Thursday, October 29, 2009

Game Recap - Pacers @ Hawks (10/29/09)

Preamble Ramble

Opening Night, Blog Date Night, Jeff Teague's Debut, and a defensive struggle ALL in one night....Yes, the NBA is fantastic! For those who are new to HawkStr8Talk, we do things a little bit differently. First, unlike MSNBC, Fox News, and other opinion makers casted as NEWS, we are 100% dedicated to fair and balanced news reporting, which is kinda hard to do when you have dedicated your life to being the #1 Hawks fan. So, just be aware of the fact that we like to provide entertaining game recaps that include not only our thoughts on the game, BUT ALSO gives a glimpse of what happens throughout all aspects of Philips Arena during the home games and any other interesting tidbits while on the road.

So, without further ado, here's last night's game recap (and if there are other things you want us to cover - please feel free to let us know in the comments - we love new Hawk angles to cover!)

Game Recap - Hawks 120, Pacers 109

Overall Observations - Last season, we didn't spend much time giving any overall thoughts since our Hawks Blog Family seemed to cover all that stuff, so we just went straight to the performances of the players and staff. Well, due to much clamoring for MORE of HS8T's thoughts - we're adding some observations. So, let's get to it:
  • Scoring 120 pts should never been looked at as a bad thing.
  • Needing to score 110 against an inferior team should not be looked at as a good thing.
  • Being led by Horford and Osh Smith feels very good (and foreign) for this season's prospects.
  • Despite all of the fawning over Horford's effort (and it should be fawned over), there was still a nagging sense of how unsustainable this kind of production will be from Horford when the majority of these points are coming on putbacks and not a concerted effort to give the ball to Al Horford on the block. Not to be dismissive, but this was the Pacers interior and as we always say - the Hawks will beat an inferior team. Color me excited when Al is posted up consistently vs. overmatched players and we see a similar game produced.
  • There was no such nagging sense over Osh Smith's effort. He didn't regain his J (on the court or on this blog) yet, but we did forget that he shot a 22ft 2 point shot in the first quarter (to a smattering of boos, it should be noted) based on the great effort he put forward at every other area on the court (yes, we'll forgive the Mike Bibby like rebounding effort).
  • Overall, we still have serious concerns about the minute dispersal (and it looks like Mo Evans and Sekou Smith share my concern) and to be clear, we're not surprised when a lame duck coach goes with what he trusts to keep himself employed. So, let's get on the record - any problems we have with the minute dispersal is 50% ownership/management's fault. Ok, now the rest is on Woodson, but we want to be clear - we won't lay all the blame on Woodson this year regarding minutes.
  • Marvin's efforts also bring us back to the campaign that was championed here last year - PUT MARVIN ON THE 2nd TEAM. We'll keep beating that drum until it happens. The first sign of good aggression seen by Marvin was when he was playing with the 2nd team and the reason is - he knows that he is the best option at that point. Our starting five is good and therefore, leaves to chance that a hot Marvin will still be the 3rd or 4th option to score baskets. If Marvin is going to play defense the way he played it vs. Granger, it just underscores the point - put Mo Evans out there as a spot up shooter/defensive presence and let Marvin be our 6th man along with Crawford. We'll keep advocating for this until it's so...
  • Why aren't our fast breaks starting with a guard and ending with a forward/center's finish (not named LeBron James) like most teams from rec league to the NBA draw up?. Horford and Osh find the guard and let them give you the ball back to finish the break, please...
  • Teague, keep smiling and working hard b/c Law got minutes early in his career too.
  • Finally, our offense sure looked like the same - stand around and whoever can dribble their way to a bucket - offense we remember. Again, that beats a lot of inferior teams, but...oh, nevermind - we're 1-0!

Str8 Butter Award - Al Horford...what can be said about tonight's performance. It was the most dominant we've seen Al since the first Chicago Bulls game of the 2008-2009 season when he had 27pts and 17 rebounds. It was noted in our season preview that we STILL hadn't seen much that was special about Horford's production (which might have been confused with our belief that there isn't talent in Horford's body to deliver said production). Well, we will simply say that if Al was waiting for us to doubt him to deliver, then let me say it now - I doubt Al Horford can repeat this performance on Friday vs. the Washington Wizards. Until then, you, Al Horford, get our Str8 Butter Award for the game.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - It's been noted on several occasions that Marvin Williams should come off the bench and be a super sub (a la Manu). Well, the more firepower we obtain - the more we like the idea. (Yes, I'm repeating this point.) Marvin as a spot up shooter seems to stunt his growth. When he was playing with mostly 2nd teamers, he went for 6 straight points. As soon as the starters returned, right back to secondary option. It's been stated that Marvin needs to get better to move the Hawks up the ranks - well, we can't see how Marvin gets better without becoming a lock down defender and/or more aggressive on the offensive end and it's hard to be better on the offensive end when you aren't at least the 2nd best option offensively on the court. Hence, our campaign for Marvin to go to the bench as a way to increase his effectiveness...who's with us?
* Osh Smith - Again, we simply say - great game, Osh. You keep this up and you'll be called Josh in no time. We do want to see you on the glass more often, but it's hard to complain when you are an all purpose player. See how great you can be when you don't worry about jump shots.
* M. Bibby - We actually were kinda worried for a minute that none of the good attributes of having Bibby would be coupled with the bad ones on display (i.e. non-existent defense), but then the 4th quarter happened. 8 quick points later and we remembered why we allow the matador to do what he does. Thanks for the reminder, Mike.
* J. Johnson - Joe actually looked like he had the early season jitters. The kind that made my date say - uh, it might be time to re-open negotations on that 4yr, $60M extension. Well, Joe got it together and the most heartening thing from this ENTIRE game was the post-game comments of Joe Johnson...those being ""he win was great, but I thought our play was ugly -- especially on defense." That sounds like the type of leadership and comment unseen in Hawks Land. Highlighting our problems during a WIN is exactly the type of leadership we've been asking for. For those who have heard every justification for a win from Mike Woodson, we were glad to see that he recognized that that defense will win no titles. Thanks, Joe.
* A. Horford - Again, we'll just say - you were a man amongst boys and we'll like to see you continue this All-Star effort just to shut me up. Yep, I'll eat the crow...just make me!

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - There's really nothing that I can say b/c despite the offseason buzz around you - you weren't in the game enough for me to make a judgment. So, we'll just assume that your 6th man bid (and attempt to prove that you're better than Flip Murray) will start on Friday.
* J. Teague - You sir were a giddy young man out there and we think it's infectious. Keep smiling, keep dunking, and keep learning. We can't let you get diagnosed with AL4 disease.
* M. Evans - First, you have been shooting well from preseason and carried it over to the first game, but we agree with YOUR post game comments (is this bizarro world or what - TWO insightful comments from our players...could Joe Smith have infused leadership qualities this fast?) and that's that Woodson has to trust the 2nd team with more minutes. We won't belabor the point, but keep asking to take some of the load, Mo.
* Joe Smith - It goes without saying that the contrast of Solomon to Joe is like lukewarm milk to ice cold water. Yes, we agree with you, Bret - there's a stunning difference.
* Z. Pachulia - Zaza just does what he always does - plays hard, plays on the ground, and gets..wait, did you get just 1 rebound? Well, at least it was an offensive one. Ok, we'll give you a pass since we did win, but let's not revert to the Zaza of 2 years ago.
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Inactive

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Coach Woodson, we've resigned ourselves to not criticize your minute dispersal, though we do want you to trust the bench more. That said, we'll keep our criticisms to a minimum. The main one being - is this STILL our offense? The run around and dribble until you find a shot offense was on full display again. Now, we'll assume that it was an off night on defense, but the offensive design still looks devoid of ...well, a design. Like plays and stuff. I mean, excuse me for watching other teams, but they have plays - they do screens and pick and rolls and ...well, why am I saying any of this? I know I'm asking for a lot when I say - let's try some offensive plays. I promise they'll come in handy in the postseason. PROMISE! Yes, it worked against the Pacers and likely will work for 40-45 more games and yes, we're 1-0, but it WAS the Pacers, s0 can we try it my way - please?

Str8 Talk Love

And now to the things you were really looking for - what happened on date night? Ok, first - let me say that Coco looked stunning as usual. I was gruntled when I saw her appear at the Will Call window, but then the question I had was - should she look stunning on a Blog Date at Philips Arena? Should that be held against her? I mean, it's the Hawks game. It's the middle of the week - there's no party afterwards (BTW - why wasn't there? Last year, they had a great after party at Stats and it was wonderful. Why didn't that happen again?) Anyway, I felt underdressed with my throwback Hawks Pistol Pete jacket, t-shirt, and jean ensemble. That said, we had fun talking about the Hawks and making comparisons to the old and new Hawks. We did everything but kiss and hold hands and that was appropriate - I mean it was a first date, but definitely something I see us doing again during the season. We even had our first fight (over what is a bad compliment - I think if you say someone that you care about is 'a nice person' then I think you are really saying - there is something wrong with them or there is nothing unique about them that you'd want to be associated with...she didn't share my sentiment. Readers, chime in in the comments, please!)

I have to cop to the fact that while we did make the video board for a brief second - it wasn't for Kiss Cam, which was WAYYY too early after halftime. I was still in the drink line when it came up, so no kisses for us yet, but there's still future games, so don't fret. When it happens, you'll be the first to know. Final note - is there any attraction? Well, I'll let this direct quote answer that "This bra has got to go", I don't know if that's due to any pain or my presence, but we're gonna go with 'my presence' and work from there...thanks for the memories, C.C.

Dance Team/Game Ops update - It has been stated that the Hawks Dance team is the 4th best looking in the league based on Dime Magazine's standards. Well, we won't get into what looks good since there certainly were some stunners in the ranks Ione stunner who looked that much better when one young lady ended the routine with a full split), but we must say that if one young lady is off during the routing - it just messes up the whole routine and on opening night - that's just not acceptable. (Note: we won't out who it was just in case - a dancer decides to read the blog, can't mess up my chances.) That said, we're going to do a review on the dance team on Friday. We'll be there with a choreographer and former Hawks Dance Team (and Heat Dance Team) member to give analysis on what we SHOULD be seeing. Also, it looked like there were a lot fewer dancers...recession casualty, maybe?

Shout Outs - Will Stephens (if you ever need tickets - call the Hawks office and hit him up), Harlee, Stacie, Will Packer, Bret, Jimmesse, Lynetta, T Luv, Che, Clinton, Fard, Big Mel, Marcus, Stacy, and so many others...also big up to the celebs in the house - Christina Milian, The Game, Bow Wow...

Final Notes - Also, how is it that the Thrashers aren't promoting the fact that there's a young black man who plays for the team and is named after EVANDER HOLYFIELD? What kind of miscarriage of marketing justice is that? You're in Atlanta! He's named after one of our hometown heroes and you need more people to come to the games...did I mention that Kovalchek is out for the next few months? In other words, look out for a visit to Philips to see how this young guy performs.

And we need more advance warning on the 'don't sit down until we've scored' tradition. Esp. since this is only a 'since the 2nd round of the playoffs' tradition. Good idea, but let's make sure we get this thing noted and marketed in the future.

Season Prediction

Still 47-35 and 4th seed is what we think and that's what we're going with. Now, we will take this time to simply say to our offseason critics - it's still quite plausible that the Wizards, Raptors, and Bulls could overtake us, so let's not rest Hawks! there's work to be done....


thirdfalcon said...

I was actually ok with the minutes aside from Joe's 39. You certainly don't want to take Josh and Al out when they are playing like that. They need all the positive reinforcement they can get when they play well. And I really can't advocate playing Evans over Marvin except for when big butt needs rest.

That said I think it's pretty safe bet that Crawford will see more minutes on Friday. Things seriously might get ugly if he doesn't.

One thought that crossed my mind was that Woodson might be refusing to play him major minutes until he sees effort from him on the defensive end. Which I think would be a good strategy. Either way it didn't look to me like he was coasting so maybe he will finally try now that he's a on a team that isn't bound for the lottery.

If you assume (like I do) that he will play from 25 to 30 mpg, than some of his minutes would come from Joe and the rest will come from either Teauge or Evans. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, Yes, if you aren't on board with my Marvin for Mo plan, then I'm onto something. ANd to be clear there is a difference between starting Evans and playing him more minutes than Williams. I am advocating an arrangement like Manu's where he doesn't start, but he still gets 30-35 minutes and gets all the crunch time.

So, it doesn't change much other than the rotations and who Marvin plays with during the first 3 quarters. Anyway, it's just a theory to get the most from Marvin on the offensive end.

Finally, to be clear, most of my minute complaints over the past few years were about too many for players who we need fresh for the postseason (this season that would be Joe, Joe, and Mike) and too few for players who need minutes to develop (this season that would be Jeff and in the case of multiple injurie..Othello and Randolph) - Note: and before you go too far with that - no, I'm not saying I want Othello or Randy playing significant minutes).

Anyway, I've rarely understood Woodson's coaching style, so I am not going to try to figure out why Woodson would do anything, but I seriously doubt if he'd withhold minutes based on defensive effort. He hasn't done that with Bibby, Josh, or any other player that didn't play good defense for this team, so why start now? That said, again, I don't know what he'll do and I'm going to just watch it and see vs. try to assume anything.

I can only say that I'd like for the trend to be something that's consistent that allows the player to understand his role on the team. It would be nice for us to have an identity for a change...

thirdfalcon said...

I'm not necessarily against it. It could work, although I think Marvin might not be aggressive enough to be an instant offense guy. I see where your coming from with Marvin vs second units and with our second unit though.

I also think it's more likely that Crawford would play shooting guard with Joe at the 3 and Marvin on the bench than Evans starting. I just think that Evans and Teague are our worst rotation players right now, and one of them is going to get phased out barring injury.

So I like your idea, but I really don't see it happening, at least not exactly as you describe it.

P.S. You think Bibby doesn't try on defense? I just think he isn't quick enough to keep up.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I agree that Marvin might not be that guy. I think it would have to be approached with the coach saying - that's the only reason we're doing this, so shoot the ball.

But that said, the theory doesn't work if Jamal is playing b/c he wants to shoot too. The point of putting Evans out there is that he doesn't need the ball to function or decrease our scoring output. The only thing we'd ask him to do is play defense and hit open 3s (which is what we ask Marvin to do). I can't argue that Mo Evans might be on the low end of our rotation, but that doesn't mean that we play worse when he's on the floor. Our record with him starting last year gives evidence of that fact.

So, I don't see Evans being phased out at all. Teague, maybe? But then that would destroy any thought that the minutes for Bibby or Johnson will decrease (we only have 4 guards on the roster). So, my theory is really based on saying - there are only so many balls to go around and so, let's move him to a place where he is the main cog to keep him focused on both ends. Too often, Marvin is loafing on the offensive end due to our scheme. So, this is just an idea for how to keep him engaged with the same minutes. Might not work, but I think it's worth the try plus it gives balance to the 2nd team's front court instead of having the guards (Jamal and Jeff) dominating the ball exclusively when the reserves are in.

But to your point - it's not going to happen...oh, and I wouldn't say I think Bibby is putting out max effort on the defensive end, but I don't think he's dogging it either. The only player I would accuse of ever dogging it is Josh Smith.

thirdfalcon said...

Ok, you've sold me on experimenting with Marvin as a sixth man. The lack of aggressivness might even help because he would be more willing to except it than Childress was, even though Marvin/Evans is way more lopsided than Childress/Marvin was.

It would take some foward thinking that we aren't likely to get with Woodson though so it's probably a pipe dream but I still like the idea.

I see the minutes shaking out a couple of different ways depending mostly on Teauges play.

The first way is if Teauge doesn't play well enough to justify a spot in the rotation. Then Crawford backs up both Bibby and Joe and end's up playing 25-30 mpg with Teauge playing only when it's not possible to play 2 of Bibby/Joe/Jamal. Evans gets the majority of Marvin's leftover SF minutes which I'd guess would be 15-ish mpg.

The second way is if Teauge plays well enough to justify a spot in the rotation (i.e. we are getting equal or greator production from Teauge than we are Evans) and we play alot of lineups with Crawford at the 2 and Joe at the 3 when Marvin sits. And Evans only plays when it's not possible to play Joe, Bibby, Crawford, and Teauge when Marvin is resting. This would probably end up being 5-10mpg which would get bumped up dramatically if anyone gets hurt.

I think it's pretty obvious how our frontcourt rotation is going to work if healthy.