A lot went wrong, but the Hawks kept the game close. I have never been one to criticize officiating, but the refs definitely favored the home team straight out of the gate. I counted at least ten missed calls in the game’s opening quarter. John Wall also had the best playoff game of his career. This makes sense, as he has really refined his game this year, but the Hawks can do a better job containing him. They are not going to luck out and win this series due to a John Wall injury this time, though. Whether it means getting Thabo Sefolosha minutes or putting Kent Bazemore on John Wall, they have to find a solution to keep him in check. Outside of the Wizards’ big three of Wall, Beal, and Porter, their supporting cast is lackluster. Scott Brooks is also an average coach. This really shows just how good these three have been this year. But if the Hawks can contain Wall to a certain extent, their depth should prevail.
A lot of the time, you see an underdog really fight in the first game of an NBA series, only to lose steam and let greater talent prevail later in the series. This was not the case with the Hawks. They looked terrible, but they kept the game close on the road. Washington is still the favorite, but the Hawks are not the afterthought that many consider them to be.
The Hawks need Tim Hardaway Jr.s’ A-Game to win this series. THJ showed his explosiveness with his posterizing dunk, but struggled shooting from the field. Hardaway Jr. is the best off-the-dribble scorer the Hawks have, and him putting the ball in the hoop is essential to the team’s success. If he can play like he did in prime-time nationally televised games in the playoffs, the Hawks can be dangerous.
The Hawks also need playoff Dwight to awaken. Howard is remembered for taking the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals, and was a big part of the Houston Rockets playoff run a few seasons ago. It is hard to criticize a guy who had 14 rebounds in Game 1, but he has to have some type of offensive presence inside if the Hawks want a shot at making a playoff run.