And just like that, the Atlanta Hawks turned right back into that other Atlanta basketball team. The savvy veteran Miami Heat were just sitting there and took advantage.
Moments after the Hawks looked like they were cruising to a convincing double-digit lead over the Heat, Atlanta forgot just about everything that got them to that point. They started committing stupid fouls. They stopped moving around the paint. They stopped hustling for rebounds. They took stupid shots.
Miami is too good when you play like that. They quickly took advantage, turning a 13-point deficit to a 35-34 lead at the break.
Teams that want to win basketball games do not settle for jump shots with no one underneath the basket. They attack the paint and are dictate the pace of the game. While the Hawks were content to take (and miss) all but one of their 10 shots from behind the 3-point line in the first half, Miami got aggressive.
The Heat drove the lane, drew contact and went to the line 16 times in the first half. The Hawks? Well, they just stood back, took bad shots and waited, going to the line just three times. Not many basketball teams will win games with that type of free throw disparity. Even fewer will beat the Heat -- no matter how poorly they're shooting from the field.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James lead the Heat with 11 each despite shooting a combined 6-for-20 from the field. They both are 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Joe Johnson has nine for Atlanta, which is shooting 36-percent (16-for-44) from the field.