Listen, we're trying to come up with new things to say about the Hawks and we will. Upcoming - a mea culpa to Mike Woodson, Josh Smith, and Rick Sund. How's that for Str8Talk? Let's get to it...
Game Recap - Hawks 105, Blazers 90
- We'll start with the superficial - there really isn't anything better than looking at women who come to big basketball games in Atlanta (and yes, I've been to games at Madison Square Garden, Staples Center/Forum, & Miami Arena - if you have a better venue for women watching...put it in the comments).
- Yes, many are fairweather, but when the building is full and the voices are loud - Philips is almost as electric as any place in the NBA..(and that's with the understanding that at its best - Golden State and the Knicks are the loudest fans you'll ever hear)
- To the basketball, aside from Michael Beasley (who looks like Josh Smith circa 2006 - talented, but not dialed in yet) & D Wade...is there ANYONE save Haslem that you'd want on your team? And with that answer, I'll just repeat - there's no reason that team should have pushed the Hawks to 7 games (via blowouts mind you).
- Can WE PLEASE give the ball to the guards after getting the rebound, Al & Josh? Pretty please! We like you filling the lanes and finishing the dunks, thank you!
- Our criticism of Mike Woodson's motivational capabilities is at an all-time low. There has yet to be a breakdown by this team that is typical of both this team or any championship level team.
- Also, our concern over whether the Hawks could possibly tune out the lame duck coach is extinguished. In fact, maybe we should give him a one year contract every season from here on out...
- Of course, that would come along with a built in reason to NEVER trust a young point guard with minutes with any consistency.
- As long as we're winning, we'll shut up about it, but seriously - say what you want about the Teague's ability over Law's, but track the comments and the minutes and Teague is trending almost exactly like Acie Law (save Law being injured). Point being - Woodson has proven me wrong about a few things, but not his ability to find minutes (even in blowouts) for young players.
- Josh Smith, you actually failed me last year when I touted you as our most talented player (with Joe as our best player) and well, now - I think I would like to re-institute my assessment that Josh is our most talented player and that he wants to be our best player. Let the friendly competition begin!
- Final observation - it looks like Woodson and Marvin (against all odds) read the blog b/c it sure looked like everything I've been saying about Marvin being better served on the offensive end to play with the reserves was true. We made a deal with Hoopinion to let him D up with the starters, so I'll cede to that for now, but I reserve the right to pull that back if his defense doesn't trump him looking like an offensive bump on a log.
- Only downside to this start is that this team is showing that they have the talent to be a serious factor in the Eastern Conference, which means - yes, there will be a slump and we'll have to see how we respond, but I will NOT accept ONE excuse (not injury, not lack of superstar, not even bad coach) for us not to make the 2nd round and giving a team hell in the postseason. The excuse train for why we can't lose by less than 10 in the postseason is OVER.
Starter Kudos/Smackdown -
* M. Williams - The experiment should continue - quick hooks for Crawford, return with the 2nd team and then, attack the basket and have plays run for you with the reserves. Worked like a charm.
* Josh Smith - Don't know what else to say other than - who thought that on a night when Joe goes for 30 and Josh shot his first 3 that he'd be the best player on the floor (in my opinion) and he'd shoot 6 for 16 to boot.
* M. Bibby - the bat it up in the air and Josh go get it oop was special. Maybe Ramon Sessions can't do that...
* J. Johnson - Actually, I thought this was Joe's best game. Not a ton of overdribbling, actually ran Joe off screens and bought him open looks all game...now, this is the way we want to see Joe be our Alpha dog! Not by quantity and volume, but by quality...
* A. Horford - The board work remains constant and the transition game was on point - if at some point, we can establish an inside game with regularity - I see big things for Al.
* J. Crawford - A Mike Woodson managed Jamal has good things written all over it (did I just say that?)
* J. Teague - A Mike Woodson managed Jeff Teague has Acie Law rookie campaign written all over it (uh, that's more like it).
* M. Evans - Nothing to mention here...
* Joe Smith - There was some lingering doubt as to what Joe Smith had to offer this team and we've seen glimpses, but watching Joe Smith on the defensive end when he's showing on the double team - it looks like a veteran who can show Josh and Marvin and even Bibby what other things that don't show up on a stat sheet that makes a difference on the defensive end.
* Z. Pachulia - Same old Zaza (and that's meant as a good thing)
* R. Morris - Nothing to see here other than the fact that I actually saw Randolph jump off the bench during the 2nd quarter run as if he was excited about the basketball game. First, NBA, ESPN (both Stein and Hollinger rankings) have us #1 and now this...
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Inactive
Again, we have been very hard on Woodson (deservedly so, I think), but we're not going to try to find holes that don't show up on the W column. Yes, we are concerned that Joe may work too many minutes (just wait for a slump) or that Jeff Teague won't see enough minutes to get him ready for the postseason, but if we can continue to rebound and play defense - all those complaints about the offensive philosophy and rotation and all that just go out the window.
So, let's take this time to say that Woodson deserves lots of credit in a contract year for his work. He's been quick with the hook for a struggling Marvin Williams and has even been heard saying that he has to trust the bench. There have been lots of things that history says we should expect from Woodson, but maybe the trust had to go both ways - with talent, coaching gets easier. It's true in fantasy football - I guess it's the same in the NBA. Let's take our hats off and hope that we don't jinx the good vibes.
Str8 Talk Love
We'll say it again - nothing is better than people watching at Philips Arena. Diverse, fun, not obnoxious (how could we be after the past 12 years?), and simply beautiful. Now, get on down to Philips to be a part of it. Good to see the celebs (Thrashers, Chris Tucker, etc) back in the building and now to the one thing that has slipped...
Dance Team/Game Ops update - Ok, as we sat with our friend and former dance team member Sasha (not her real name) - we are finally of the mindset that the Hawks Dance Team is one of the worst in the league. Sorry, but that's just unacceptable. I mean it's bad enough that Sky Hawk is missing more dunks than ever (yes, it's a new Sky Hawk) and some of the games are becoming tired and old and not as fun, but my goodness - the best thing you can do is just pick some hot dancers. Is that that hard? If it is, don't worry about HOT - just make sure you find some women who can DANCE...I'm talking flat out rock it, don't stop it dancers. Too often, these girls aren't working hard enough to make anyone think they are dancing or even know the routine and it's depressing me as a guy who has spent significant time in Atlanta's finest entertainment venues and have seen some of the most innovative dancers in the USA. Go recruit some girls from the many dance studios and figure out how to get them on the team. Forget all those auditions since that's not working...go FIND some dancers!!! Please...
Shout Outs - Will, all the folks in row U, and to the Hawks for an entertaining night out...
Final Notes - One more game in the home stand and then a Paul-less Hornets - let's go get 12-2, please!!!
Thanks for not making my 53-29 prediction look crazy! Could that be good enough for first in the Southeast with Orlando's injury woes, let's see!