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.