Most NBA analysts predicted a tough, grind it out series between two evenly matched teams that would see the full seven games. While the Heat-Hawks series reached seven games, it was anything but the expected close and rough it out series. Oddly enough, every single game was a blowout that was decided by the second quarter.
Making it even more odd was the fact that the blowouts weren't just on each team's respective homecourt, but also on the road. When the Hawks won Game One in dominating fashion with a 90-64 win, most analysts thought that it would be difficult for the Heat to recover in Game Two, especially being on the road. But, oddly enough, the Heat rebounded with their own dominating 108-93 victory.
Miami then returned to American Airlines Arena with homecourt advantage and prime position to take command of the series. It looked like that would be the case after another blowout victory in Game Three, with Miami winning 107-78. Once again, the quarterfinals series went different than anticipated with Atlanta winning Game Four on Miami's home floor by a double-digit margin.
With the series knotted at two a piece, many people thought that the intensity would be turned up for the final three games of the series, but once again everyone was mistaken. The next three games saw three more blowouts that were all over early. And after a long seven game series, everyone left puzzled as we witnessed blowout after blowout with very little lead changes or even general excitement.
While the series was certainly physical and had a lot of pushing, shoving, and hard fouls, there was really never any question who was going to win each game. The series also had some common trends that showed who was going to win each game.
First of all, the team that won the rebounding battle won the first six games of the series.The only exception was Game Seven when the Heat outrebounded the Hawks 39-30 and still lost. Another odd stat that existed was that there wasn't even one lead change after the second quarter during the entire seven game series.
Other common trends in the series were the three-point shooting by Miami. In victories, the Heat averaged 47 percent from beyond the arc, while in losses they averaged 24 percent.
The series simply lacked any form of drama besides the few hard fouls, typical trash-talking, and barrage of highlight reel dunks by Atlanta's Josh Smith. Every game was decided by double-digits, with the closest game being a 10-point victory by the Hawks in Game Four. The average margin of victory in the series was 19, with no real question who was going to win the game by the time halftime rolled around.
The series was simply an odd one that really offers no explanations. The League's scoring champion Dwyane Wade still averaged 29.1 points per game in the series, which is only one point under his regular season average of 30.2 PPG. Many aspects of the series made it seem like it would have been a grind it out series, but it never turned into that type of series.
While there are obvious explanations for some of the blowouts such as Atlanta limiting Miami's role players, or Joe Johnson's lack of production, or the injuries that occurred through the series, it still was very odd that there wasn't even one close, edge of your seat type game.
Now that both the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are eliminated from the playoffs, we can only speculate on what made their Eastern Conference first round matchup so odd and so different from typical four versus five seed matchups. We can be sure that next year that every time Miami and Atlanta square off, it will be much closer, much more exciting, and filled with a lot more passion and drama.
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