Cool. Calm. Clutch. Did I mention cool?
That was Brandon Jennings last night.
In the first quarter he carried his team with 12 straight points when the Hawks looked poised to prove they were the clearly dominant team. Then in the fourth quarter, Jennings hit clutch free throw after clutch free throw.
I thought that the Bucks would be completely outmatched this series without Andrew Bogut. I was wrong. I thought that the Hawks had finally crossed that threshold into legitimate contender this year. It looks like I was wrong.
But, Brandon Jennings has proven in this series that he is capable of leading his team to victories, with the help of Salmons who might be the Byron Scott of players, Ridnour, and the brick-house that is Kurt Thomas. Interesting stat, Thomas had a +/- of +21, Gadzuric was -12.
Al Horford was not neutralized with Thomas on the court, but he was certainly bothered. Josh Smith bumped heads with Salmons and couldn’t find his way through the rest of the game despite playing 37 minutes. Joe Johnson was equally disappointing, showing why he isn’t on the superstar level with the game’s other top players. Jamal Crawford, on the night that he received 6th man of the year honors, scored only 11 points in 35 minutes.
The bright spots for Atlanta were Horford and Marvin Williams. I know, Marvin Williams. It seems that if Williams is having a good game then Atlanta would be having a great game since he is clearly not a go-to guy for the Hawks. However, if they need him to produce things have gone terribly astray.
But Jennings was the real jewel of that game. His assist numbers weren’t shiny and his rebounds were expectedly minimal. But he molds to whatever his team needs from him, and that has certainly been the case all series. If they need him to score, he’ll flash his better-than-advertised long distance shot and he will whip by his man for a layup (contested or otherwise).
And Atlanta has to be the most disappointing team in the entire playoffs. Every other team did what they were supposed to do except Atlanta. In game 5 they tried to get tough like a boy band after they start to grow older than their audience. They committed unnecessarily hard fouls on Bucks players, fouls that seemed to be out of frustration and proving that they weren’t soft.
I didn’t even think this game would go 6, but now it seems as if Milwaukee actually has a good chance of winning in 6. This is incredible. And I don’t want to blow this up to something that it simply is not. Milwaukee hit their stride after Salmons was picked up and Jennings can’t be given all the credit. But, he is fun to watch and its hard to take Salmons seriously with that bush growing from his chin.