1. Hello Starters? Where did you guys go?
The Atlanta Hawks starters are M.I.A. Where on earth did these guys go to? The playoffs are a different kind of atmosphere, and it looks like Atlanta’s starters have not adjusted. With the exception of Kyle Korver, every starter finished Game 3 with a minus player efficiency. These guys haven’t clicked most of the series, and Hawks fans are starting to get irritated. Atlanta now trails 2-1 in the best of seven series with the Washington Wizards. In my honest opinion, Coach Budenholzer’s team is the better team. I do not know if the starters can come out of the hole they have dug themselves into, which is a big problem. Without the bench play, this game is a miserable blowout. This isn’t the starting five that earned “Player of the Month” in January. All I have to say is if Atlanta wants to make any noise in the playoffs, these starters have to turn their play around as soon as possible.
2. Coach Bud, the Bench is our Secret Weapon!
I have been very high on Mike Budenholzer since his arrival in Atlanta. The elephant in the room is the lack of minutes the bench players have seen in the playoffs. The Hawks have always operated as a unit. Why are Dennis Schröder, Mike Scott, and Mike Muscala not playing more during this series? Hell, even Shelvin Mack ihas been effective in limited minutes. These bench players need their minutes extended if Atlanta wants to extend their playoff hopes. I’m sorry, but Pero Antic is not on Mike Muscala’s level of play. Antic has done well in the playoffs, and when he makes his threes, he is a solid bench player. However, when Antic misses shots, he loses his credibility as an offensive player and becomes a liability. Mike Scott has barely touched the floor this series with Washington, and that has to change. Scott came into Game 3 and shot 3/5 with eight points. His five shots were all open and smart shots. His player efficiency, when on the floor, was +15, so he must have been doing something right. Then you have back-up point guard, Dennis Schröder. The man showed he can show up in big time situations, especially during Game 3. He led an unbelievable comeback, only to watch Paul Pierce throw up a lucky game-winning shot. If the starters continue their lackluster play, Coach Budenholzer should put in his bench players and quit holding back.
3. It is Time to Face Adversity
Atlanta will play at Washington in Game 4 on Monday night. Atlanta is currently losing the series 2-1, and it’s the first time the Hawks have been viewed as the underdogs. I don’t like pinning certain games on teams, but Game 4 is a must win. Going down 3-1 and coming back is very hard for any NBA team, and the Hawks have to find a way to steal a game in the nation’s capital Monday night. Without John Wall, the Wizards are very beatable. Even with John Wall, the Hawks owned them in the regular season. This isn’t the regular season though, and Atlanta has reality staring them in the face. Will Atlanta succumb to the pressure or will they rise to the occasion?