Things were looking good for the Atlanta Hawks as they were enjoying an 11 point lead with the third quarter winding down in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Celtics. Boston looked like they were hanging on by a thread and all it was going to take from the Hawks was one more push to send them to the showers early. However, that push would never come.
Atlanta led 65-54 with 3:08 remaining before the Celtics closed the quarter with a 7-1 run. With the lead down to 66-61, Larry Drew elected to go with a lineup of Kirk Hinrich and Willie Green at the guards, Marvin Williams and Josh Smith at the forwards with Ivan Johnson in the middle. At the 11:13 mark Josh Smith was replaced by Tracy McGrady and Jason Collins soon followed to take Ivan Johnson's place. Neither substitution did much to help the Hawks offensively nor turn back the Celtics momentum.
Larry Drew was extremely careful with the Hawks minutes during the season and the reasoning for that seemed to be so that his team could be fresh in the playoffs. Yet through two games, Drew has relied on his second unit like it was still in the regular season. Typically playing rotations shorten as the playoffs arrive. Drew didn't shorten it up some from Game 1 but having the reserves on the floor against Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is not a winning strategy.
Its true that the Hawks other problems in Game 2. They lost the rebounding battle and their offense cease to exist in the fourth quarter leaving them with a series of isolations that aren't going to be successful against at team like the Celtics. However, the Hawks are a momentum team. When they have the momentum typically their ball movement goes up and they find room to operate. In Game 2 that momentum vanished at the end of the third quarter and they did nothing to get it back when they took the floor in the fourth.
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