The city of Atlanta can take a sigh of relief. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 96-91 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of 7 series. This wasn’t pretty, this wasn’t easy, but at the end of the night, the Hawks found a way to win. The Nets might be the underdog in the series, but that doesn’t mean the wins will come easy. Brooklyn stayed in the game until the final buzzer sounded, but the Hawks found a way to prevail. Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Al Horford, Demarre Carroll and Kent Bazemore made their defensive presence known, especially during the 4th quarter. Jarrett Jack, who is a role player for the Nets, turned the perception of the game around with his spectacular scoring. Jack had 23 points off the bench, and looked like he could win the game single-handedly at times.
The Hawks came out strong in the beginning of the game, but just like in Game 1, the Nets came right back on runs of their own. The top-seeded team in the East had the lead at half, 50-47, but Brooklyn took Atlanta down to the wire. In the last effort for the Nets, Joe Johnson drove down the lane, passed to Deron Williams, who missed a wide-open 15-foot jump shot that would have tied the game. Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore sank free throws to put the game out of reach.
Al Horford played the game after dislocating his finger in the 4th quarter of Game 1. Horford played a huge role in the Hawks win, contributing 14 points and 7 assists. Horford also killed the boards, unlike Game 1. He racked up 13 rebounds compared to his counterpart, Brook Lopez, who only had 7 rebounds. The Hawks as a team were still outrebounded by 8 in the game, but the difference was not nearly as noticeable as it was in Game 1. It is imperative that the key guys with injuries (Horford, Millsap) continue this kind of play throughout the playoffs if the Hawks want to keep advancing.
The series now moves its way up to Brooklyn, where the Hawks hope to continue their winning ways. Being on the road is a lot different then being at home. The wins will get tougher, the crowd will be against them, and Atlanta will have to find ways to grind out wins. Nothing comes easy in the NBA, especially the NBA playoffs. This is where you find out who the good teams are, and who the great teams are. Great teams find ways to get it done, no matter the circumstances surrounding them. Brooklyn has played Atlanta competitively the past two games, but Atlanta has fought back. With Millsap looking like his normal-self, look for him to play a key role in the Barclays Center.