The Atlanta Hawks had their backs against the wall in both Game 6 and Game 7 in their opening round series in the 2010 playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks, but came out in both contests and asserted themselves.
As a result, the Hawks will move on to play the Orlando Magic in the Eastern conference semifinal after a 95-74 victory on Sunday afternoon at home in Philips Arena.
Jamal Crawford continued his solid play in back-to-back games, scoring 22 points on the night, while Al Horford added a double-double.
The Hawks got all they could handle from the Bucks, who pushed them to the series limit, but failed to come up when they had to have it.
Less than a week ago, Atlanta was was knotted at 2-2 in the series, with a nine points advantage in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and were forced to win the final two games of the series to advance to the next round after blowing the lead.
“We let ‘em down in Game 5,” remarked Hawks’ guard Josh Smith in a post-game interview. “We enjoyed every minute of this.”
As the No.3 seed in the East, the Hawks will travel to the No.2 seed Magic as the series begins on Tuesday. Atlanta will have roughly 48 hours of rest as Orlando was the only team in the first round to sweep, closing out their series with Charlotte a week ago.
Atlanta met Orlando four times in the regular season, losing three.
“We’ve got to be more hungry and determined to get over the hump,” Johnson said after the game. “We can’t just beat this team based on talent. We’ve got to play harder.”
On the other side of the court, the Bucks have to deal with the fact that they squandered two opportunities to close out the favored Hawks, and were unable to do so.
“We can’t think about all the ifs,” Carlos Delfino said after the game. “Yes, we missed his presence in the paint. But glory to the guys who kept fighting. We just tried to be as positive as we possibly could.”
The Bucks were led by rookie sensation Brandon Jennings, who tabbed 15 points on the night, but not nearly enough to retort Atlanta.
“I think we were missing one piece, and that was Bogut,” Jennings said after the game. “I wanted to walk out sad, but I had to keep my head up because we were down a couple players [Michael Redd also sustained a season-ending injury]. We did the best we could.
“We showed a lot of people that the Milwaukee Bucks can actually hang in this league.”
While the Bucks can hang, Crawford and the Hawks look forward to the second round.
“It’s just so much fun,” said Crawford. “It’s like walking on air.
The Hawks are installed on Online Sportsbooks with the farthest odds to win the 2010 NBA Championship, currently at 50/1.