Millsap is Still Bothered by Shoulder
Millsap has given all he has had this series and for the most part he has still been pretty good. However, it is clear that the shoulder injury he sustained with 6 games left in the regular season is still bothering him. Several times in Game 5, Millsap was grabbing at his shoulder and looking quite uncomfortable. Millsap has still been able to contribute, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds in the series, but he is definitely not 100 percent. His scoring and shooting numbers are well below his season averages. For the Hawks to end this spectacular season with some bling, Millsap will have to get to 100%. A banged up Millsap and Horford might be able to squeak past the Nets, but it only gets tougher from here.
They Still Have Not Found “It”
If you have had the privilege to watch this team grow over the year, you would know that this series has been far from the best Hawks basketball we have seen this season. In Game 5, that trend continued. The Hawks got off to a quick 33-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and looked like the 60 win team that they are. However, it seemed that they sort of lost focus and let Brooklyn slowly creep back into the game. When the Hawks were on their 19-game winning streak and playing at their peak, they had an “it” factor. It was not a single player or thing. It was team. It did not matter who was on the floor, everybody trusted each other and the ball moved about as fast as yours eyes could keep up with it on the screen. There was no hesitation, no thinking, just free flowing basketball. It was that factor, not their individual talent that got NBA experts everywhere thinking this Hawks team is for real. However, somewhere between the extended rest and injuries, the Hawks lost this “it” factor. The Hawks look tentative and very vulnerable at the moment and have to get back into rhythm or it will be a much earlier exit than many Hawks fans were anticipating.
Home Sweet Home
In the series, the home team has won every game. The Hawks, over the years, have been a notoriously better team at home than on the road. This year’s Hawks team has been terrific at home. They were 35-6 over the regular season at home and seem to really feed off the energy in Phillips Arena. Ask any NBA player if the crowd helps down the stretch of the game. The answer you would get is a consensus YES. In Game 5, the crowd helped carry a struggling and hurting Hawks team to a huge win. On the contrary, the Nets were mediocre at best at home. They won the same amount of games at home as on the road this season (19). This year, Atlanta was not just a great home team, they were a great road team as well. Atlanta won 25 games on the road compared to only 16 losses. This included a 12 game road-winning streak. It is imperative the Hawks take care of business in Brooklyn and finish this series in 6.