Thursday, November 19, 2009

Game Recap - Heat @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

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

Overall Observations:
  • 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.
Str8 Butter Award - Another night where I SHOULD give Joe Johnson the award, but I can't in good conscience leave Josh's rebounding and all around domination (particularly in the 2nd quarter and on a cold shooting night) unrewarded. Josh simply looked like a superstar in the first half. It's goose bump worthy when you see Josh play his heart out...so, another Str8 Butter award for the kid.

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.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* 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

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

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!!!

Season Prediction

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!

17 comments:

emcee fleshy said...

"better venue for women watching"

Pacific Beach in San Diego, any Friday afternoon between July 4 and Labor day. Unless SDSU coeds wear bikinis to Philips, I win.

I got lasik mostly so I could wear sunglasses again. (Obviously, I'm betting that my wife doesn't read this blog)

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

guess I have to be more specific - we're talking arena venues, my friend. Get back to me when San Diego has a basketball team...

CoCo said...

And, I love Al running the break. Honestly I never cringe when he's pushing the ball up the floor. Al is a Point/Center! LOL

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

STOP IT!!! This big men running the break with guards filling the lane is ridiculous. We messed up 3 fast break opportunities on that alone. Give the ball to the guard and get the alley oop. That's all I want to see...

CoCo said...

Al is our Point/Center, get used to it Luv! LOL I agree they should give it to a guard, but our guards can finish just as well and they all are pretty good about not getting their ish blocked. It's highly entertaining when Al is leading the break for any number of reasons.

Xavier said...

ATL I never thought your attitude towards the Hawks could be so optimistic. Is this same ATL from July?

Xavier said...

And CoCo I have to disagree w/ you. Cause when Al is running the break you know Josh is thinking if he can do it so can I. Leave the PF/C led fast breaks to NBA2K10

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, as I said then, I didn't get why you guys were trying to put me in box regarding anything - my pessimism about certain things was based on the history. Str8Talk is about having a strong opinion, but never being too proud to admit when our assessment is wrong.

So, in July, I felt strongly about the fact that I didn't see where the defense, toughness, leadership, etc was going to come from. History didn't have a guide for Josh forgoing the jump shot, listening to Woody, Joe stepping up to be a VOCAL leader, or even Al/Josh deciding that every rebound would be fought for. And I based my thoughts on history.

But everything that I said I wanted to see - I've seen 'save Woodson's comment last night about hoping to be a top 4 seed and possibly win the division - I'd like my coach to say..uh, our goal is to be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and win our division', so anyway - this doesn't mean that Ramon Sessions would have made this team a bust or that DeJuan Blair would have been worse that Teague or anything else, but it does mean that my fears for the team at a high level were unfounded.

That said, it's early...I'd like the next test to be how we deal with adversity. The debacle in Charlotte - we dealt with it well. We even beat down Miami the way Orlando beat us down last year. I like that...let's see if we can sustain the effort level. I'm still uncertain of how this style plays when the postseason comes around, still pretty confident that Teague will get Law minutes all season, still pretty sure that Marvin is better served coming off the bench, but I've always said that if Josh plays like our best player - the sky is the limit for this team. And so far - that sky is #1 in the NBA. So, never fear - I'm always hoping for the best for the Hawks and as I said very emphatically all offseason - I HOPE I'M WRONG! So far, I was wrong on most fears and I'm happy about it.

thirdfalcon said...

Ironically (predictably?), I'm going to start looking at things like how we run our offense and other "small quibbles" much more now that it looks like we have a chance to be elite. The way I see that stuff becomes more important now compared to when we were in the 40 win also-ran zone.

So it looks like we can still have marathon 50 post arguments about stuff we have no control over! Teague's minutes may not be consistent, but I am : )

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, Welcome to the darkside!!! As you start to look at the small stuff, you may start to see what we were noticing for the 2 years. Now, your point is taken that if you didn't think we could be elite then, then why sweat the small stuff?

I buy that argument, but I guess I've always wanted to see Woodson preparing this team for days like this THEN. Maybe I was wrong about how you get there..I certainly hope so.

Jesse said...

The worst thing about being this good is that all the Woodson apologists will use the teams success as some form of vindication as if everything in the past five years never happened. I'll be glad to say I was wrong in my offseason assessments of this team and Coach Woodson, but that will never change the fact that leading up to this season there was zero evidence that Woodson could change.

I'll tell you what though, this might be the best damned thing to be wrong about, haha, because this team is smokin' hot!

CoCo said...

You're right Jesse, people are all of a sudden acting like any criticism of Coach Woodson was unfounded and that couldn't be further from the truth. Was he dealt the best hand during his first couple of years? No, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have done some things differently to perhaps get better results. I thought it was a bad idea for them to let him coach without a contract, but it looks like contract year's for coaches can be productive too. He's made strides, aside from his disdain for rookies.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I agree that he's doing better and I also agree that nothing excuses the other years. I still cringe when I hear him talking about how he trusts his players now.

I think that's just an awful admission (one we could all see) as a coach. You have to build trust both ways. And the good coaches - they trust their players to step up, even the 10th and 11th and 12th men when needed. I mean Popovich basically said - hey, I don't care about seeding - I need to get my stars rest and I need to get my bench ready for the postseason and if we have to lose games - we'll lose 'em, but I'm not playing to lose - I'm telling my team that you will perform and yes, we may lose some, but it'll be better in the long run that you get used to being counted on.

Can you say that the 9th - 12th players for the Hawks have ever really been counted on?

thirdfalcon said...

I'm not excusing Woodson for anything, I think he had a short leash on his players, and that's probably what should be done with a young team. I also think that he's probably grown as much as a coach over the years as we have grown as a team. But I honestly can't say that I've seen him do much that just appalled me as a basketball fan. I dunno, I guess my standards are lower or something

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I think the key in all of this is that the differences are in how we believe a team builds confidence.

So, you made the comment that a young team needs a short leash - well, it's not true that Woodson has had a short leash on a young team. Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Marvin, Al, Boris Diaw, etc all had long leashes and they developed BECAUSE of it. I think our complaint (the ones who think Woodson isn't good with young point guards) is that that standard isn't applied to them when they make mistakes.

Anyway, I do think this is a philosophy thing where you don't think the coach has that much impact on the trajectory of a team and I do. I think that Woodson has grown, but I also think there is more growing to do and I'm just along for the ride.

thirdfalcon said...

Just for the record, I was talking about a short leash as far as the type of plays run and how vanilla the offense was, more than letting players make mistakes and such.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

aha - well, we agree on that, then.