I should really name this post "How you can talk yourself into not giving up on the Hawks", or "Despite the draft, it's not time for football yet."
So Saturday's game was horrific to the point that I had to turn away. I kept coming back only change channels when the score came up. After the tough loss in Game 2 and the slaughter in Game 3, it would be easy to shovel the dirt on the Hawks. But here's the optimistic points to keep telling yourself tonight.
The Heat cannot keep shooting this well. Before Game 2 I said that they could not keep shooting that poorly, and man was I ever right. Now I'm going to tell you that they cannot continue to keep shooting this well. For the season they shot 35.7% for 3-point range. In the last two games they have shot 57.7% and 52.2% respectively, despite most of the shots being contested. If they average 20 3-pointers a game, then they are hitting an extra 4 3s a game. I've heard of players turning it on for the playoffs, but teams? Not likely. Wade will get his, we just have to keep the defensive rotations crisp on all the role players and the percentages will come down... I just hope it is tonight.
The Heat will not get 12 blocks again. Good Lord did they come out like gangbusters on defense. Wade will ensure they come out with intensity and hustle tonight as well, but if we can respond to some of their punches early (instead of missing 17 of our first 19 shots), then that should take some of the wind out of their sails.
I would say that the Hawks will use less of the one-on-one offense, but they've done it all year, so why would Woody stop now?
So my prediction is that the Hawks will actually be in Game 4. They had a players only team meeting on Sunday (I take heart in this because I don't think Woody can do a lick of good), and they have the history of coming back from an 0-2 deficit last year against a better team than the Heat.
Unfortunately I think they will lose. They have not won a road playoff game in over a decade, and considering the effort they put forth in Game 3, I don't see that changing. They simply do not have the leadership to drag the team through a road playoff game. This is evidenced by a 16-25 road record during the regular season. To pull out a road playoff game you need a performance like Wade gave the Heat in Game 2. A "screw this, we are not losing" performance. And I just don't see anyone on the Hawks roster who can deliver that. Joe has only ever done it at home.
Hawks 90, Heat 98