They’re still mad.
A day after a dismal shooting performance in a playoff loss to the Nets on Saturday, anger could be heard in the Hawks’ voices and sensed in their expressions. They missed far too many open shots in Game 3 and it cost them a 91-83 loss in the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The Hawks feel they let one get away, one missed layup and one open jump shot at a time.
“I hated our game (Saturday) night,” Jeff Teague said. “I hated the way I played. I think the whole team hated the way we played. To get back on the floor and be able to touch the ball today and get back on the floor was good.”
The Hawks shot just 35.6 percent (32-of-90) in Game 3. According to the official game report, they missed 13 shots classified as layups. Other tips and put-backs also failed.
The solace is that the Hawks held the Nets to 38.6 percent (32-of-83) shooting, a statistic they feel was good enough to earn a win.
“It’s a pretty good mood,” said Paul Millsap of the team’s practice Sunday. “We didn’t play well (Saturday). We played good enough to win the game. When you know you missed a lot of layups, it can go two ways. It can get you down and depress you or you can be motivated by it. You know you could have won the game if you made a few more layups.”
In the words of coach Mike Budenholzer, you simply have to make shots. That notion had the Hawks’ attention ahead of Game 4 on Monday night with the Hawks holding a 2-1 series lead. Budenholzer appreciates his team’s anger at its most recent performance. He added he felt it was properly focused.
“It would be naïve not to give Brooklyn credit for playing well defensively,” Budenholzer said. “That makes it more important that when you do get a good look, a good opportunity, you’ve got to convert them at a better rate than we did (Saturday). I’m confident that our guys will do that.”
The team hasn’t made many adjustments during the series, according to Hawks coaches and players. The teams have met seven times this season alone, with the Hawks winning six games. Teague said the Nets switched some of their pick-and-roll coverages in Game 3. Kyle Korver said the Nets have made a priority of guarding the paint to “muck up the middle.”
That’s where the Hawks must run their offense, the one that led to 60 regular-season wins, and turn to second and third options when necessary.
“Everything comes down to making shots,” Korver said. “If we make a lot of those shot that we feel like we could have made, the defense loosens up. That is just what happens. You have to make some of the shots to get the defense to loosen up. We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to get to the second and third options. We also have to make our shots, as simple as that sounds.”
Several Hawks players said knew they knew this would be a tough series, even as they control the No.1 versus No. 8 matchup. They should know. It was just a season ago that the Hawks were the No. 8 seed and pushed the No. 1 seed Pacers to seven games in a first-round series.
With the Nets win, the series is assured to return to Atlanta for a Game 5 on Wednesday.
“That’s a good ball club,” Teague said of the Nets. “They have three All-Stars. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. They won a game at home, like they are supposed to. We are not worried or rattled. That’s a good team.”