NEW YORK - The series took longer than expected but the Hawks finally put away the Brooklyn Nets Friday night with a 111-87 win at Barclays Center, closing out their first-round series four wins to two. The Hawks showed more in this win than in any of the previous three. In fact, this probably was their best performance in several weeks.
For a link to the game column on MyAJC.com, click here. Here are my three "short takes" on the game.
1. It starts with Jeff Teague: He didn't score a point, going 0-for-5 from the floor. It was his first scoreless game since a playoff game against Orlando in April of 2011 (when he played only 1 minute, 43 seconds). But coach Mike Budenholzer and teammate Kyle Korver were among those to single him out for praise for the way he controlled the game with his defense (two steals; Brooklyn's Deron Williams was limited to 13 points), ball-handling (only one turnover) and passing (13 assists). When Teague plays like this, the Hawks are a very difficult team to beat. It should be a fun match-up of point guards in the next round between Teague and Washington's John Wall.
2. Millsap: Shoulder, what shoulder? When I asked Hawks forward Paul Millsap before Friday's game how his shoulder was, he said, "It's fine, you know," and he smiled. I laughed and responded, "I'm not even sure why I asked you," given athletes are never going to be completely honest. But Millsap had his best game since returning from a bruised and sprained shoulder, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals. If he is ailing, he didn't play like it.
3. DeMarre Carroll: MVP? It's no coincidence the Hawks' only bad quarter (second) came when Carroll was sitting on the bench with three fouls. He was the team's most consistent player in the series and he finished with 20 points (7 of 8 shooting) and five rebounds. Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins, who coached Carroll in Memphis, called the small forward, "The MVP of the series." Carroll appreciated the designation from his former coach but deflected credit. One thing is certain: Carroll, who has had a career season and will be an unrestricted free agent, is going to get some major contract offers in the offseason and it's going to be difficult for the Hawks to keep him.