Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Game Reverb - Hawks @ Mavs

My friends,

Yes - we are finally on the job and have watched the Hawks victory over the Mavs 80-75. I know you were waiting to see what we think about the victory...so here it goes...
  • Joe Johnson decided that he wanted this game and he delivered. BIG-TIME. Still not really doing it in the context of an offense, which concerns us greatly come playoff time when better defenses come to the table, but it's good to see JJ get nasty on 'em
  • Speaking of playoffs, that was the definition of a playoff victory. Shots not falling, rebounding and defense at a premium, key bench contributions, and gutting out a victory when everything isn't working on the road after a terrible loss. Give credit to the players and Coach Woodson (I think I saw a timeout to settle the team a time or two even)!!!
  • Still would love to see Teague get more of a chance to change the pace of the game when 2 of 3 guards are having bad nights. That said, Teague - you are going to have to be more aware of the bigs in order to keep your shot from being rejected as often as it does (though I can't single you out too much on a night when we had 14 shots rejected).
  • Joe Smith - you my friend may be a bigger acquisition for our playoff run than the more highly touted Jamal Crawford - you heard it here first.
  • Way to make a contribution Marvin - if you can't shoot, then yes - get those boards and lock down those players on defense.
  • Dirk - you are a stud...
Of course, this continues the debate on whether or not this is an elite team - are we the team that has defeated Boston, Portland twice, Denver, and Dallas on the road or loses to the Knicks, Bobcats, Hornets, and Pistons? To be elite, you have to beat the dregs of the league (or at the very least not be easily defeated by them), but you also have to defeat the best teams in the league, so we're still uncertain of where this team fits and whether or not - we have a chance at the division title and something better than the 4th seed in the East. Wins like this one certainly give one some measure of confidence that maybe the team is bound for bigger things this season.


thirdfalcon said...

Thanks for the concession, The only thing that I'd add is that the losses to Charlotte and New Orleans look a lot better now than they did when we lost them.

The Bobcats (Although they didn't have Jack yet) appear to be much better this year, and are likely to make the playoffs this year. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Larry Brown has made every team he's coached better save the Knicks. I see no reason to think that won't happen in Charlotte given his track record.

As for New Orleans, They have actually played pretty good ball without CP3. Not sure what to make of that, other than it makes me think they wanted to get Byron Scott fired, and were ready to play again after he left. Either way both teams are a respectable 9 and 11.

Obviously they are both games that we should have won, but then again it's not like we lost to the nets or anything as bad as that.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I'm not sure I'm conceding anything. We just simply shouldn't have lost. I watched both games and aside from Raja Bell going crazy to start the game - everything else was based on us not coming to the play basketball, not any ability or coaching effort.

So, my point is simply - if we want to be elite - we can't lose those games. If we want to be the team we were last year, we will take each good game and cancel it out with games like that one - even the Pistons will probably make the playoffs, but it doesn't make that game a decent loss. None of them are decent. Esp. when they ran us off the court...

Like I always say, it's Str8Talk - I'm not going to trash the Hawks or the coach just for the hell of it, so things I say can stay correct. I'm on the line all the time with calling it like I see it. I thought our win at Dallas was one of the 2 best wins based on the fact that it's the kind of victory we will need in the playoffs. There's nothing to get excited about when you beat Denver or Toronto at home when they don't show up, but a game where we aren't shooting well from outside and have to play defense and scrap for a victory - that was very encouraging.

thirdfalcon said...

was talking about you pointing out that Teague needs to work on not getting his shot blocked. I'm not declaring victory or anything as silly as that. I just appreciate that you pointed it out.

I basically agree with you on everything else, i was just pointing out that both those teams are not the doormats we (and I'm guessing the Hawks) thought they were. Hell even the Knicks have been playing pretty good ball recently.

But yeah we are better and absolutely should win those games.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@TF, I don't want it to be confused - sure, Teague should work on getting his shot over shot blockers. I still stand firmly on the fact that if Woodson is withholding minutes based on getting your shot blocked in ANY way, then I'm still saying that's ridiculous. That should not be a litmus test for whether or not Jeff gets PT. I mean his vs. the Mavs was 1 of 14 shots that were blocked - it happens and I fail to see how that matters in his development.

Now, turnovers, bad decisions in taking shots (I didn't think him going to the hole was a bad decision), lack of assists, and poorer defense than Bibby or Crawford would be the indicators for whether he gets 10 minutes a game.

Ron E. said...

Baseball and basketball have long seasons and you can't really judge how good a team is in those sports early on. We are now getting close to the point in the season where we can start making judgments -- perhaps around January 1. The Hawks look to be pretty much what we should have expected based on their offseason moves. They are the same team as last year with a better bench, decent improvements in the play of Horford and Smith, and regression by Marvin. In other words, still a team that will win in the high 40s or low 50s and be 4th or 5th in the conference with a likely 2nd round ceiling.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Ron e. Agree wholeheartedly - I think that's why I really want to see Jeff Teague playing b/c of the fact that we NEED him if we want to be elite this year. I'd say we need better guard play, better play from the Small Forwards (Marvin and Mo) to really consider a run past the 2nd round, so that's why I harp on the fact that I want Woodson to do something that would actually advance that cause.

Xavier said...

I think our ceiling is higher than a likely 2nd round playoff berth. I think we can reach the eastern conf. finals and we will get a better indication of the Hawks Dec. 29th and Dec. 30th. We are an improved team and we have closed the gap on Cleveland and Boston which no one thought that was possible w/ the additions of Shaq and Wallace. Now Orlando is a poor match up for our team at this point. And I still think Marvin will straighten things out and maybe close the gap w/ the Magic.
And as far as the "bad" losses by the Hawks, I'm fine w/ that beacause of the "good" wins. I know it's a trade off but these "good" wins are confidence builders for our team. ATL you even killed the Hawks last year based on the fact they beat the mediocre and losing teams and didn't beat winning teams. That kinda sounds like this year's Boston Celts.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, so what have you seen that says we can beat Boston, Orlando, or Cleveland in a 7 game series (one that we won't have home court advantage in). I'm not sure that we've closed any gaps.

Now, I've accounted for the fact that we can get better - Marvin can play better, Jeff can play better, Mo can play better, but that's about it. Even if that happens - the other teams have pieces that need to be integrated into their team's philosophies and yet, they all have better records than we do. So, they are all apt to get better as we get better. Those teams' ceiling are NBA title. Ours at best is Eastern Conf. Finals appearance. So, I'm not sure I agree with your assessment.

As for killing the Hawks, I don't kill my team. I talk about what I see. So, if there was a criticism, it's that I don't think our coach is good enough to prepare a team for a NBA title, so I don't think he's going to do anything to ensure that Teague, Evans, or Williams will get in the flow of this season. He'll just hope it happens. So, my assessment about them winning against average to bad teams and losing to good to excellent ones was simply about our style. Without a better offensive and defensive game plan, you can't beat elite teams in the playoffs. There are lots of teams you can defeat on talent alone, but not elite ones, so where I think our ceiling resides is with Mike Woodson, which is why I don't think we can get past the 2nd round. We're not beating those teams without Mike Woodson doing a better job as a coach for this team.

Xavier said...

Ok ATL...I can only go on what I have seen so far this season as a baseline. Reason being prior to the start of last season, the Magic was not even in the conversation of making it to at least the Eastern Conf. Finals. And I guarantee any Magic fan who would have said "we're getting to the Finals" would be considered a homer in the worst way. Now if management spent like Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando, we in turn would have better players to increase my feeling that our ceiling is the NBA Finals .

And as far as what I have seen, its more of what I haven't seen in Boston and Cleveland. For example, I haven't been impressed w/ Boston so far. Maybe they set the bar too high compared to the last 2 regular season starts but against teams with winning records they are not that much better IMO. I think as a whole, the team has regressed a little due to aging of theBig 3 plus Sheed. And I still don't think KG will be the KG before the knee injury and I also think KG will decline w/ 82 games and the playoff grind(That may be more of a hope). And to this point Sheed is nothing more than a 6-11 3pt shooter. If he starts rebounding I might would change my tune. Now so far in what I've seen in the Hawks, in 7 game series w/ Boston, I think our improvements in our bench(Crawford, Smith and Zaza), along w/ our teams' overall improvements based on our record vs. winning teams makes me think the East. Conf. is a realistic goal. And since when is that a bad goal if the overall goal is to win a championship if not this season then next? Our nucleus is still getting better right? Our window is not closing like Boston and or Cleveland(based on LeBron). And maybe Woody can't coach his team past the 2nd round, but I do know this is the most talented team he has coached and through 20 games they have shown to me this season there is a Big 4 in the East.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

I'll just say - I'm not sure what about 17-4 and the fact that they are getting better as the season goes along that is showing some sign of weakness for you, but I beg to differ on the Celtics - I think they will be #1 seed in the East if they stay healthy. Now, that doesn't mean they will win the East, but they will have the best record. Anyway, I don't see anything that says that they aren't very formidable and cut or two above us.