Hawks fall to Cavs, down 2-0 in conference finals

Curtis Compton/AJC

The Hawks have been battle tested in the playoffs. After being tied two games against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, they were able to get a big win at home in Game 5, and then they blew them out in Game 6.

It was the same story in the second round as they were down 2-1 against the Washington Wizards. But the Hawks bounced back to win three straight to clinch the series.

The Hawks are once again in a hole as they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals 94-82, and they are now down 2-0 in the series.

“Give them credit; they’ve played well,” Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said talking about the Cavs. “Our challenge now is to go to Cleveland and play better.”

If there is one reason the Hawks were not able to tie the series on Friday night is they did not (and really have not played the entire postseason) play the brand of basketball they did in January. They averaged 25 assists a game in the regular season, but they only notched 15 on Friday night, and 12 of the assists came in the first half.

“I did fell like the ball was sticking,” Al Horford said. “Credit to them and their defense. We got away a little bit from playing Hawks basketball.”

Despite the Cavs not having Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, LeBron James was able to do facilitate the offense. James ended the night with 30 points nine rebounds and 11 assists.

James did have an edge because DeMarre Carroll, who injured his knee in Game 1, was guarding James the majority of the game, and he attacked Carroll anytime he could.

“It’s always difficult to guard LeBron,” Carroll said. “He knew I was injured, so he came at me full force. I would have done the same if he was injured.”

James was not the only one getting involved for the Cavs when it came to the offense. Iman Shumpert was able to score 16 points and go 4-of-6 from the three-point line. James Jones scored nine points off the bench, and he was 3-for-5 beyond the arc. The Cavs shot 40 percent from three and 43 percent from the floor.

The Hawks, on the other hand did not get any great offensive production from any of the starters. In fact, Dennis Schroder was the leading scorer with 13 points off the bench. Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver (who left the game in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury) and Al Horford each scored 12 points, but half of their points, it not all came in the first half. Paul Milsap was even more nonexistent as he scored only four points and was 2-of-8 from the field.

The reality is the Hawks have to play better all around if they want to get back in the series. Even though they are disappointed with the outcome of the first two games, they feel like they can do some big things when they play the Cavs at Cleveland on Sunday and Tuesday.

“We’ve been through a lot of obstacles this year, especially in these playoffs,” Carroll said. To be down 0-2, we take it as the first of four. Nobody is in the locker room hanging their head. We haven’t played Hawks basketball.”

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