Game Thread: Little plays make all the difference

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CLEVELAND – Hawks players and coaches have focused on several plays of their loss to the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals that dropped them in a 3-0 hole.

One in particular stands out.

With the Hawks leading by two points with 39.9 seconds left in overtime, Cavaliers star LeBron James missed a 12-foot fade away jump shot. The offensive rebound was gobbled up by Tristan Thompson. The forward kicked the ball back to James, who hit a corner 3-pointer that gave the Cavaliers the lead for good in the 114-111 victory.

On several occasions in the series, the Hawks have fouled the poor free-throw shooting Thompson on purpose.

“When you are out there things are happening so fast,” Kent Bazemore said Tuesday morning. “LeBron is a great player but he hasn’t been shooting the 3-ball that well. As he was shooting it, we thought we might have a chance. Big-time players make big-time plays. That’s what he did. Like I said, there are a lot of things we can learn from. Wrapping (Thompson) up would have saved us a lot of headaches.”

Therein might be the lessons the Hawks are learning in this postseason. The small plays, the right plays, could mean the difference between winning and losing or moving on and going home. Those decisions have to be made in the heat of battle.

“It’s something we discuss and consider,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said when asked if fouling Thompson was an option. “In the heat of the moment you have to be quick to react and know that’s what you are going to do. It’s something we consider. We are always learning and growing and if we are going to do something like that that we are on top of it. I think just keeping him off the board is where it starts and when he does get a rebound will we consider fouling him.”

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