— CLEVELAND - Just say Mo knows.
But what Mo Williams knows isn’t much of secret these days, and if it were, the Atlanta Hawks don’t need a supercomputer to decode it.
They merely need to listen to Mo — or read the newspaper.
Basking in the glow of a 99-72 win Tuesday, Williams mentioned an article he had read earlier in USA Today. The article posited the notion that to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks had to concentrate on three things:
“That was a good article,” Williams said.
The article sounded prophetic. For all the talk here about home-court advantage, about tough defense, about possible layoff rust and the like, the real reason the Cavaliers won was because they imposed their will.
The Hawks had no hope of keeping LeBron from being LeBron; for them to think so bordered on idiocy — for any NBA team. So just pencil LeBron in for his normal numbers and then focus on other players.
“He’s real tough,” Hawks forward Al Horford said of LeBron.
No great revelation was this. It was as obvious as if Horford had said a 2009 Bentley is better than 1989 Yugo. Send me the ’89 Yugo, please!
Horford, however, had the other part of it right when he said the Hawks did do a good job, in general, with the other Cavaliers.
“But I think once Mo Williams and Delonte West got going,” he said, “that’s when it got tough for us.”
Actually, it got impossible, Al. If the Hawks can’t check LeBron and hold Williams and West, the Hawks can’t win this Round 2 playoff series.
Now, they tried Tuesday night to double-team LeBron and get him away from easy baskets inside.
The strategy backfired, because LeBron passed to Williams and West, who spotted up on the perimeter. They exploited the loose Hawks defense.
“When they went to double-team (LeBron), he made the correct pass and we got some great looks on the backside,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said.
So open were those “backside” looks that Williams and West used them to turn a game the Hawks appeared to be in early into what became a blowout late. Both men scored in double-digits, as did James.
Mix into the equation his 10 rebounds and West’s nine assists, and the answer to why the Hawks lost was spelled out before the game. Williams read it in black and white.
The Hawks should read the USA Today article, too, before Thursday night’s Game 2 here. Whether they do, however, seems not to worry Williams.
“If we continue to do the things we do on the offensive end,” he said, “then we’ll be fine.”