The Hawks have held a double-digit lead in four of the five games of their playoff series with the Nets.
They do hold a 3-2 advantage going into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Friday in Brooklyn. However, the games have been much more interesting than many would have liked. A case in point is Wednesday’s 107-97 Game 5. The Hawks led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter and 12 points heading into the final period. Although they never lost the lead in the wire-to-wire win, the Nets pulled to within a point with under five minutes to play.
Remember the Hawks were 52-5 during the regular season when holding a lead of 10 or more points at any time during a game.
It begs the question. Why?
DeMarre Carroll offered this insight following the Game 5 win.
“We just talked about it,” Carroll told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Our biggest thing is when we get a big lead, like 12 in the fourth quarter, we feel like if we slow the ball down that is going to make us win the game. Which it’s not. We’ve got to keep playing fast. When we slow the ball down, that’s playing at their pace. It’s not playing at our pace. That’s the biggest thing for us.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said the Nets’ runs, particularly at the start of the second and fourth quarters, is an issue.
“We’ve got to come out of that timeout more focused,” he said. “We’ve got to be more committed to what we are doing defensively, more committed to moving the ball, share the ball, and I think we are aware of it. We’ve got to be better in those situations in Game 6.”