Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hawks @ Celtics - 11/12/08

Let's start this off properly. There are no MORAL VICTORIES!!! Period. I don't believe in 'em. You only believe in moral victories when the goal is to get better. So, the years for moral victories were during the 13 and 26 win seasons of yesteryear. At that time, our talent level would not allow us to win basketball games consistently. Then, if you pushed a team much better than yours to the brink - you can claim moral victory. So, unlike everyone else today - I'm not happy with the moral victory...I wanted a simple W.

Now, that said, I am still proud of my Atlanta Hawks. Proud of the fight and encouraged and discouraged about a few things, but the best thing is that after having Osh and Zaza out of the lineup and Big Al on the bench - we still fought and that's with us not playing our best. It's always a good sign when you aren't playing your best, but are still in the game against the world champs in their building on the back end of back-to-back road games. Old Hawks lose that game by 35 just 2 years ago. Now, let's get to the analysis.

Game Feedback - Celtics 103, Hawks 102

Str8 Butter Award - We'll give this one to the TEAM. Yeah, there were areas for improvement, but let's just be clear in saying that the team fought and fought to keep it alive. To see us at less than our best and still in position to win with .5 seconds on the clock is a testament to how far we've come.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* Horford - We'll get to Mike Woodson in a minute (spoiler alert: it. will. not. be. pretty!), but Al left his game in Chicago. It actually just goes to show you that you have to involve players in the game early. Granted he was in foul trouble early, but when he was in the game - did we forget that giving him the ball and working through him yielded GREAT results last night. That said, Big Al - silly fouls are never good, but they are daggers when you are already short handed in the post.
* Johnson - Joe was off tonight - his shot wasn't on for most of the game, but down the stretch...my goodness! The fallaway before Marvin's 3 was, uh, ri-dick-u-lous!!!! So, our All Star was money in the clutch. That's the great upside, but the downside was seeing us revert to the same 'give it to Joe and everyone run away while we let Joe bail us out - aka the Dominique offense from the 80's' that we have watched for 3 years now. With shooters and a post presence in Al - it would have been nice to see our POINT GUARD run a play and take the pressure off of Joe to come up with something, but again let me save some of this for my Coaching section.
* Bibby - I loved his game today (well, all except the having him not play point guard in the fourth quarter), but what was almost Obama won teary eye-esque was seeing him play DEFENSE down the stretch. It's almost like he wanted to earn that $15M he's getting this year. If we can get that part of his game rolling, my goodness - watch out.
* Williams - Marvin was ...Marvin. No complaints about his game, though I still am waiting to see if he can take over stretches of a game. As a spot up shooter though - he was money and it was great to see Joe show confidence in him to make a clutch, potentially game winning 3.
* Pachulia - Well, Zaza was doing his thing as we've come to expect...off on the shot, but going to the free throw line - only to find out that he was hurt and not coming back for the 2nd half. let's hope that this was a minor injury and we'll see him back on Friday in New Jersey.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* Evans - Big Mo - I probably need to find a new nickname for him if I'm going to use Big Al on Horford...anyway, Mo dropped some gangsta 3s on the Celtics. Would have liked to see if his defensive presence could slow down Pierce, but hey - I'm asking for a lot these days when last year getting any competent bench play was non-existent.
* Law - Essentially a DNP - more on this in the COACHING section...
* Murray - Flip was doing his thizzle in the first half - providing the spark we needed off the bench, so WHY was that missing in the second half. Well, could it be b/c he was on the bench. Plus, I think Flip would be more effective if he had a point guard feeding him the rock. Couldn't help but think that when the Celtics were ripping him of the rock in the 3rd quarter that we probably should have the PG (Bibby or...uh, Law) bringing up the ball, but then again maybe I'm stuck in that youth league, high school, and college b-ball thinking where you have your best ball handlers bring the ball up.
* Jones - Good use of fouls and post game. Still looking for the offensive game to show itself, but considering the competition - I wasn't cringing like last year to have you in the game.
* West - Well, for once the 'come in cold and do something at the end of the quarter' strategy worked. Rebound, bring up ball, assist to Flip...wow, I guess that's how it works in practice. Still confused by the fact that if the guy is a lockdown, energy guy - why isn't it worthwhile during other parts of the game? If Ray Allen is killing you and that guy is the lockdown dude, even if he can't score - shouldn't that be worth something.
* Morris - Uh, let's see if I can put this delicately...Morris get your weight up! You had to know that you possibly could be getting some burn, so look alive my man.
* Hunter - DNP, but I wonder how you could have been worse than playing Morris.

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Ok, now that we've lost a game, I can take the governor off. Tonight's game is precisely why I have completely lost faith that Woodson will be an above average coach. Let me count the ways - yes, you needed to take Al out of the game, but uh, for the entire first half. At no point during the Boston comeback did you think - hey, let's see if we can get some of that Chicago Al in the game. Oh, is there a time when Acie might have been able to match up with Rondo or push the ball? If not when you're shorthanded, when? How do you expect to build confidence in your players if you don't give them roles and then play them in GOOD times and BAD times (yes, I agree that Law has not played well in the last few days).

Uh, why didn't Flip get more burn in the 3rd quarter? Why did we go back to the Joe take the ball and make something happen offense in the 4th quarter when the OTHER effort (of passing and spreading out the court) was working? Again, why didn't Al get back in the game? Is it against the law to actually have a player foul out when you're short handed? We don't know if that will happen, but I'd rather get all the minutes we can than to completely eliminate 20 minutes of b-ball time just because you have 2 fouls.

Str8 Talk Love
The only thing that could be said about how excited I was is that there was a big Maxwell/Jazmine Sullivan concert in town and instead of seeing fine, sexually charged women and a great concert - I was more excited about seeing the Hawks beat down the Celtics. Not only that - I threw out my back a little when Marvin hit that three - I jumped so high and yelled so loud (sorry, neighbors). Final note - why wasn't this one of the HD games on Fox Sports? That is WHY I bought my HD TVs to see big games in HD.

Season Prediction

Ok, I think we've settled on the fact that the Hawks are for real. I fear that we'll also soon settle on the fact that Woodson probably will not get the most out of the squad, so I'm not ready to jump on the 50 win bandwagon yet, but I'm ready to say 47-35 and division title within reach. Now, with the EXPECTATIONS high and the bandwagon filling (shouts out to all the Sales people for the Hawks b/c I'm sure your quotas just got a little easier to fill), let's see how we deal with the spotlight and new hype...again, if we get to 8-1...I'll be ecstatic, but I'm worried that this Nets game is a trap game. I hope someone wrote on the bulletin board after the Celtics game - DON'T BE SATISFIED!!!! If there was anything in the pride I'm feeling about my team, it's that we may pat ourselves on the back too much and end up at 8-8 in a few weeks. it's only November, so let's keep it up, Hawks!!!

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