The most telling moment of the Atlanta Hawks post-game press conference was who didn’t show up. Instead of getting to ask questions of players like Al Horford or Kent Bazemore, Mike Muscala slowly walked up to the podium while still glistening from being on the court.
Muscala is an energy big and probably hasn’t had a ton of moments to be up on a podium in a postseason environment. But, there he was. Calm and collected. He answered the questions asked of him calmly and professionally. Then, he walked off the podium back to the bus to go get some rest.
To be fair, was there much more he could say?
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The Cavaliers torched the Hawks 123-98. In beating them, Cleveland set a new NBA record for three-pointers made in a single game.
Mike Budenholzer and his team aren’t hanging their heads, though. They just want to get home and compete for a chance to take back some momentum in this series.
He said: “Give them credit. (It was) obviously great shooting on their part. We need to get better in a lot of areas, probably starting with our transition defence all the way through and execute better offensively to take some pressure off our defence.”
On what Cleveland is doing well: “They’re moving the ball, they’re making the extra pass and they’re making shots.”
If that sounds like everything, that’s because it pretty much is. There was no team in the NBA outside of Oakland or Texas that could have stayed with the Cavaliers tonight, much less beat them.
This leaves the Hawks in a very weird place going into game three. I would not be above saying that the third game of this series is a must-win scenario for Atlanta. But, what can they do?
Well, for starters, they are going to have to get more physical with Cleveland in the early parts of game three. The Cavs were clearly comfortable all night long and it showed as they rained three-pointers on the poor Hawks.
Maybe not as far as Charles Barkley suggested on TNT last night when he said: “You need to take someone out.” A little more resistance might be a good thing, though.
Atlanta will also need its two biggest stars to have a larger impact on these games if they want to have a chance to bring the series back to Cleveland for game five.
Al Horford had a pretty quiet night with ten points and three rebounds on three for seven shooting. While Paul Millsap had a double-double with 16 points on 50 percent shooting and 11 rebounds.
Despite Millsap being the high scorer for the team, the Hawks still looked woefully over-matched and were basically run out of the gym by the Cavaliers.
Muscala said: “Give Cleveland credit. They played a great game. Obviously, it’s a tough loss, but we’re focused on game three – moving forward and getting to play in front of our fans back in Atlanta.”
He might not have had much to say but, that just about covers it. The Hawks need to let their game do the talking in Atlanta.