I can’t start out praising Indiana since, frankly, they weren’t exactly stellar in this series. Just because they won Game 6 81-73, and took the series doesn’t mean they played well. I’ll get to them later, but first, we gotta talk about Atlanta. The Hawks aka, Team Ambien, played a lackluster Game 6 and the truth of the matter, nobody is the least bit shocked. Since their resurgence six years ago from basement dweller to playoff contender, they’ve perfected a formula of “almost but not quite good enough.” They play a relaxed style, devoid of urgency or high-stakes. For the last several years, they’ve fielded solid, if not weirdly built teams, and each time slid into the postseason with zero buzz. They also slid out of the postseason with zero buzz.
The Hawks fans have no best-case scenario discussions because the fan base is as uninspired as it gets. There are few believers in the team, and even those few, I think, just do it as some kind of non-conformist stance. Outsiders will tell you from experience, that if you go to a Hawks home game at Phillips Arena, fans of the road team often are louder than Hawks fans. We side-eye them about it and say they are fake, lackluster supporters, but watching tonight’s game explained it in very specific terms.
After getting embarrassed in the first two games of their 1st round match up with Indiana, they bounced back to tie at 2-2, and then commenced to go out with ease in Games 5 and 6. They set a franchise record by scoring nine points in the 2nd quarter of Game 6 and had a nearly 16 game minute run where they went 1-22 from the field. Yes this happened in a professional playoff game. Yet, they somehow closed the gap and cut the lead to 3 in the 4th quarter before Indy put them away for good.
Regardless of how the game ended, this was a gutless display by a team that rarely excites to begin with. Hawks fans, tortured with generations of ineptitude, knew the writing was on the wall even before it was written. Most of the game they were listless and the arena’s empty seats only underlined their futile title aspirations. I’ll say this though, nobody can criticize these fans again. I get why they don’t show up, can’t blame them at all. Who wants to waste money on these jokers.
As for Indiana, this should have been a sweep. The Hawks shouldn’t have been in the series with them from to begin with. For a team with a rep as a bunch of no games being played, serious dudes, they played silly-ball for large chunks of this series. Between Paul George and David West (and to a lesser, but still relevant extent, Lance Stephenson) they had most of the best players in the series. Yet, they didn’t always play like it. I would say, that they have to play better if they are serious about getting to the Conference Finals, but they are going against a Knicks team with the same pressure. Game 1 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden, should be fun.