Well, chalk one up for the easy analysis. We play hard, we win. Pretty much as simple as that and that includes whatever the Heat bring to the table (yes, that includes D-Wade's A+ game). We certainly want to remember that this is JUST like last year when we came in as a young team with nothing to lose and experience to gain and got smacked in the mouth by the Boston Celtics, so let's not go overboard with our excitement about the victory, but there's certainly reason to believe that our prediction of Hawks in 5 is on solid footing. As we noted, the Heat only has a sublime player in D-Wade and some unproven and over the hill talent. All year long, we played D-Wade well (as well as he can be played) and let the other players try to beat us. Didn't work then, not sure why anyone thinks it's going to work now UNLESS we decide to stop playing hard. So, that's my X Factor. Not Josh, Joe, Marvin, etc - simply effort.
The biggest question for me right now is: Should I go to Miami for Game 3 & 4? In this recession, I should be saving money and not doing irrational fan things like up and leaving for a game that I don't have tickets for. What say you, readers? Leave a comment!!!
Game Recap - Hawks 90, Heat 64
Str8 Butter Award - It's none other than J SMOOVE!!!! Normally, it serves best to try to write in third person, so that it can be linked and discussed in other blogs, but it's best to give my J Smoove comments in first person. It was said here at this blog's inception that Josh Smith was our most talented player (NOT our best player - that's still Joe Johnson), but the season's productivity basically removed most vestiges of that thought and ended up as one of the few things I felt I was completely wrong about this season. Well, the few remaining vestiges were on display in Game 1. This was the Josh Smith that has always made me feel like - hey, he's only 23 who hadn't learned the game, but when he does - he'll be unstoppable. So, yes - I know that my good friends in the blogosphere will point to the horrible decisions to shoot jump shots when he has no jump shot or the questionable decision to bring the ball up court with smaller, active hands trying to steal it from you instead of giving it to your guards or even the lack of consistent all out effort, but let's be honest - there was no bigger star on that court than Josh Smith. And that star was shining so bright that it really wouldn't have mattered what Joe Johnson or D-Wade did. It was the kind of star that makes you high-five people you don't know, makes you lose your voice...the shame is that it had been missing since JSmoove posterized Steve Nash (or even more starkly Kendrick Perkins). Let's hope we see it again...in game 2!
Starter Kudos/Smackdown -
* Williams - A short stint in the game and truly he wasn't needed to win this game, but he set the tone quickly with a few quick buckets and jam. The only question is whether he's ready to be in the starting lineup playing 30+ minutes. If not, PLEASE play Mo Evans and bring Marvin off the bench.
* Smith - Last point - if Josh Smith plays this way for the rest of the playoffs. I'm not sure there isn't a team that the Hawks can't defeat outside of the Cavs and Lakers.
* Horford - Solid produciton as usual, but boundless energy was his strong suit. I'm not sure I saw anyone who was happier to see Josh playing his butt off than Al. Now, we just need to exploit the other half of the Heat's non-existent low post game.
* Johnson - Played a quietly effective and steady game. Having Joe play off of an inside game vs. the isolation All Star is what takes the Hawks from potential upset victim to Eastern Conference Finals contender. Let's hope we see more of the former than the latter. AND that the message he sent in the post-game comments that this is a transition team, not a half court team is heeded by the entire team for the rest of the playoffs.
* Bibby - The last time I felt this good about Mike Bibby was the last time he had a double double in points and assists. Which was a LONG time ago...not only that - he had 2 blocks and who would ever have thought that that was possible. That would be 2 more blocks than J-Smoove. Yes, that's how bad this game was for the Heat.
* Murray - Flip didn't do much and we still won by 26. Again, wow!
* Pachulia - A double double in 20 minutes sounds like the '08 Playoff Zaza is back and we like it! I think he's looking for another moment when he can be in the promos and posters as he was last year during his tete-a-tete with KG.
* Evans - Mo wasn't able to make his 3pters drop, but there are times when his contributions are silent and that is bad and other times it's good. Game 1 - the good contributions were there.
* Jones - Not much to say other than he should see as much time in the series as Chris Quinn.
* West - Slightly surprised to see Mario on the bench throughout the 20 pt+ leads with as much as he's played lately. Now, we've always advocated him as the energy guy and since the energy was there from the beginning - there was no need for him, but it's still surprising nonetheless.
* Claxton - Basically, if you said at the beginning of the year - that Craig Claxton would see the court during a playoff game. I'd have said - for what team? So, now - we can only say that if Claxton is on the court - it's an awesome or terrible thing. Game 1 - it was awesome!
* Hunter - Finally, more court time for people who should know that they NEVER were intended to see the court. Again, who woulda thunk it?
* Morris - Inactive
* Gardner - Inactive
* Law - Inactive
On a day when I'm reading that Mike Woodson received 1 Coach of the Year first place vote, I'll say publicly that I'm not spending the playoffs questioning Coach Woodson. What we will do is provide suggestions...take them or leave them...esp. since Bald Woodson hasn't lost a game in Philips Arena in the playoffs
1. Start Evans, bring Marvin off the bench, so he can ease into the series to max effectiveness.
2. Know when your team is going to win and then bench the starters. Wade was benched for the rest of the game for 2 minutes before we decided to bring in some subs. With 8 minutes left in the game, the game was over. We're up 25 pts, so show your subs some love and get your boys some rest. PLEASE!!!
3. Heed Joe Johnson's post game comments - let these boys run. Not sure why we ever play half court offense, but the team looks SOOOOO much better when we run, jump, and out-athleticize our opponents.
4. Dump the ball down low ALL game. If they don't play Jamario Moon, there is NO one down low that can handle our bigs.
Str8 Talk Love
1. The Crowd - No, it wasn't a sellout. There aren't enough Hawks fans for a sellout on our own and we aren't playing a team that has a loyal fan base that lives here (you aren't really going to ever get Miami natives to LEAVE Miami to live in Atlanta in droves..now, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles...now, we're talking), so the game didn't sell out, but it was still SUPER loud. Like Golden State Warriors in '07 loud. Folks were ready from outside where I saw bull horns and jumping, smiling, Louie rags going...yes, Atlanta is a b-ball town. A fickle, bandwagon jumping one, but a b-ball town nonetheless.
2. The Overscene - You know it's a big game when Ted Turner comes to visit and play with fellow celebs: Keisha Knight-Pulliam, Akon, Warrick Dunn, T.I. (who did the introductions - I guess we don't care if felons are doing our announcements), Jarrett Jack, and Takeo Spikes
3. Our experiences - For the second time this season, we decided to simply stay in our seats for the entire game. No club level, no VIP forays, just buying a drink and watching a game. And it was the best experience all year. Let's see if that continues in game 2.
4. The Honey Quotient - Aside from the fact that it wasn't packed. The ladies came out as they always do when the superstars visit Philips Arena, so if you want the best in Atlanta - come to a playoff game. PLEASE!!!
5. Hawk Shouts - Will Stephens, we appreciate you. For tix, hit him up at the Hawks Box Office.
6. The After Party - There was plenty to celebrate, so we made a trip over to Barley's a few blocks over in order to play some pool, some cards, and have some drinks to toast the Hawks. You can never go wrong when you have a drink, bid whist, and a great NBA playoff victory.
Not feeling any less confident in my Hawks in 5 prediction. I still don't see what people see in the Heat aside from D-Wade. They have an advantage at NO other position. Not one, not the bench, and I'd give them a second game if they had Pat Riley as the coach, but until that happens - it's closer to a sweep to me than a long series.
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