Postgame Thoughts: Hawks Play It Safe With Starters As Playoffs Loom

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
By Jaryd Wilson

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks

A few thoughts after tonight’s 113-96 loss to the Raptors:

– I’ll open by saying it was cool to see the Hawks pay respects to those impacted by yesterday’s tragedy in Boston.  There was a moment of silence before the game, and ‘Sweet Caroline,’ a Boston sports tradition, played at halftime.  Nice job by our game operations staff.

– It was clear Larry Drew wasn’t going to risk anything tonight.  While you’d certainly like to see the Hawks play well, it’s clear that the difference between the five seed and six seed isn’t important enough to overplay the regulars.  Al Horford was held out for precautionary reasons with a sore shoulder and Josh Smith didn’t play in the second half after getting his leg iced at halftime.

– The good thing about the regulars seeing limited minutes was that the bench players got to play a lot.  Many of them took advantage of the opportunity.  Ivan Johnson and Mike Scott both had double-doubles, Shelvin Mack added 11 and Johan Petro, who started in Horford’s place, added eight.

– One good thing that came from the on-court action was Kyle Korver extending his three-point streak to 73 straight games.

– The loss puts the Chicago Bulls back in fifth place due to them winning the tiebreaker.  The Hawks will face the Indiana Pacers in the first round unless they beat the Knicks in New York tomorrow and the Bulls lose at home to the Wizards.

– A few statistical notes – The Hawks actually took 10 more shots than Toronto and had seven fewer turnovers, but the Raptors shot 11 percent better.

While it’s still possible to get the five, the Hawks showed tonight that getting there isn’t the priority.  Drew wants to have everybody available and healthy for the playoffs, and that’s what he should have (outside of Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia obviously).  I wouldn’t expect things to be much different in terms of playing time tomorrow in New York.  On the second night of a back-to-back and with the Bulls playing a winnable game, it may be a matter of getting some guys minutes while resting others.  Atlanta will know its playoff opponent for sure by tomorrow, so be sure to check for playoff dates and times as soon as it’s released.

On one final note – We want to say thank you to our fans for an amazing regular season at Philips Arena.  We saw some great moments once again here, and we hope many more will come in the postseason.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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