Job No. 1 remains the same.
The Hawks need to be a strong in transition defense to have a chance in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Wizards. That was not the case in the opening game.
Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 54 points in a 114-107 victory Sunday afternoon. The Wizards scored 25 fastbreak points, in large part because of 21 Hawks turnovers.
That was the concern of the Hawks entering the series and it remained after the team watch video of the loss before a practice Monday.
“The thing that stood out the most was what we thought was most important coming into the series which is transition defense,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ve got to be better. It’s got to be the priority and the emphasis. There are lots of other areas where we can improve and get better but if we don’t get better there … that’s the priority.”
Budenholzer said the Hawks’ failures were a combination of breakdowns and effort.
“We have to cut a lot of their transition points,” Dwight Howard said. “That is the thing that really killed us. Their transition buckets. If we do that and contain John Wall and Bradley Beal we’ll have a good chance of winning. And we cut down our turnovers.”
The sky is not falling, the Hawks insisted, after a Game 1 loss. It’s the nature of the playoffs to put undue scrutiny on one in a seven-game series.
“That is the sky is falling is from people who are not in the series,” Howard said. “We can’t focus on what everybody is saying. It doesn’t matter. That’s why around this time, it’s best to turn your TVs off, it’s best to turn your phones off. Leave all the negativity away. We know it’s the first team to four. It’s a seven-game series for a reason. There is no need to panic. If we were down 3-0 then I could say we need to work on some stuff. I’ve been down 3-1 before and came back. It’s the first team to four wins. That’s how you always have to look at it.”
Schroder reaches out to Thomas
Dennis Schroder and Isaiah Thomas have had well-documented issues on the court in playoff and regular-season games the past two seasons. However, when the Celtics point guard lost his younger sister in a car accident on Saturday, the Hawks point guard was moved to reach out to his opponent.
Schroder posted his condolences on social media via Twitter Sunday night after Thomas played in the Celtics’ playoff series opening loss to the Bulls.
Schroder spoke of why he reached out on Monday.
“I watched the game and he was crying but he was playing and there for his teammates,” Schroder said. “I respected him. I just tried to help him out and show him some love. We had some stuff going on on the court but that was tough. That’s family. That’s past having beef on the court. I pray for him and his family.”
Chyna Thomas died in a single-car accident in their home state of Washington. Thomas is expected to play in Game 2.
No foul calls on Gortat
The NBA issued its Last Two Minutes report from Game 1 and reported two incorrect calls – both missed foul calls by Wizards center Marcin Gortat. The Hawks should have been awarded free throws in each case as they would have been in the bonus had the foul of Howard been called.
According to the report, Gortat should have been called for a foul on Howard with 1:33 remaining. The Wizards led 110-103 at the time. In addition, Gortat should have been called for a foul on Mike Muscala with 27.3 seconds left. The Wizards led 112-103 at the time. Those were the only missed calls in the report that found 11 correct non-calls and four correct calls.
The NBA reviews all games and issues a report on all games with five points at the two-minute mark or that go into overtime.