Right from tip-off at the Barclays Center on Friday, it was clear that the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks came to play and were hell-bent on not allowing the series to go to a Game 7. Even with DeMarre Carroll getting into foul trouble early in the second quarter, the Hawks were pretty much able to maintain the lead wire-to-wire. The 111-87 victory by Atlanta was the largest margin of victory in the series.
Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks, putting together his best effort of the playoffs by putting up 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Alongside Millsap, the usual suspects chipped in on offense. Carroll still managed to put up 20 points despite playing under 24 minutes thanks to the fact that he only missed one field goal attempt the entire game, finishing 7-of-8. Kyle Korver on the other hand did pretty much all of his damage from behind the three-point line, sinking 6-of-10 attempts and adding in a pair of free throws.
One player that perhaps didn’t play so well, at least in terms of putting points on the scoreboard, was point guard Jeff Teague. Teague failed to hit a shot the entire game but did come up with 13 assists, displaying quickness and creativity in finding his teammates throughout the game. In fairness, he only saw 23 minutes on the floor and was rested for much of the contest given that the Hawks had such a big lead.
On the other side of the floor, the Nets did put up quite a fight in the series, but in Game 6 it was clear just how much the team lacked in terms of being able to make it to the next level in the playoffs. Other than Brook Lopez leading the team in scoring with 19 points and seven rebounds, no other player managed more than 13 points and only point guard Jarrett Jack had more than five rebounds.
While the Nets did manage to keep their deficit to single digits going into halftime, the Hawks pulled away in the second half. Carrying a six-point lead going into the third quarter, the Hawks outscored the Nets 41-21 and found themselves with a healthy 26-point lead going into the fourth. The team’s sharpshooting was simply too hot to handle for Brooklyn.
Atlanta sealing the win now means a second-round matchup against the Washington Wizards, a team that handily swept the Toronto Raptors in the first round and now seems to be poised to keep surprising opponents, likely giving the Hawks a bit more trouble than they faced in Round 1. The two teams split their season series at two games apiece, and the Wizards’ John Wall and Marcin Gortat are at the top of their game right now.
While it remains to be seen whether Washington’s sweep of the Raptors has created a well rested or well rusted squad going into the series against the Hawks, Atlanta doesn’t have much time to prepare, as Game 1 is set for Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.