Playing with the same poise and perseverance that carried them through the regular season the Atlanta Hawks notched a 102-92 win at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Many people have questioned the Hawks’ legitimacy as playoff contenders, but any uncertainties were put to rest in the first half when Atlanta came out firing and went into halftime with a commanding 62-40 lead over the visiting Bucks.
Joe Johnson led the steady Hawks attack with 22 points as well as notching 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Josh Smith contributed a 12 point 10 rebound effort while pacing the Hawks on defense with four blocks and on offense with his usual intensity and rim-rattling dunks. The real story of the night was the rebirth of Mike Bibby as a staple of the Hawks’ offense. Missing only one shot all game long, Bibby shot eight for nine from the field including three for three from behind the arc to end up with 19 points. In his first career playoff game, Jamal Crawford once again established himself as THE Sixth Man of the Year, coming off the bench to score 17 as well as helping contain Milwaukee’s dynamic duo of Brandon Jennings and John Salmons.
The Bucks put up a fight in the second half, outscoring the Hawks 52-40 but it was simply not enough as Jennings’ 34 point effort was wasted in the series opener. Expect the same intensity and sense of urgency from the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, as they look to extend their home winning streak to 14 games and secure a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Bogut-less Bucks.
Coming later, the first no-hitter of the season and first in franchise history for the Rockies in Atlanta. Also, a look into the first day of the NBA Playoffs and what to expect tomorrow.
This Sunday, Atlanta was faced with an arduous task, slowing down the Blazers and star shooting guard Brandon Roy. Roy put on a show scoring 29 points, dishing out five dimes and capping that off his spectacular performance four boards. But I guess Roy hasn’t heard the saying “Anything you can do I can do better,” because Joe Johnson went off on the Blazers. For the fourth straight game, Joe scored more than 30 points, with a grand total of 35 before going to the bench to allow the bench players some playing time. He also added an impressive seven boards and six assists to his scoresheet, showing that he is a versatile, all-around team player that is a force to be reckoned with on the court. Three other Hawks scored in double figures, led by Josh Smith with 19 points and 8 boards. Al Horford contributed 13 points and 5 boards while Mike Bibby was making himself useful at the point-guard position with 5 assists, also scoring 15 and grabbing 4 rebounds. This was an all-around great win for the Hawks, making it five in a row, all on their home-court. They were able to send their reserves in with time still left in the game, ending the game with a final score of 98-70. Blowing out Portland is great, but the Hawks need to keep on their guard for Sacramento. Although Sacramento has the worst record in the NBA, they are a dynamic team that can unexpectedly bring their A-game on any given day. Let’s hope that the Hawks will bring their A-game on Tuesday in Atlanta against the Kings to extend the winning streak to six games.