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Hawks-Celtics Game 6: Hawks continue their stay in purgatory

Hawks-Celtics Game 6: Hawks continue their stay in purgatory

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
Surprise, lots of this Thursday. (Getty Images)
There were so many things that went wrong for Atanta in this series. Zaza Pachulia unable to play, forcing Josh Smith to defend Kevin Garnett, taking away the Hawks' size advantage. Al Horford out for half the series, not at 100 percent, removing the Hawks' best overall player. Josh Smith tweaking his knee. The questionable late call.

But in the end, you know why the Hawks lost.

They lack any sense of accountability to make themselves greater. They simply settle for being who they think they are.

Joe Johnson ISO sets for step-back jumpers. Josh Smith mid-range contested jumpers. A failure to execute. A failure to be creative at any level. A failure to press themsleves to the next point.

There's acting like you've been there. And then there's being OK with never having gotten to the next level.

This Hawks team just accepts what it is and how it plays and has no one to push them. The Hawks play hard, but at some point you have to want to play smarter as well. And instead they kill themselves in the worst ways.

In Game 6, the Hawks played well enough to win. They played hard enough to win. They did not play smart enough to win. The worst part? There's no change on the horizon for this team, or its fans.

After an ownership change to finally resolve the ugliest remaining ownership situation in the league fell through, the Hawks are stuck in ownership purgatory. Which means there will be no wiping the slate. Which means the Hawks will return the same players in all likelihood.

Josh Smith has requested a trade the past two seasons. He'll likely be back. Joe Johnson holds the league's worst contract (and that's saying something), even as his skillset is undervalued because of the reaction to that contract. He'll be back. Kirk Hinrich will likely move on, but his role wasn't enough to make a difference for Atlanta regardless. Jeff Teague showed a lot in the playoffs, again, but how much of a jump can he make? Al Horford will be healthy, but he's not a player to build an offense around.

Larry Drew has done an excellent job getting the Hawks to play well and hard. But when they need a playset, when they need an adjustment, when they need control and redirection, he simply lets the Hawks do what they do. And what they do is shoot mid-range jumpers. Drew takes more criticism than he deserves. But he also fails to show the ingenuity to put this team at the next level. Like the team, Drew is a fine coach. And that's the ceiling.

So it's another year for Atlanta, with no progress, and no change in sight. The fans aren't upset, they're not excited, they're barely there. The Hawks are the space-fillers of the NBA.

When life is hard, you have to change. The Hawks never quite make life hard enough on themselves to go anywhere afterwards.
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