By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
They Won’t Back Down
What appeared to be an easy cakewalk over the Bucks without their center Andrew Bogut is now the best of three with the first round playoff series tied at 2-2.
Milwaukee, down 0-2, brought their determination and fed off the energy of the home crowd in Games 3 and 4. And Atlanta forward Josh Smith changed their mood as they booed him every time he touched the ball in both games.
Last Friday, it was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Smith said that there was nothing to do in Milwaukee. His comment was taken to heart in Game 3 last Saturday, affecting his bottom line stats. Smith scored only seven points on 2 for 12 shooting and made 3 of 6 free-throws.
He rebounded with 20 points in Game 4.
“It’s all good,” Smith said before Game 3. “I’m ready for it. You’re in a playoff series to win. You’re not here to make friends. They’re gonna be yappin’ at you anyway. So why not make them do it to the 10th power?”
After the 107-89 beatdown by Milwaukee, Smith was brought back down to earth. “They had their day (Saturday),” he said. “I think we didn’t bring our own energy. We knew they were going to bring their energy.”
“They were at home for their first (playoff) game and we just didn’t bring it. I live in Atlanta, play for Atlanta, from Atlanta. I didn’t say anything about their fans.
I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson knew it would be premature to predict a sweep by winning two games on the road.
“Anytime you go out on the road and play playoff basketball, just being on the road is a concern,” he said. “We’ve only won one game in the last two years on the road, and it was a big one.”
“It was a big one to get out of that Miami series.”
The Hawks, down 2-1 to the Heat in the 2009 first round series, won 81-71 on April 27 to even it at two each. It was their first playoff road win at that time since winning at Chicago in May of 1997.
The Hawks won last year’s series, 4-3.
The sellout crowd of 18,717 at the Bradley Center carried their energy over from Game 3 to Game 4 Monday.
That momentum helped the Bucks defeat the Hawks 111-104, sending the series back to Atlanta on Wednesday for Game 5 and coming home Friday for Game 6.
“I feel like there’s no pressure on us,” Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings said after the game Monday.
“At the end of the day, everybody still expected us to lose the series.”
Woodson now must regroup his team and go back to the drawing board after they found out what hit them.
“It’s not like our team don’t understand and are not ready to accept the challenge,” he said. “I feel good about the position we’re in.”
“We just gotta go home and handle our business like we have all year.”
Something else hit them Monday morning after they left the Bradley Center following their shootaround.
The team bus was struck by a car with no brakes, causing front end damage to the car driven by a female. Woodson assisted the woman and her young child and arranged taxis for the traveling party to get back to the team hotel.
Maybe that’s a sign that the Hawks could actually lose the series to the Bucks.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Wednesday night at Phillips Arena, Milwaukee took a 3-2 lead in their playoff series with a 91-87 victory against Atlanta. Brandon Jennings paced the Bucks with 25 points.