The Atlanta Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs after their 92-80 Game 7 loss at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. And, while the rest of the NBA world has moved forward to the conference semi-finals, we'll take a look back at an exciting series that UVA's own Mike Scott put together for Atlanta.
Mike Scott was surging headed into the playoffs after a strong April. He had the best game of his NBA career early in the month against Cleveland, when he scored 26 points on ridiculously efficient 12 for 13 shooting (reminiscent of this performance at Virginia). After the Hawks clinched the playoffs, Scott got extensive work in, averaging 33 minutes and putting up a total of 49 points on 50 shots (!) in 3 games.
In the playoffs after a relatively quiet Games 1-3 against Indianapolis and an inefficient 4-15 shooting night in Game 4, Scott made headlines for his performance in Atlanta's big Game 5 win on the road. Scott scored 17 points on 6-9 shooting (5-6 from three), with all coming in a big second quarter, during which he accounted for all his points. With 11:10 left in the period, the Hawks and Pacers were tied 21-21; exactly 4 possessions later, Scott had drilled 4 three-pointers to give the Hawk's a 12-point cushion with 9:20 to play, and it was off to the races.
This video showcases it all:
The announcers said it best - as UVA fans were fortunate enough to experience for 4 years at John Paul Jones Arena, "HE'S NOT HUMAN!!!"
As if being the hero from a huge Game 5 road win wasn't enough, Scott threw down this ferocious dunk in Game 6 in Atlanta, which would be named Sportscenter's Top Play of the week:
(Oh...he was also involved in this shoving match).
Scott finished with just 4 points in that Game 6, then rebounded to put up 15 points in a do-or-die Game 7, including an 8-point explosion in the final minutes of the third quarter that brought Atlanta back into the game. On the series, he averaged 9 points in 21 minutes per game, shooting 37% from the field and 32% from behind the arc. Like his days at Virginia, Scott shoots a high volume of shots, but he's been a bit more streaky in the big leagues.
At UVA, Mike Scott made 16 three-pointers on 44 attempts (36%) in his 4+ years (he played 10 games in 2011 before his injury), as he seemed to much prefer his money jumper, fading away with his heels on the three-point line. Scott made three-point shooting a focus last off-season (after just 1 attempt in his rookie year), and took 200 shots from behind the arc, sinking them at a 31% clip, while maintaining a 48% overall FG%.
After a strong season, Mike Scott's loud playoff performance was especially important because his two-year contract has expired. Scott is a restricted free agent; any team can sign him to an offer sheet, but the Hawks will have the right to match the offer and retain him. It's likely that Atlanta will end up retaining Scott as a role player, someone who can come into games and get hot. To break into a regular rotation, Scott will have to improve defensively. This will be challenging, as we knew that he'd be a "tweener" in the NBA, too small to guard the 4, and a touch too slow to matchup against a 3. Despite this, he's in position to rep the Hoos in the NBA to stay.
When training camp opened before the season, there was a significant contingent of people who thought that Mike Scott would be cut. Yes, you read that correctly. The same Mike Scott who exploded during the Game 5 win and led the Hawks in games played (80) was on the cut line just seven months ago. Well, from there, Scott went on to put up a very solid season off the bench for Atlanta, even if he established himself as a highly divisive player among diehards along the way, thanks in part to the ugly defense (107.6 points per 100 allowed) played when he's on the floor.
Scott led the team in field goal attempts per 36 minutes (15.3), and certainly "earned" his reputation as a chucker. Still, he shot a very respectable 47.9% from the floor as a power forward, and posted a 15.3 PER, which would be in line for the average player in the NBA. For a player making secnd-round money, that is an unequivocal win, and, as referenced with virtually every frontcourt player, Scott was playing a role that was bigger than the one designed for him in the preseason. Yes, Mike Scott is a bad defensive player at this stage, but when he is your 9th/10th man, there is a role there, and he fills it.