Saturday, November 14, 2009

Game Recap - Hawks @ Celtics

Preamble Ramble

Great win! Great win! GREAT WIN!!!!! As is our wont - we saw good and we saw some bad, but contrary to some critics - here at HS8T HQ, we are encouraged greatly by the fact that there were problems with the Hawks attack and yet, we still won by 11 in Boston. So, no - we're not going to wax poetic goodies about everything that happened last night, but we are greatly encouraged that on a night when we were only sublime on the boards that we soundly defeated an elite team on their home court.

Game Recap - Hawks 114, Kings 101

Overall Observations:
  • The Hawks are doing everything possible to rebut my contention that we did nothing to improve our rebounding prowess this offseason.
  • The Hawks have also taken exception to my contention (which was noted multiple times on the ESPN telecast) that the Hawks aren't good at taking a punch from an elite team on the road.
  • Adding Rasheed Wallace to a team with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins just means that the likability quotient of the Celtics has reached all time lows (not to mention the fact that these guys clearly don't realize that sniping at referees all games probably isn't going to win you many 50/50 calls...)
  • It didn't affect the outcome (partly due to the fact that we owned the boards), but it's not comforting to continue to see Joe and Jamal taking contested jump shots off one on one moves in crunch time.
  • The Hawks heart was not to be questioned last night. If anything that came out of this game, the heart plays can overcome mediocre execution (loose balls, good defense, great rebounding, contesting every basket). That's more encouraging to me than any individual efforts. Seeing us go down twice in the 3rd on the road and seeing us fight and then hold off every run in the 4th was VERY, VERY encouraging.
  • Joe Johnson's newly found voice as leader of the team should have gone into the locker room and immediately said - hey, let's not get too excited, we were playing this well the start of last season and got worse. he should also note that the Celtics didn't take advantage of Rondo vs. Bibby (really, any switch on Bibby) and won't let us beat them on the boards like that again and that they probably won't miss 14 of 15 3pters again. Essentially, we beat 'em, but they didn't play well and until we beat them at their best - we still have work to do...

Str8 Butter Award
- The FrontCourt! Joe Smith, Zaza Pachulia, Al Horford, Osh Smith, and even Joe Johnson for all getting on the boards and owning the Celtics. Very encouraging to see that two of the things that we didn't take advantage of last year - rebounds and free throws - have turned completely around. So, Str8 Butter awards to everyone who showed their heart in Boston.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - It's certainly too early to worry too much about Marvin's contributions, but it should be noted that the minutes that we thought Crawford would be taking from Johnson have really been taken from Marvin. It's hard to argue with it from a production standpoint, but let's continue to keep an eye on this because there's no doubt that the Hawks will need more from Marvin Williams this season than what we're getting.
* Osh Smith - How good it is to have the only complaint with Osh's game center around free throw shooting (and we're still trying to figure out what happened in the past 2-3 years to make this go south of 70%), but yes - it's another active game with boards, blocks, and energy.
* M. Bibby - Give credit to Woody - if they aren't going to take advantage of the defensive mismatch that was there for the Celtics, you can use Bibby to max effectiveness for this team and he was big when used as a point guard. (more on this soon)
* J. Johnson - Another subpar shooting effort and it's pretty apparent why - you can't shoot high percentage as a shooting guard if you're going one-on-one for a large % of your shots. Now, if you're going to lead - you just simply can't dominate the ball in crunch time and hope to be successful UNLESS your team rebounds like they did last night. That said, Joe did all the other things you need to do to win a basketball game, so overall effort was very solid, but the offensive execution down the stretch ... not so much
* A. Horford - Another double double and solid effort, but what else is new. The rotation kept him fresh and focused on being a factor on the inside. Be the BOSS, then.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - Tongue has been held on Crawford's shot selection, but it probably needs to be said now. The rumors were true - Jamal will shoot us in a game and can shoot us out of one. Again, our board work makes this a small footnote vs. a major complaint, but there's no doubt that at least 5-6 shots taken in the 2nd half really should have been taken. We love his fearlessness, but as much as we complain about Osh's selection - we are adding Jamal's shot selection to the list of things we want to monitor.
* M. Evans - No production to speak (or complain) about..
* Joe Smith - It's good to see Joe show why he is not only better than Solomon Jones off the court as a veteran leader (we would like to think he's in Osh's ear about those jump shots), but it's great to see it on the court against an elite team as well. Solid D - blocks, boards, spot up j! Those things are useful in postseason basketball.
* Z. Pachulia - Similar to Joe Smith - just solid bench production as we have come to love and expect from the restaurateur.
* J. Teague - There's not much production to talk about, but I'm just happy to see that he played in the 1st half after not getting any burn against the Knicks (the Knicks...Woody!), but again - monitoring this situation as well (that's three - Marvin's play, Jamal's shot selection, and Teague's minutes)
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - Gotta love Hoopinion calling Jason Collins' line a Mario West
* Hunter - Inactive

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Listen, whatever motivational speech you gave - continue to give that one. Well, every thing except the 'we have to play a perfect game' to beat the Celtics. That's a little too much deference and not enough belief that you expect this team to reach for the brass ring of a NBA title this season. I understand the realities, but if you (and the players) are to believe that they can beat anyone anytime, then it shouldn't be coupled with - hey, we have to do our very best to attempt to beat a team. With that logic, we beat a team because they didn't play well, not because we were better than them. But only consider that a quibble

Anyway, no complaints today b/c the things we didn't like are woven into the fabric of the team and we can't blame you for that every game recap (i.e. the ISO-Joe - and now, ISO-Jamal and the switching defense..oh, and can we add whatever philosophy that says that our forwards will take the rebound and then run the break - it's really done too frequently), but the rotation was tight, the game management was on point, and so we give you a game ball, Woody.

Str8 Talk Love

Finally, we're back in Philips and I'll be in the building. Expect a recap tomorrow since the game is followed up by the Pac-Man beatdown of Miguel Cotto...big things poppin'

Dance Team/Game Ops update - N/A

Shout Outs - N/A

Final Notes - Can't mention how hard it is to watch Rasheed Wallace play basketball. Cut the beard, shut your trap, and play the good basketball you know you can play. If we didn't have impressionable Osh Smith, I'd think about how much I wish you were on our team...but watching you - uh, not so much.

Season Prediction

Ok, another uptick...if we can rebound and make free throws like we have been, yes - it's time for an upgrade in our season prediction - we have gone from 47-35 (you see that, Anonymous Guy) to 51-31! 4 game uptick based on road victories over Portland and Boston.

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