The Atlanta Hawks won 60 games during the regular season, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and had home-court advantage against Cleveland – all signs that point to a great season.
And yet, it’s likely going to end on a highly anti-climactic note.
The Cavaliers won Game 3, 114-111, in overtime Sunday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. LeBron James delivered an all-time great performance – 37 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists and three steals – but many Hawks fans are focusing on Al Horford’s questionable ejection just before halftime.
John Kincade’s take? Get over it.
“The revisionist historians are already writing the story,” Atlanta’s 680 The Fan radio host said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They’re going to come up with every single reason why the refs took the game from them (and how) the series could have been different. They’ll come up with every single scenario instead of just looking in the mirror and saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly the better team. The angst is probably going to be delivered by me. Think about me and hope that nobody takes me out.”
The Hawks dropped the first two games of the series in Atlanta. In fact, they were run out of the gym in Game 2, losing 94-82.
“They’ve been out-classed,” Kincade said. “They’ve shown glimpses of heart. They’ve shown glimpses of fight. (But) I have no idea what those last-second attempts were (by Shelvin Mack) to try to tie (Game 3). You’ve got to get better looks than that. You try to draw something up. You had some sort of a plan. I’m very disappointed and I refuse to write this as a feel-good story like some people are trying to do.”
Atlanta gave a spirited effort in Game 3, rallying from a double-digit deficit in the second half – without Horford or Kyle Korver – to force overtime. The Hawks may have been outclassed talent-wise, but they didn’t quit – even when it would have been easy to do just that.
“The Hawks are a classy bunch,” Kincade said. “I thought that Al Horford last night handled the situation extremely well. There was no reason for him to be ejected from that game. I’ll go along with Shaq and others. He deserved a flagrant 1, not 2. He should not have been ejected from that game. If he wanted to hit (Matthew Dellavedova) in the head, he would’ve hit him in the head. There’s no way he could have missed if he wanted to hit him in the head. He deserved a hard foul. I have no idea what Dellavedova got a foul for.”
Horford probably didn’t like that Dellavedova was diving for a basketball around his knees. After all, that’s how Korver was lost for the season in Game 2.
Kincade feels Dellavedova has played a bit reckless – not dirty, but reckless – this series. Still, you can’t fault a player for hustling and giving his body up for the team.
“The Hawks could use someone just like him,” Kincade said. “They could use that.”
Which is one of many reasons why Kincade refuses to put a positive twist on this season’s impending ending, as so many in Atlanta are trying to do.
“It’s a joke,” Kincade said. “They won 60 games. They should have achieved everything that they’ve achieved. They should beat the Nets. They should beat the Wizards.”
Kincade said people in Atlanta were giving the Hawks a pass for their spotty play in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Atlanta fell behind Washington 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals before winning three straight games by a combined nine points. Some Hawks fans saw a team refusing to lose and winning games it had to; Kincade, meanwhile, saw cause for concern.
“It matters how you play in the first two rounds,” he said. “It mattered. People wanted to not pay attention to it.”
Game 4 is Tuesday in Cleveland at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Kincade is already looking ahead to next season and the potential return of Danny Ferry, who is in the midst of an indefinite leave of absence after making racially insensitive remarks about Luol Deng. Ferry was the architect of this year’s 60-win team.
“I can’t wait to see him get back to work,” Kincade said. “And if he doesn’t, the new ownership group are absolute cowards. Flat-out cowards if they don’t give him his job back.”