Theoretically, a Game 7 in any sport is supposed to be compelling. In reality, though, Atlanta's 91-78 win played out just like the first six games in this dreadful series: the final outcome was decided early (there wasn't a single lead change after the first quarter in any of the seven games), rendering much of the game a mere formality.
Dwyane Wade did his best to make the game competitive -- he scored a game-high 31 -- but the lack of a supporting cast did him in. Michael Beasley (17 points in 33 minutes off the bench) and Udonis Haslem (14 points, nine boards) carried their weight, but the rest of the team combined for just 16 points. Jermaine O'Neal was officially listed as active but did not play due to lingering effects of a concussion suffered in Game 5.
The Hawks, meanwhile, featured a well-rounded attack led by Joe Johnson's 27 points (10-19 from the field, 6-8 from beyond the arc) and Josh Smith (21 points, nine boards).
Al Horford, who did not play in Game 6 due to an ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup. Statistically speaking, he wasn't much of a factor (seven points, three boards), but the fact that he was able to get on the floor and play 31 minutes helped Mike Woodson restore some balance to his rotations. Marvin Williams, who played only five minutes in Game 6 due to an injured wrist, missed his fourth game of the series.
Even though the series was marred by inconsistent and frequently chippy play, the mere fact that the Hawks were able to play a Game 7 at home and subsequently advance to the second round is a nice step for the organization. This team made some noise last year by forcing the Celtics to seven games in the opening round, and today's win cements the fact that Atlanta is a team on the rise and headed in the right direction.