Atlanta Hawks

NBA Playoffs: Hawks Look To Follow Up Impressive Game 4 Performance With Road Win Against Bulls in Game 5 Tuesday Night

Could Tuesday night’s NBA playoffs action possibly take us one huge step closer towards the NBA’s worst nightmare, the Atlanta Hawks advancing to the NBA Finals? Well, we’re a long way from that materializing obviously, but after Sunday night’s Game 4 win over the Chicago Bulls, the Hawks are positioned nicely to perhaps take out the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and along with them the league’s MVP and more marketable superstars. Jamal Crawford likes the way Atlanta is playing, and he’s confident the Hawks can beat anybodyw hen they’re playing up to their ability. But he also knows nothing comes cheap in the playoffs, particularly not against Derek Rose and the tenacious Bulls. The series resumes Tuesday night with Game 5 at the United Center in Chicago. Crawford joined Buck & Kincade on WCNN in Atlanta to talk about his improved play in this year’s playoffs, particularly in the opening round series win over Orlando, Sunday night’s impressive and important win over the Bulls, not being surprised by how well Jeff Teague has played for the Hawks, outscoring the Bulls 33-19 in the fourth quarter of Game 4, his free agency status after the playoffs, what the Hawks will need to do to win the three-game mini-series with the Bulls from here on out, how tough the Hawks are when Josh Smith is playing like he did Sunday evening, and the great piece of coaching done by Larry Drew in the postseason.

On his torrid play in the playoffs, particularly in round one:

“Yeah I thought the end of the season, I just wanted to get a rhtyhm moving towards the playoffs. I know the season was kind of up and down, but I think all of us kind of had an up and down season. Just get the betterment of our offense going so it could be more balanced. So I wanted to get a rhythm those games that we lost, and coach had a method to his madness, and we came in clicking on all cylinders against Orlando.”

How enjoyable was Sunday night’s Game 4 win at home:

“It was very enjoyable. I think it was a must-win for us. A 3-1 series and 2-2 is totally different. Now it’s just a three-game series, and I’m sure it will exciting and interesting the rest of the way.”

If he’s surprised by how good Jeff Teague has been for the Hawks:

“Yeah Jeff’s had some really good moments. I remember a game against Portland in late February he had like 20-plus points and four or five steals. He’s always a guy who uses speed to help get an advantage, and it’s not always an advantage for him, it’s an advantage for his teammates as well. Jeff’s a confident guy, and he’s guy that’s willing to work hard and listen so I’m happy for him.”

On the Hawks outscoring the Bulls 33-19 in the fourth quarter in Game 4:

“Just time to put up or shut up, it was a defining moment in the game. And I think there are  a lot of moments like that during the course of a game, but at that moment we could either go down 3-1 or tie this thing and see what happens back in Chicago. We wanted to put our best foot forward, everybody stepped up, everybody just dug down a little bit deeper and we were able to make plays.”

On running up his price tag this offseason by playing well in the playoffs:

“Yeah I’ve been teased about that a little bit, but I was hoping it didn’t get to that point because if I get to be a free agent, it would be a year that we’d been talking and at that point I’d have to do what I have to do and weigh my options. But right now I’m trying not to think about it and just get lost in the moment, because who knows how long we’ll together, me and this team or whatever. So I’m just trying to put our best foot forward and see what kind of run we can have.”

If the Hawks are confident that they can win the series now that they’ve gotten it to this point:

“Well we’re a confident group, but that’s a tough team we’re going against. That’s a team that won 60-plus games, they won the East and they’re there for a reason. They have the MVP, a great coach — Coach of the Year — and they compete, they play hard every possession. So everything you get you have to claw and fight for. I think it’s just going to be a test of wills, and it’s going to be an exciting last three games if it goes that far; I think it’s going to be a heck of a series.”

On the huge performance of Josh Smith in Game 4:

“Oh he was unbelievable. 23 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, he was all over the floor. And when he’s all over the floor like that, we’re a much better team. He’s the one guy who can pretty much do everything on the court. And when he’s blocking shots, getting steals, second effort plays, rebounds, leading the break throwing lobs to Al Horford, that’s the kind of stuff that energizes the crowd and energizes us as well.”

On the great job done by Larry Drew this playoffs:

“Yeah that’s unbelievable. I think Coach Drew, he has a lot of experience because he’s been an assistant coach. But some people say ‘oh you’ve been an assistant coach for so long, you’re an assistant coach for a reason.’ You have to respect that he has his own way of doing things. Going into the Orlando series he said ‘we’re not going to double-team Dwight Howard.’ And he truly believed that. And if the first game, Dwight Howard had 31 points at halftime. But he stuck true to it, he never wavered from it, and he has his own believes and a method to his madness, he has a reason for the things he does. You have to give him credit. He sees things, plays that will be open later on in the games before they actually develop. I think he has a knack on the pulse of our team, knowing when to be tough, knowing when to lighten up a little bit. He’s just been great for us.”

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