allowed Brook Lopez, who is not a great rebounding center, to rack up 14 boards including six on the offensive glass. While they were able to cover their rebounding woes up and get the win, this could prove to be their kryptonite later in the playoffs. Also, Paul Millsap, who missed 5 out of the last six regular season games with a shoulder injury, struggled mightily. Millsap had only 6 points on 2/11 shooting and did just not look like himself. The Hawks need a healthy Millsap if they expect to make any kind of deep playoff run. It was also reported that Hawks Center Al Horford dislocated his pinky finger early in the fourth quarter. Horford exited the game and then returned a few minutes later. While his return was a good to see for the Hawks, Horford looked a little uncomfortable the rest of the game, so it will definitely be something to keep an eye on going forward.