Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Hawks need to put this series away - if that's possible

Did this look desperate enough for you? (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

I believe I speak for all Atlantans when I say: Enough of this. Go win Game 6 and be done with the Brooklyn Nets. Be done with them because this has become the scariest 38-win team since ... well, since the Atlanta Hawks of last season.

To invoke Nets coach Lionel Hollins' word, the No. 1 seed played "desperate" in Wednesday's Game 5, and he meant it in a good way. The Hawks started fast and led 33-16 after one quarter; they ditched their normal rotation and went with their starting five virtually the entire fourth quarter; they outshot and outrebounded the visitors ... and they needed every dollop of desperation to win.

The Nets are impossible to figure. Deron Williams scored 30 fewer points in Game 5 than in Game 4, and still his team was within a point inside the final two minutes. Sub Jarrett Jack had scored 12 consecutive points -- this after sub Alan Anderson had scored 19 points in the first half -- and Joe Johnson had hit two 3-pointers, and the Hawks were in real danger of falling behind in a series they figured to sweep.

But they didn't. They made five long jumpers over a span of five minutes and 17 seconds, and DeMarre Carroll kept a play alive by saving a rebound of Al Horford's fast-break miss and scoring off Paul Millsap's pass. Those six baskets kept the raging Nets at bay, and two drives by Jeff Teague sealed the biggest victory of this Hawks season.

Still, I think I speak for all Atlantans when I say: Don't let these Nets linger any longer. Put them to bed in Game 6. They're ornery enough to make the Hawks sweat out a Game 7, same as the No. 1 seed sweated out homecourt victories in Games 1, 2 and 5, and what would happen if those jumpers don't fall in an elimination game?

I have no problem with the way the Hawks played in Game 5. They made pretty jumpers and dashing hustle plays. They won 75 percent of the 50/50 balls. They outrebounded the Nets and outshot them and never let the underdog get ahead. That's the thing, though: The Nets are so loose they aren't acting like underdogs. They fall 17 points behind and they keep chugging, figuring somebody will get hot. They're acting like a real team, which means they're dangerous.

Credit the Hawks for winning Game 5. Credit the Nets for making this a series. But it's time for the No. 1 seed to end this and get on to the next bit of business, meaning Washington in Round 2. Surely those Wizards, resurgent though they seem, can't be any looser than these Nets.

From myajc: The jump-shooting Hawks win a massive Game 5.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.