Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Upon Reflection...

Here's a specific example for why I have little confidence in our team psyche right now going into the playoffs. The following are the quotes after the road victory over the 30-47 Raptors by a score of 118-110.

Josh Smith:
"This was just important for us for so many reasons. We had to have this one. Any way we can get everybody involved the way we did tonight and get everybody playing well and having fun like that, we need that every minute and every second of every game we play."

"We just wanted to play defense and we wanted to focus on the defensive end,'' Smith said. "We were giving them too many easy looks at the basket and we wanted to settle down on the defensive end and get out and run a little bit.''

Maurice Evans:
"There were a number of things we needed to prove on both ends of the floor. All the best teams in the league do that, play together on both ends of the floor. That’s what we have to be able to do going into the playoffs. We have to play like this."

Al Horford:
"It was about finishing tonight. We didn’t start well, but we finished it the right way."

Mike Woodson:

“This was just a huge win,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “These guys stepped up. You have seven guys score in double-figures, that means they came to play. And it’s all about us now.

“We’ve said all along, we control our own destiny. These guys have fought all season for this fourth spot, and they want to go out and show people that they can earn it.”

"It's huge for our ball club,'' Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I've said all along all year, these guys are playing for something. They know what is at stake. We are trying to win that fourth spot. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.''

Which of these quotes is even acceptable considering the opponent and the proximity to the playoffs.

Let's see - Josh's is close as he forgets and then remembers that half of the game involves defense and that we have to get that together to win (oh, and running the floor too - we like running). Like Josh's quote, Mo Evans was on the right track until until he said "we have to play like THIS". Again, these guys must have forgotten that the Raptors were close to winning this game AND we gave up 110 pts. Ok, let's try our coach - surely, he's got the right perspective...oh wait - he called this a huge win and based our effort on the fact that seven guys scored in double figures. How about a stern lecture about why we can't let a team like the Raptors A) sniff a victory against us no matter where we play and B) why they should come close to scoring 110 pts against our playoff-ready defense. How about understanding that there are only 4 games left!!!! If there is a lot of work ahead of us, when exactly is that work going to be complete. He did realize that there really isn't a good excuse for the team to not be playing good defense at this stage in the season, correct? He did realize that trying to get Acie some minutes now is admirable, but that that project was a Oct - Mar thing. He did realize that the silly 2 foul rule was probably something to experiment on in October...

Listen, I'm all for learning from your mistakes or tinkering with things, but saying that we have a lot of work to do is depressing. Not only that - forget the 4th spot. Let's win games. The 4th spot will take care of itself if you win games. Elite teams realize that the seed is important, but it's not a title make. So, concentrating so hard on a seed (which is important, but is one game lapse away from being meaningless) without any regard to developing healthy team habits regardless of venue is what our COACH should be preaching. I don't expect Josh Smith to have that clairvoyance, but I do expect our COACH to see the big picture here. So, who did see it - let's go out with our youngest player.

Well, I guess that leaves us with Al Horford who said that it's about finishing - which is correct - without trying to say that the whole game went well, which it didn't. While I've criticized others for their unwarranted adulation of Horford (based on production, not potential), I can say that he screams leader and championship focused. He's the only player that I can conceive of putting before the team to talk about what it takes to win titles (maybe Mo Evans). If only we could get everyone else in that same maybe the coach.

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