- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
Hawks Showing Character Through Adversity
Posted By Lang Greene On April 28, 2013 @ 1:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
When the Indiana Pacers opened up a 2-0 series lead versus the Atlanta Hawks, not surprisingly, talks of a potential first round sweep began to surface in numerous circles. Most of the narrative about the trajectory of the series came to a common ground in a few areas; Indiana’s frontcourt was too big and physical for the smaller Hawks, Pacers All-Star forward Paul George had officially arrived and lastly some even began to question Hawks’ collective heart as a unit.
Those who follow the Hawks consistently, know the team has a penchant for pulling out strong wins when doubts around the franchise are circulating at its highest levels.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew told reporters following the club’s latest win that he fully expected and had no doubt his team would show its strength of character with their backs up against the wall.
“This team did something they’ve done all year long and that’s respond after two losses in Indiana,” Drew said in his postgame press conference. “We have some guys I thought played tremendously and one of them was Josh Smith. I thought his effort on Paul George really set the tone for the game.
“Our defense was the thing that really got us going. You could see it early with the energy. We were really helping one another and I thought we did a really good job on the glass, which in our first two games against this Indiana club they really pounded us on the glass. We responded tonight.”
It was the Hawks’ ability to contain George in game three which jumpstarted their success. After putting up elite numbers and averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the series’ first two games, the third year forward managed to produce just 16 points on 4 of 11 shooting from the floor while also being forced into five turnovers.
The Hawks also dug deep and closed the rebounding margin versus the physically larger Pacers.
Indiana dominated on the interior and outrebounded Atlanta 95-73 in the first two games of the series, but the Pacers were only +4 in the rebounding department on Saturday night.
Smith believes the series will get even more physical and vows the Hawks are ready and willing for the increased contact.
“It’s the playoffs,” Smith said about the games becoming more physical. “Adrenaline is flowing and emotions are running high. It’s going to get a little chippy, especially down low in the paint. The bigs for Indiana play a physical game and all we’re trying to do is match their physicality and trying to exceed it a little bit. It’s definitely physical. We’re ready for it and we’re not backing down from anything. It should be a really good series.”
The Pacers have now dropped 12 consecutive games at Philips Arena and Hawks center Al Horford said the team was fueled by its home crowd and an added sense of desperation entering the contest down 2-0.
“I think it has to do with the home crowd and desperation,” Horford said on the team’s improved performance in game three. “You are down 2-0 and you don’t try to think of it like that, but we knew what was at stake. We definitely came out and laid it all on the line and now we understand we have to regroup and get ready for [game four].
Despite their win, the Hawks are still viewed as big underdogs in the series. Drew says in a situation like this it’s important to take a simplistic one game at a time approach instead of worrying about the series as a whole.
“One thing you can’t do in a situation like this is look too far ahead,” Drew said. “The most important game for us was tonight and I wanted them to just focus on this game. We’re not going to think about how many games we need to catch Indiana or to win the series, that’s not important. The most important game tonight was tonight’s game.”
Game 4 is set for Monday night at Philips Arena.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/hawks-showing-character-through-adversity
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.