Five observations on a day the NBA laid down the law on
Sure Cleveland was very good. Dominating Thursday in a 105-85 win
The Hawks looked demoralized from the start in execution and body language, worse than any 20-point loss or 0-2 series deficit. That should be the biggest concern as the series shifts to Atlanta -- that the Hawks have already cashed out and don't have the personality to make a long playoff run. It's a bad moment that may actually be a big-picture topic.
Winning a Game 7 in the first round was nice, but that was against Heat. This is a different world. The Hawks couldn't even provide interference against the Cavs.
Through the nine games against the Heat and the Cavaliers,
Atlanta's combined Game 2 blight was 34.9 percent. That drops the playoff-long mark to 41.5. If the Hawks don't get to run, the Hawks don't score.
The Cavaliers continue to be so convincing -- defense, focus, James' domination -- that it's hard to imagine anyone in the East giving them a decent challenge in a series, let alone beating them. It wasn't the Pistons, it's not the Hawks and it won't be the Celtics or Magic in their current inconsistent (Orlando), non-
That's six consecutive wins, all by double digits, and not merely because the competition has been that bad. If this continues, blowouts that allow starters to sit and quick finishes to series, it will be an amazing and rare advantage during the playoffs.
The issue instead is the fallout. The Lakers, already struggling to handle the speed of
The Lakers play Saturday and the Magic play tonight, so it won't take long to file the final damage reports off the suspensions.
The Rockets have to like their chances heading home at 1-1, and that's no cliché throw-away line. (OK, it's no throw-away line.) If just reaching the second round was an accomplishment for the team that annually made a hasty retreat from the playoffs, splitting in L.A. was an additional confidence bump. They're in a good place.
Orlando also heads home 1-1, probably with