Since it's New Year's Eve and we have limited time, we're going to keep with the thoughts and add a resolution section.
Game Recap: Hawks 110, Pacers 104
1. In another example of why I've had to issue an apology and reassessment of the fact that Joe Johnson really is our most talented player (I was sure he was the best player, just thought that Josh was a bigger raw talent - uh, incorrect!), Joe put the Hawks on his back down the stretch and took us to a road victory.
2. Josh too has established a pattern that I'm not sure we're going to break as long as he's coached by Mike Woodson (and that's not meant as a knock on Coach Woodson), but I'm slowly being seduced into the thought process that you have to just put up with the downside of Josh in order to appreciate the brilliance of Josh. Now, the turnovers - no, we're not accepting those. Most of those are Josh Smith not getting the concept of 'give the ball to the point guard to make plays' and that's something that Mike Bibby needs to demand of Josh. But the Pacer game showed all parts of the Josh Conundrum. He was great inside - boards, nice dishes, intimidation on defense, and points in the paint and at the charity stripe. He was awful when on the perimeter - either passing the ball or shooting it. And for some reason - I think we're just going to have to grow to accept it (and these wins that come with it).
3. Al had a double double. Ok, why am I still unimpressed? Crashing the boards should never be understated, but when you're playing the Pacers inside - color me less impressed. Again, we all have a love affair with Al, but it is time that we start to question whether it's Al's game or Mike's coaching that's suppressing his ability to provide more scoring in the paint. Let's please hope it's the coaching. I'm not sure I'm prepared for this to be the ceiling on Al's offensive production.
4. The more we win, the more I'm concerned that we're going to burn out the starters for our PLAYOFF run. While most are happy just to be going to the playoffs (provided we stay injury free down the stretch), on a night when Zaza is ballin' - why can't he get more than 14 minutes of PT. Is it just me or does Zaza deserve at least 25 minutes a night at the rate he's getting rebounds and garbage points? The way Zaza is playing has me convinced that he can get a double double in 25 minutes of work and if he can - LET HIM!!!
5. I ran out of witty things to say about why Acie is buried on the bench, so I'll just start with which players I think the opposing team has trotted out that Acie can compete against. Today's example: Travis Deiner (13 minutes). Man, if Acie couldn't produce when Deiner was in the game - well, then Mike - you're right and everyone else is wrong, but how about 5-10 minutes of time to find out. I would have said TJ Ford (11 minutes) and Jarrett Jack too, but the way Jarrett was ballin' yesterday - I'm glad he didn't get to embarrass Acie like he did everyone else in front of him on the defensive end. Shout out to Jarrett Jack from the Georgia Institute of Technology...represent!
New Year's Resolutions
The Hawks asked me a question yesterday - what are my Hawks resolutions? I offered up a few, but they had to be sanitized for Hawks use, so I'll break them down here in Str8 Talk fashion.
1. For the fans to start supporting this team the way you would a team you want to win a NBA title. I'm not saying we have all the pieces yet, but I am saying that we have a home court advantage and we have a good shooting team who right now has the 5th best record in the LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, let's support them as if we EXPECT them to make a deep postseason run.
2. For Mike Woodson to coach this team as if we are planning to make a deep postseason run. What does that mean - well, we can't play the starters 40 minutes a game. We can't forget that we are the most athletic team this side of Portland and we need our legs to use that athleticism in the playoffs. Finding more minutes for Zaza, Solomon, and Acie while still winning games - yes, that would be nice.
3. For the vocal leadership to take hold of Josh Smith - more inside, less outside. More rebounding and dunking and passing in the paint. Less playing point guard at any juncture in the game. In fact, I resolve to make sure that Josh Smith gets the James Worthy Video Mixtape. I can't wait to see his eyes get watery as he watches Worthy get the board, give the ball to Magic, run the court like a gazelle, get the oop/pass/whatever Magic did to get him the ball and make him an All Star. Maybe he'll get it that Worthy was a great talent, but he wouldn't be an all time great if he was trying to dribble and get assists on the break. Josh Smith, you can be James Worthy, but to be worthy (pun intended) - you can't be Magic. Please give the ball to the guys who make better decisions, have better ball handling, and make better passes in traffic than you.
4. For Marvin and Zaza to continue to play with the heart they played with during this past homestand.
5. For me to do a better job with the blog, finding more topics to cover, and to ensure that I'm fair and talking str8 for 2009. Also, for me to ease up on Josh Smith and recognize that the Hawks have only lost 4 games while he's been on the court this year - 3 during the Texas Road Trip of Death and to the Celtics at home. That's it. So, for all the crying about what he doesn't do - I will say that his presence has a lot to do with why we are 21-10. We're 15-4 with Josh - let's keep that in the forefront of criticisms...and publicly I say - I LOVE Josh Smith - I only say what I say so that he can prove me right in my assessment that he can be our visible superstar (Joe can continue to be our invisible one).
Still at 51-31 and feeling damn good about it. Hawks are 21-10. Can You Dig It? Happy New Year, Hawks fans....
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