ATLANTA -- One of the guiding forces for the Atlanta Hawks’ success has been their reliance on staying with specific principles and habits of good basketball.
Taking good shots is encouraged; passing to a teammate for a great one is an expectation.
But there are nights when the rules get blurry as to how to proceed when a teammate has a ridiculously hot hand shooting, like Paul Millsap did in Game 4.
His career-high 45 points to some extent may have affected the usual offensive flow of the Hawks in a bad way. Too many of Millsap’s teammates became consumed by making the pass to him rather than the best basketball play.
“It’s something that is a challenge maybe more so for us,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “But I think there were probably a few possessions where maybe we didn’t stick to what we want to do. Every team at times, including us, you can maybe get out rhythm a little bit going to that situation.”
Point guard Jeff Teague echoed similar sentiments.
“Last game Paul got really hot and we tried to force it to him,” Teague acknowledged on Tuesday. “That’s not our style of play but he was playing so well. We wanted to get the ball in his hands.”
And the Hawks did just that, with Millsap making more field goals (19) than the rest of the team combined (18).
Despite his impressive numbers this season, Atlanta has not made getting the ball to Millsap in the post a priority. That is, until Game 4.
“There were plays where we went into the post a lot; more than we normally do,” Millsap said. I don’t think it hurt our offense that much. We just missed a bunch of shots we normally make.”
Indeed, the Hawks shot 37 percent from the field in Game 4, their worst shooting performance in this series thus far.
Millsap’s performance in Game 4 certainly gave reason to wonder if his one-man show was too one-dimensional for a team that has proven itself to be at its best when a multitude of hands provide significant contributions.
Despite Millsap’s big game, there was at least one Hawks player who felt Millsap’s big game was no excuse for the rest of the players to shoot as poorly as they did.
“He took 31 shots and we finished the game with 100 shots, so there was definitely shots for everyone else,” said Kent Bazemore who had 5 points on 2-for-10 shooting in Game 4.
Teague added, “We just missed a lot of shots (in Game 4). If it wasn’t for Paul we would have lost by 30.”