Saturday, December 19, 2009

Game Recap - Jazz @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

Soon, we'll stop dismissing the long term implications of games where good teams are blown out at home vs. our fair Hawks. To be sure, this game was a message to all teams (not just fair to poor ones) that if they do not come prepared to play - we will blow you out if you don't come to play for even one quarter. That's heady stuff for this Atlanta Hawks team and its fan base, but there were other things to be gleaned from this victory. Wanna hear about it, see below:

Game Recap - Hawks 96, Jazz 83

Overall Observations:
  • There really was one major takeaway should the trend continue. The bench play was not as stellar as it has been throughout the season. As some have opined, the bench only deserves to play when it plays opinion has always been that you can grow the confidence in a team and its bench in the amount of time you are willing to give them when they aren't playing well. The old Woodson would have put the starters back in in the 2nd quarter and possibly in the 4th quarter as the game got a little tighter (relative to the 32 pt lead at one point), but at no point did panic set in. Let's hope the takeaway was that - you can play your bench minutes and live with their mistakes, the same way you live with starter mistakes AND STILL WIN!!! (and win handily).
  • At this rate, we might get to the point where we should be concerned about Jamal Crawford's minutes - he's playing so much in garbage time that it's scaring me. Can we please sign another guard to play during all these blowouts? I'd feel a lot more comfortable with a Teague, random guard, Collins, Morris, Hunter lineup in garbage time.
  • Have we reached the point where we actually may be able to squeeze some usable minutes from Randolph Morris this season? I am almost comfortable with the thought that he can give us about 2-3 fouls vs. Shaq in the postseason. (Almost)
  • Reason #1 you can't take this victory too far - Deron Williams - 2pts; Carlos Boozer - 6 pts
  • Reason #2 you can't take this victory too far - This might be the first time Deron Williams and Chris Paul haven't made me hate seeing Marvin Williams on the basketball court.
  • What happened to the Paul Millsap that I stumped for during last season and the offseason? Sure, he's backing up a rejuvenated Boozer (how crazy does that adjective sound for Carlos!), but he still has always seem like a force to me and last night, not so much.
  • Who said that point guards can't learn something from shot blockers - I wish I could see the 'swat your shot' drill run in practice by Josh Smith because it certainly looks like Jeff Teague is watching it intently.
  • Am I the only person watching that game and saying -- so, let's see...emphasis on defense and rebounding, very active team on both ends, running almost exclusively during the biggest runs of the game..yes, we owe a big ol' mea culpa to one...Mr. Billy Knight.
  • And to take it a step further...uh, can we just go ahead and start running ALL the time - can't say that anyone looked to be sorry that there weren't any ISO plays run last night!
  • 19-6...nuff said!
Str8 Butter Award - Josh Smith - yes, you are the man. Sometimes, there's something called - your team got punked and essentially that's what happened with Josh. He basically punked the Jazz. Both teams didn't start out too well, but ours was based on just missing shots (it happens), but the Jazz's woes came from one player just saying - NOT TODAY!! That plus no jump shots plus no serious ref complaining (seriously, Josh - put the Rasheed Wallace DVD down) equals not only an All Star bid, but also a DPOY bid AND a shot at an ALL-NBA slot. I mean many power forwards outside of Nowitski and Duncan really are playing better than Josh is right now...

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - Didn't like what we had to say about you being a member of the second team, huh...well, just remember that most of your first chance buckets came when you were running with the second team
* Josh Smith - Can't be more excited about seeing our most talented player challenge to be our best player...
* M. Bibby - Was that a little bit of defense? Maybe this is the chosen season...
* J. Johnson - Still having problems with shooting from 3pt range, but if 9 and 7 come along with it - we'll live.
* A. Horford - There really isn't a complaint that can be made with Al's game right now - that little jump shot is making it do what it do, baby. And I'd be the guy to make the complaint..

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - We'll simply say - Jamal, you get enough shots in contested games, can you turn off shot at will Jamal in garbage time. The young fellas want to eat too.
* J. Teague - So that folks don't think I'm a homer - this was not Teague's best game. He didn't shoot that well and there were some questionable decisions when running the offense, but that doesn't really matter in a blowout. What does matter is that he stayed on the court and was learning through his play. Now, there's some tape to go over, Woody. Use it and send him back out there tonight esp. when at worst - you got a good defensive effort out of him. That's what you said you want to see, right?
* M. Evans - Of course, I praise you Mo and you go lay an egg. Not only that - you know that garbage time is Maurice Evans shoot 'em up time and yet, you defer to Jamal. Don't DO IT! You still have a starting job to claim, my brother.
* Joe Smith - DNP
* Z. Pachulia - Those might have been the quietest 15 minutes from Zaza we'll see all season.
* R. Morris - Seriously, we are entering into a time when we might be able to project useful postseason minutes. What were the Vegas odds on that this offseason?
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Well, if the emphasis is getting Hunter minutes and the way we do it is via blowouts...that's all perfect for me.

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Straight up as a guy who has railed on Mike Woodson for 2 seasons - I have no complaint with him right now. Not one bit - I'd like to see how adversity changes his coaching, but short of panicking and running back to old bad decision making - I'll say it here - he's doing the best coaching job of any coach in the NBA right now. Not only that - I'll also say very clearly - I was WRONG about our offseason. I was never really enamored of it - though Sessions and Blair would fit this team much better. Well, short of someone coming out and saying that Joe Smith's veteran leadership has more to do with our start to the season, there's something to be said for all the offseason moves and how dangerous the Hawks can be in the postseason.

So, to Sund and Woodson, my, don't make me retract it. Let's Go Hawks!!!

Str8 Talk Love

No Love Today!

Dance Team/Game Ops update - N/A

Shout Outs - N/A

Final Notes - 6 game win streak, so let's move to the next test...will we come back to Philips Arena with a winning road record and momentum in time to play the Cleveland Cavaliers....

Season Prediction

First place in the division is back in play...but we're going to not take it too far just yet - 54-28! But give us a 3-1 road trip and we'll have to start reconsidering EVERY scenario we thought possible for the Hawks


thirdfalcon said...

you know, you can keep saying this victories don't mean as much because the other teams best players had bad games, but it's happened enough times now that it is becoming a pattern.

I think it's time to stop dissmissing this as a fluke and start crediting the Hawks for taking away the other teams best option.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

well, as usual - you are always a few steps ahead of me...sorry, but 25 games are not going to make me jump to quick conclusions. So, I've said it's encouraging and I've even said - hey, Rick Sund and Mike Woodson - I'm sorry, but I'm not going to take a few games and proclaim that we turned into a 60 win team. Last season, the Hawks came out the gates very hot, then cooled down throughout the year until they flamed out.

I'm not predicting that for this team, but I think we'll come back to the mean with regards to blowing out teams every single night. No team can count on that. So, I'll judge our 'pattern' by what we do vs. the Cavs, Magic, and Celtics in upcoming games. This is a marathon not a sprint. We are in uncharted territory here, so I'm going to be measured about what I think we are capable of. There are still steps to be taken - winning vs. elite teams on the road and winning in the postseason vs. equal talent are areas that I think are still in question.

But I'm excited about our prospects. It's not a pessimistic feeling, just that with Str8Talk - I need to see things before I declare them. So, I need to see Woodson make adjustments if we hit a slump. I need to see us run more frequently or see him trust the bench when we're actually losing. All those things are still up in the air...

thirdfalcon said...

Hold on there, it's you who is ahead of me. I'm not talking about your prediction. Just that some very good players have had very bad games against us, and you tend to dismiss that as a fluke.

Williams wasn't a factor in the Jazz game. I'm not sure that that is all just luck, is all. He's not a point guard that is a star because he's quick. He's certainly not slow, but he makes his money because he's strong and can finish in traffic, in addition to his floor vision, handles, etc. He's definitely more Chauncy Billups than Tony Parker, and we have had success defending that type of guard.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, ok, I misunderstood your original premise, but I think you missed mine. I haven't dismissed anything, but I think I have said that the poor production of many stars this season vs. us has less to do with our defensive prowess and more to do with the fact that the team was blown out so thoroughly because the team didn't show up, so they didn't even play.

Chris Bosh, D. Williams, Boozer, Derrick Rose's first game, etc were all games where no one came to play, so how would you determine how well our defense would be if they did. So, I do tend to dismiss performances where the guy wasn't even on the floor. As an example, how many games this season would it look like Joe Johnson was having the worst game imaginable save for the fact that he had a great 3rd or 4th quarter to make the stats and his game respectable. Well, these players aren't getting that chance to have the 'make up' quarter b/c when you're down 30 - there's nothing to determine.

So, I hear you, but I'd say that we've shut teams down, but I'm not sure I'm ready to say we've shut best options down yet.