After week on the road, Hawks eager to return home and bounce back

Hawks players (from left) Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams stand during the National Anthem on Friday, June 25, 2021, in Milwaukee.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks players (from left) Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams stand during the National Anthem on Friday, June 25, 2021, in Milwaukee. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

When the No. 5-seed Hawks traveled to Philadelphia for Game 7 on June 20, they didn’t just pack for the final matchup of the second round.

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They brought everything they would need if they advanced and had to play another two road games in a row – good thing, too, as they edged No. 1-seed Philadelphia and immediately went to Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference finals.

So, the Hawks have been away from home for about a week. They certainly looked road-weary in their blowout loss to the No. 3-seed Bucks in Game 2 on Friday.

“We haven’t really had a chance to experience any of that energy that is still building from Atlanta after us moving on from last series and coming here,” power forward John Collins said. “We’re excited to get back home, in our own bed, and try to regroup.”

As bad as that loss was (and it was genuinely ugly, giving up a 20-0 run in the second quarter, trailing by 40 entering the fourth, with zero starters on the floor at that point), the Hawks still come back home to Atlanta 1-1 in the series. All things considered, as decided underdogs all the way through this playoff run, the Hawks will take those results. And they get the chance to regroup on their own turf.

Game 3 will come at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in a sold-out State Farm Arena, and Game 4 will come at home again, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Hawks have followed a similar pattern throughout the playoffs of stealing Game 1 on the road before losing Game 2. They’ve returned home 1-1 every time, first against the Knicks in the first round, then against the 76ers in the second round, and now against the Bucks in the conference finals.

“It’s really been an emotional week, and to come out of this road trip .500 is good,” Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ll take that. We had an opportunity to get two; it didn’t happen. We go home, where we’ve had success. We’ll be able to sleep in our own beds and basically put this behind us, refocus and get ourselves ready for Game 3 on Sunday.”

“… We were able to put ourselves in position to win two, but it didn’t happen (Friday). Just as we have been talking about all season long, you can’t get too high when you win, and you can’t get too low when you drop a game. The thing we’ll do is clean up some things (Saturday) and get ourselves ready for Sunday.”

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Hawks guards Trae Young (left) and Bogdan Bogdanovic confer as Bogdanovic reenters the game. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Hawks guards Trae Young (left) and Bogdan Bogdanovic confer as Bogdanovic reenters the game.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks guards Trae Young (left) and Bogdan Bogdanovic confer as Bogdanovic reenters the game. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Although the Hawks have been in this position before, this was by far the worst playoff loss they’ve suffered, so they’ll need to bounce back in a big way.

“I’d say it’s comforting in a weird way to know that we’ve been through this situation twice now,” Collins said. “Hopefully we can continue to capitalize as we’ve done, splitting this. But it’s nice to just have a little bit of struggle and toughness under our belt from the previous series. As I said, we’re going to need that to finish out the series.”

Finally, the Hawks get to come home, and it comes at a good time.

“It’s exciting to be able to go back home,” Trae Young said. “We wanted to steal one on the road; we did that. So now to go home, play in front of our fans in the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a lot of people there, it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to just going out there, having fun and playing in front of all our Atlanta fans … just understanding we get to go home where we’ve got a chance to bounce back. All we hope for is a chance to bounce back, and we get one. We’ve just got to be ready.”