Monday, November 2, 2009

Game Recap - Hawks @ Lakers

Preamble Ramble

Let's just start with the obvious - the Lakers are better than the Hawks! So, our observations and comments are not complaints as if we were supposed to win, but are thoughts for what will prevent the Hawks from beating great teams consistently.

Game Recap - Lakers 118, Hawks 110

Overall Observations:
  • It seems like Mike Woodson is on the yo-yo regarding this minute distribution. Yes, we want Joe to get, we don't want Joe to get rest when he's KILLING the Lakers. So, you can rest him when we play the Kings or the Timberwolves to make up for the extra 6 minutes playing the Lakers...
  • So much for regaining the J in your name, Osh Smith.
  • The upside to this game was Jeff Teague and fuel for my Marvin as a Super Sub mantra. Marvin didn't show up and I think it's because he's not ever going to be someone who we are trying to get going with this starting 5.
  • Rick Sund, are you sure Al Horford is a center? Even without Pau Gasol, the length of the Lakers (and we're talking Bynum, Mbenga, Powell) gave Horford fits on the inside. And especially if Osh isn't going to play as a 'get me rebounds' power forward.
  • The third period was our case study for 'Why we give the ball to the point guard to run the offense from the time we get the rebound until we get into our offensive sets'? (I know, what offensive sets?, but work with us on this one)
Str8 Butter Award - We will give our award to Joe Johnson for his first quarter outburst, but that's it. No other words need to be said.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - Ok, just repeating here - using Marvin as a spot up shooter in this offense is not going to provide the Hawks the bump in productivity that would look like a major leap for Marvin. So, let the Marvin as Super Sub machine start...
* Osh Smith - Ok, just repeating here - designing ANY offense where Osh Smith is on the perimeter in a shooting position OR that doesn't drive the point that you must make all shot attempts outside of 3 seconds on the shot clock INSIDE 10ft is bad offense. It should really be a fireable offense to have it work that way.
* M. Bibby - No turnovers from and some good shooting early in the 2nd half was good. Not having the ball in your hands as the POINT GUARD in the 3rd period was bad.
* J. Johnson - You tried your best, but once the other team decided to do what we would have done to Kobe (if he wasn't scoring in transition so effectively) and that's make someone else beat them - the game was over. Sorry, but if all our 'offensive firepower' goes in the tank when we need it most - it's gonna be hard for you. That said, we probably should have given you the ball more (or better yet, just not sat you down when you were on fire) to see if you could match those 41 from Kobe.
* A. Horford - Let this be my example of 'getting too excited about Al Horford dominating a team for the 2nd time in his entire career' is hazardous for your health, THHB (said in my Ryan Cameron - offensive foul voice). Like we always say, we LOVE Al. You just can't get excited about Horford when our offense is a dribble to beat your man to score offense. That's pretty much it...

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - Again, the defense is questionable, but if you can outscore people while you're on the floor - we'll take it. On nights like tonight, the turnovers, no defense, and inability to hit from 3 hurts a bit.
* J. Teague - It was great to see Jeff being given the shot to provide a spark. Hopefully, Woodson will use this to great effect. The best thing I can say without gushing is - maybe you've found your Mario West energy guy in the body of someone with more skills to boot.
* M. Evans - There's nothing here to hype, but Mo has played solid ball this year. Turning into a defensive stopper would aid my efforts to get him a starting role.
* Joe Smith - Not much again to get excited about other than the takedown of Jordan Farmer to FINALLY say - enough with the layup line happening at our rim. That's what we want to see from our veterans - next time, let's start at the beginning of the run, not the end.
* Z. Pachulia - Not really bad on the offensive end, but the length and athleticism of the Lakers bigs made Zaza look really ineffective
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Inactive

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Since I don't want to sound like a broken record, I'll just say a few words. We never thought we'd win this game anyway, so why beat up on Coach Woodson...oh, because we can. A few things that puzzled me - First, why not use your timeouts to stop the bleeding in the 3rd quarter (or to figure out a new defensive strategy in the first half)? Second, I would like it stated once again - I don't care what your defensive rankings are at the end of the year, but against good teams - our defensive strategy will be exploited to great effect. You just can't beat good execution and good basketball players with the philosophy we have. On the good side, I do like the fact that 10 players STILL got to play vs. the Lakers - finding a good mix is the sign of a coach who is trying to trust his bench and is coaching his way to a solution during a game that is getting out of hand. Now, we weren't successful in the end, but seeing everyone still playing was a great sign. Last year, only 8 players played vs. good teams no matter steps, baby steps

Str8 Talk Love

It was fun watching the game at the crack of dawn to get this out. That's called being a true fan when a full weekend and the World Series cause a delay in watching a big game.

Dance Team/Game Ops update - N/A

Shout Outs - N/A

Final Notes - We also want to note that we like the new Joe Johnson mantra of calling out the team. In this postgame interview, he noted that "the Hawks are too soft". Well, we've been saying this for a while. That toughness, rebounding, perimeter defense, and leadership were the areas we needed to improve. Well, we kinda got some leadership, but the other 3 are still sore spots and last night was an example of why we want more focus on these areas in the vein of building a championship team.

Season Prediction

Nothing's changed - 47-35! Let's see how we measure up against the Blazers, but if we're guessing - this is a crucial test of how we adjust and focus on the road.


Jesse said...

W/R/T your 'Final Notes'

While I would normally agree 100%, I have this sinking feeling that the current circumstances involving JJ and the Hawks might make this not exactly the best year to start exerting his minimal leadership skills as it relates to post-game comments, specifically calling players and the team out. You have a high paid and highly skilled player who up until recently had been THE MAN as far as scoring and this team was concerned. The Hawks were all JJ and not much else. Now that isn't exactly true as Josh and Al can score when there is a solid offense being run instead of the ISO-Joe.

Not only that, but when a very good deal was offered to JJ, he turned it down. There's only two reasons for this, either he A) thinks that he is worth more that what was offered, or B) he doesn't think the Hawks can continue to improve enough to contend for a ring. This could easily be miscontrued as though he thinks he is better than the other players regardless of which reason he chose to turn down the offer.

All of these things combined could make his post-game comments after a loss quickly put a crack into the overall team chemistry and create a divide amongst the players. In most cases a calling out of the team after a bad loss is needed, but if he's going to get into a habit of it after every loss and continue to use such strong words, this could get ugly quick. I don't think that's something anyone wants, player, coach, management, or fan.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I hear you, but I think I'm going to go with more verbal, urgent feedback this year vs. the passive excuse making of years past. I acknowledge that it could be an issue, but I'm hoping that his tenure and relationships with the players affords him the ability to hold everyone accountable privately and publicly without a tremendous amount of fall out.

So, yes, I'm sure all of that could happen, but I also know that players tend to separate business and game play. I'd rather have us on the trigger quickly saying that our effort is not acceptable now than waiting until midseason to speak truth to the team. I'll revisit my thoughts on this at the quarter mark of the season.

Jesse said...

Agreed. I'm all for a more vocal JJ, but this is definitely an item to watch as the season progress.

CoCo said...

I still see what Joe is saying as passive excuse making. He's not offering any solutions. Hell, they've had the same problems he spoke of after that Lakers loss for years and they all seem to be able to point out the problems, but no one does anything to change it. Don't speak about it, be about it.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'm not sure I'd say it's passive for Joe. He was pretty clear - we're soft! To say that after Game 3 or to speak up after a preseason game, that's pretty aggressive. Now, you're right - what are we going to do differently to follow up on that..i'm not sure, but it certainly allows for 2 things...1) more specific items that need to be addressed by players and 2) Rick Sund to understand that if things don't change, Joe may leave and that goes directly to the coach in my opinion.

Shoot, if Joe would just read my blog, he'd realize that I've been saying we're soft for years. And not - you're a punk soft, just that if we get hit in the mouth by a team with skill - we're gonna lose. Period. And come playoff time, we're gonna get hit in the mouth, but unlike the Rockets or Bulls last season - we're gonna say ... uh, ok - let's try this again in the next game vs. dig and fight. I think Joe is highlighting that fact. Now, if we don't do anything about that - at least, no one can say they didn't actively know that it was a problem. I've had problems in the past with even the knowledge that they understand what their problems are.

Woody and Joe are normally - hey, we won, so the defense and offense had to do something right OR we lost, so we played selfish, horrible, etc. It was normally pretty predictable regardless of what happened on the court. At least this time, no one said - well, we fought back to 8 points and it was a road game or it was the champs. That kind of excuse making is what makes me sick.

CoCo said...

Joe has to take a big chunk of the responsibility for the team being soft. He's our Kobe, our LeBron, our Wade. Kobe took it personally that Joe came out on fire and he lit his a** up. Joe needs to redirect some of his frustrations. I'm always begging for Joe to have those "there's no way in hell we're losing this game on my watch" games and every now and then he does. I'd like to see him have that mindset more than once every blue moon. He wants to be paid like Kobe, Bron and Wade then he needs to consistently show the ability to completely take over a game the way they do. Put the onus on himself which quite frankly he doesn't really do. Joe is the least criticized person on the team which is really funny because other superstars get the bulk of the criticism whether its their "fault" their team is struggling or not. When the Hawks struggle it's not about what Joe Johnson isn't doing, it's about what everyone else isn't doing. WE all know wins and losses are a team effort, but he's the max player on this team, yet he seems to be the one player it's off limits to say something negative about. We always preface it with some sort of excuse. The point of this long ass ramble is, step up! If you wanna be the man, be the damn man and take it upon yourself to right what is wrong. All that being said, I love Joe. lol

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

You know what - that's a great point. You have made me put Joe Johnson on the list with Al Horford. They are the least criticized while doing the least relative to what you expect. I expect Joe to be the damn man. I expect Al to produce...enough with the coach, the scheme, etc. Just do the damn thing and if you are being held back - go to Rick Sund and say that. That's what Jordan did to Doug Collins. Said it like Mike Singletary 'can't win titles with him, nope, can't do it' and poof, he was gone.

I'm on board now - we will ask Joe and Al to step their asses up. Yes, Marvin and Osh need to do more, but we don't know if they can do more. I'm certain that Joe can play like that 1st quarter more and I'm certain that Al can average 17 and 12. Now, I'm gonna expect it. Period. Thanks more NICE GUY ;)

Jesse said...

Wow, if I knew all I had to do was compain about JJ a little to get you to come around on Horford, I would have done that by now. Welcome aboard sir!

Haha, no really though, I agree completely with CoCo on this JJ item, and it's so true. It's kinda what I was trying to get at myself. JJ hasn't been this agressive with his post-game comments before, but now that every Hawks game has an impact on his future, whether directly or indirectly, and he suddenly becomes this strong vocal leader? Like I said, that's fine if it's legit, but he needs to look in that mirror every so often and realize that when you point fingers, sometimes there's a couple pointing right back at you.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Jesse, the JJ part is new. My desire for Al Horford to stop just being a solid player and growing into a stud started early last year. I've been saying to everyone - I don't think he's as great as people tout him to be. I think it's great he's dependable and consistent, but I'd rather have the swings of Osh where I can see his sublime play mixed with head scratching bad play, so I know he has it in him, but Al's had only 3 truly dominant games in 2 years - and that just ain't gonna cut it.

Jesse said...

Well, now your statements are flipping back and forth on if you think he can be a 15 and 10 guy or not while simultaneously adjusting the bar for where you think his ceiling is. First you said he had shown you nothing to indicate that he could be that or more, at which point I listed many games where Horford very clearly performed at a 15/10 clip with close to ten separate occassions in last year alone where he pushed nearly 20/12, give or take a few.

In your comment above you just stated "I'm certain that Al can average 17 and 12" but now you either don't or you are changing exactly what you expect from him. You say dominant, but where's your definition of dominant? Is it simply a set number like 20/10, or maybe 25/15? Or is it that you are wanting him to be something he can't be in this sytem, which is the focal point and to just take over games constantly?

If it's the latter of the two, then your expectation are completely unrealistic because we have too much talent and skill on this team for any one player to be it every single game. A few years ago that would have been a reasonable expectation from say JJ or even Josh Smith because that's all we had, but now we have many talents that could easily get hot for a night and be the spear tip for our offense. There's only so much ball to go around and only so many possessions to score in and every night we could have a different dominant player.

So, I'm just trying to figure out what exactly you want or expect from Horford because frankly you got me confused man.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Jesse, I'll keep it short. First, if I said NEVER SHOWING ANYTHING - that would be a gross overstatement - I have said I don't see it on the court, but that I think he has potential. Now, a better way of saying it was I don't think his production hasn't matched up to the hype about his game and his potential. And maybe it won't ever do it or maybe it's the Hawks system.

So, yes, I flipped a little based on CC's post. I'm tired of dumbing down my expectations. Just perform and shut up. I think that if he is who they say he is - he can pull down 17 and 12 and I'm not gonna make any more excuses about why it's not happening.

Yes, I got all that scheme and shots to go around stuff and it factors in, but I'm not saying that everyone is gonna break out. Bibby can't score as much, Marvin isn't gonna do it. So, I think that 17 and 12 for a dominant, 'we think he's an All-Star center in the East..Rick Sund's words' center isn't too much to ask. That's all. Do I think it's possible? Yes. Do I think it's probable based solely on what I've seen from Al (forgetting everything else)? No. But I'd like to be wrong and see it...

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thirdfalcon said...

You have to admot that the Hawks have been giving trying to make Horford a bigger part of the offense so far this season.

Horford has averaged 12 spg so far hitting 6 pg. Not a great sign for people that think he can be dominant on the blocks considering a a good chunk of his shots are still putbacks and easy dunks.

Plus I've watched all of those games, and not once have I seen a play that made me think he can be that kind of scorer. He is still very good but Kevin McHale he isn't.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, for the first time, we agree 100% on something, though I think Horford can reach that 17pt level if he was coached to run the floor continually to beat the slower centers in the league. Sorta like Shawn Marion was used in Phoenix. Basically, Al or Josh or both could be used as he was, which was run the floor for 12-14 of those points and then hit the boards and get 4-6 pts a game on putbacks.

That would be fine by me. In fact, tonight's game vs. the Blazers is what i want to see from Josh every game. It isn't perfect basketball - it's active basketball.