As game one unfolded, nobody expected Atlanta to beat Cleveland, and they were absolutely right. The Hawks were trounced by the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena 99-72 despite being up by as many as seven in the first quarter.
The Hawks can certainly stand to improve on a variety of areas if they want any shot at winning this series.
With that taken into account, here are the keys for the Hawks heading into game two.
Joe Johnson Needs To Exploit the Mismatch
Johnson did a poor job of attacking the smaller man i.e., Delonte West, in what was easily the Hawks' most favorable matchup of the night.
Opening the game, Joe failed to set the tone by going right after West, instead deciding to spread out his attack which proved to be a major mistake.
On one of the Hawks' opening possessions, Johnson was guarded by Delonte West near the right baseline and instead of using his obvious weight and height advantage to bully West from a post-up position, he elected to take a step-back three which clanked off the rim.
Instead of taking bad shots, Johnson should have punished the smaller Delonte West into submission and attempted a shot, or at the very least allowed a Cavs' defender to come help him, thus opening up a look for one of his teammates.
The next time the two were matched up, Johnson once again bailed out West by passing the ball and the action almost resulted in a turnover. The third time he finally realized this and used his body to get into paint, where he lofted a floater into the basket.
Then finally, to end the first quarter, Johnson pulled up on a nine foot jumper instead of using his body to draw contact and get to the foul line where Johnson shot 82 percent on the year.
Johnson must realize this and correct the problem in order for the Hawks to have a fighting chance. Finishing with only 11 points and turning the ball over five times certainly won't get it done.
You can believe that Head Coach Mike Woodson will explain this to Johnson and expect a different No. 8 on Thursday.
Team Defense on LeBron
Horford made James settle for a three-pointer, and though Lebron made it, it's a good sign that Horford recognized his assets and his fellow teammates around him instead of giving ground and hoping to be bailed out. The shot was also contested, just about everything you can ask for.
More chances than not, James won't nail a 24-footer with a seven-footer charging at him.