Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hawks @ Knicks - 1/28/09

Ok, again - I hate to feel like a soothsayer, but for those who don't frequent the blog - here's what I think sums up the night (and all but one are time worn and repeated bullet points):

1. Free Throw Shooting - we noted on Monday that our free throw shooting sucks at the order of losing about 3-4 points a game to the average team. Well, tonight - it was on the order of 10 pts and that's just unacceptable. And as the Blog Nation has noted - we can't even hit technical free throws. 15 missed free throws is what I'd expect in a youth league...And to respond to Josh's statement in the post game interview - IT DOES MATTER ABOUT THE FREE THROWS!!!!! To say that it doesn't is just a cowardly way of saying - I wasn't to blame. No, you were absolutely a MAJOR reason we didn't win tonight. A better answer would be - I need to concentrate on my free throw shooting more, so I am not getting in the way of helping us win games on the road.
2. Ride The Hot Hand - The hot hands tonight were Flip, Marvin, and Josh. Now, Flip and Marvin didn't shoot much in the 4th quarter. I was expecting plays to be run for them until the shots stopped falling. I'm not even sure why Mike Bibby even was put back on the court. Bottom line, when you have players scoring - let them SHOOT! Run plays for them. I would say the same about Josh, but he had his chances at the free throw line and he blew them, which led him back to the perimeter where the law of averages brought him back to earth.
3. Al Horford - Maybe he's more critical than I ever imagined b/c we look awful right now.
4. Coaching - The bench is not being utilized outside of Flip Murray and when a player is killing you or an offensive strategy isn't working - where is the change? Personally, if I'm the coach - I'm breaking boards, throwing chairs, something to fire guys up. I'd even be partially encouraged if I thought Mike Woodson even understood what was happening with the team - his post game analysis of why we lost as 'we're not making shots and not making free throws' is BUNK. When the reporter asked if it's fatigue, to summarily dismiss it just shows what we're dealing with. To the naked eye, it sure looks like they are tired. The stats say they are playing the most minutes of any duo in the league. So, MAYBE we can get some other players to give us a spark - maybe...Acie, Gardner, someone...oh, nevermind.

Final Note - I think I finally understand why a guy would refuse to go into a basketball game. I always thought it was crazy to not just do what the coach tells you to do, but come on - you're short handed and you don't get the call for weeks on end and every once in a while with 50 seconds left and the game out of reach - you are asked to come and finish up as if that's some kind of reward. It's not like those 50 seconds are going to keep your players fresh or prevent an injury. So, as far as I'm concerned - Screw You Coach. Now, if you're Morris or West or Hunter - you're stealing money anyway and are fortunate to escape some of this recession. But if I'm Solomon or Acie, I'm looking at my coach like - sorry, Coach, but to hell with going into the game for 50 seconds.

Well, it's time for a prediction update...and my last prediction was 45-37 after flirting with 50-32 for some part of the year. I'm going back down to 44-38. I hate to be pessimistic, but this looks like the 2007-08 Hawks. Didn't I say that I didn't want 2008 to end...short of watching President Obama take office, this year hasn't been kind and with our kryptonite (aka the New Jersey Nets) coming to town at that. Let's hope my last trip to Philips for a few weeks will be a fruitful one.

A Non-Hawks Blog

I wanted to write something that wasn't about the Hawks for a change and I found this blurb about Stephon Marbury. I'll just start by saying that I went to school with Stephon Marbury and the few times I met him - he was a cool cat, but clearly not much for school or a place like Georgia Tech. Atlanta - YES. GT - Not so much. He's done much to destroy his reputation and standing despite immense talent, but it wouldn't be Str8 Talk if I didn't give the guy credit for one thing and that's his goal of building a brand of clothing and footwear that's affordable. While you may believe him to be crazy, you can't call his desire to provide inexpensive, yet stylish gear for our youth as ridiculous. In fact, it's exactly this kind of social consciousness that we want from our athletes. Now, he does lose points for succumbing to the flesh, the money, and the selfishness, but I want to be fair in saying that that's not all Marbury is about and the article below speaks to it. So, for this particular act - you get this week's Str8 Butter Award (since no Hawks deserve it so far this week).

*NBA star Stephon Marbury has recruited rapper Bow Wow to help develop a new line of clothing and footwear for the athlete's Starbury brand, which was launched with the goal of keeping prices reasonably low, reports Allhiphop.com.

Bow Wow says both consumers and designers have essential fiscal responsibilities in light of the current economic recession.

"I think families should have a real choice," Bow Wow told AllHipHop.com. "I want my fans to be able to wear nice shoes and clothing and to also have money in the bank. The smart consumer can have both."

Starbury CEO Marbury echoes that philosophy, and is optimistic the upcoming line can help change the traditional consumer stance of more money equaling better quality.

"At Starbury, consumers do not have to choose between fashion, style, quality, and affordability," Marbury told AllHipHop.com. "They get all four."

The new Starbury line is set to debut in November.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hawks @ Heat - 1/26/09

It stands to reason that as soon as I get back to wanting to do my game recaps old school - the Hawks decide to play old school (as in 99 - pre-Bibby), so I refuse to put the effort into this blog that I normally would. Now, I'm sorry to disappoint the 1.7 people who follow this blog, but it is what it is.

I will point out the 2 things that I saw that I haven't seen reported much anywhere today (or during the season for that matter). The Joe Johnson 4th quarter charade of an offense has been well reported as has the 'we didn't have energy, effort, (enter another synonym here). It's curious that at the Suns post game press conference - Coach Woodson said he liked how we are playing and the last night's quote was 'I don't like how we're playing'. Maybe we need a reporter to probe that further to make sure we aren't missing something in the translation, but since the Magic games - I haven't been excited about anything we've done offensively or defensively. The fact that we won games was because those teams sucked more than we did, but I'm unsure of what he saw in 24 hours that made him go from liking our play and blaming the loss on shots not falling vs. tonight. (Note: looks like this blog is turning out to be something - yay for the 1.7)

Ok, so to my 2 things:
1. The Hawks are the 3rd worst free throw shooting team in the league at around 70%. Last night they shot 24-34 which is 70.6% and that was brought up significantly at the end of the game when we went 11 for 12 (meaning we started out 13-22 from the line.) The best free throw shooting team comes in at 80%. That's 3 free points a game if you're shooting about 30 free throws a game - we just give away. Not to mention the fact that we again missed a free throw given for a technical. I hear about free throw shooting all the time in college, but not the pros. I'm not sure why, but if Joe missing a free throw in the clutch against Boston was an indicator or watching us consistently miss free throws all season isn't being discussed by Coach Woodson - it should be. Growing up, I could hit 7 of 10 free throws consistently with an hour's practice a month. If this is what you do for a living...(I shouldn't have to complete this sentence)

2. Forget our terrible offensive game plan - I've been saying that for years and it doesn't look like it's changing, so I just have come to live with it. What I can't come to live with is players not finishing at the rim. I remember when I was playing on a 8 ft rim as a kid - I couldn't miss a layup, a dunk, etc in the neighborhood and I was only 130 lbs. Last night, it felt like a combination of Martin's Dragonfly Jones and Otis The Security Guard were blocking our path to the goal (I could hear them saying "I'ma take ya here and I'ma take ya there, young punks" - man, how I miss those first seasons of Martin) as they swatted 12 shots - at least 10 at the cup. I've long chided Marvin Williams on his inability to make shots at the rim and thankfully he's taken that challenge seriously and has increased his And 1 rate this year, but everyone else missed the memo. Joe has taken to missing at least 3-4 layups at the rim a game over the last 6 weeks. Bibby's missed layup against the Magic was painful. I know these things happen, but they've been happening with increased frequency lately in a way that as a fan I can't remember.

Why do I bring these things up? B/c both seem to have to do with concentration and focus. I can accept a bad shooting night, but let's be fair - the Heat were AWFUL last night (save D-Wade), so maybe if we hit half of those bunnies and get back our 3 free throws - we're losing by 4 pts not 16. And if we're down by 4, maybe we're in the game and the Heat choke down the stretch. Better yet, maybe we don't look like the 7th seed instead of the 4th seed.

Anyway, here's when I just rant and provide some thoughts - you can call them Deep Thoughts by Hawk Handy:

1. Big up to Solomon Jones and Flip Murray on back to back productive outings. I would get excited about Solo, but as I said - he's just a Horford sighting away from a DNP. So, any confidence gained will be squashed shortly. Same for Acie - not even going to muster a thought that he's not going to be back to DNP status as soon as Horford is back in the rotation regardless of how tired and bad our backcourt looked last night.
2. It wasn't lost on me that I watched 11 Heat players play vs. the Hawks...sigh - how nice would minute distribution be in Hawk-land. Seeing if Gardner can shoot on a night when no one save Flip Murray is making shots (oh, right - he was inactive last night) would have been a revelation.
3. Anyway, here's a novel thought - can we send players to the D League? Is there any reason why we don't send Randolph Morris, Othello Hunter, Acie Law, and Gardner to the D League so they can PLAY? I'd rather see that and bring 'em up when you plan to use them than do what we're doing now.
4. Can we get Mario West in during those - 'we didn't come out with energy' quarters? Why have an energy/defensive guy unless you plan to use him when we don't have energy or when we aren't playing defense (on say...D-Wade)?
5. Why am I still writing this blog entry? It's time to get to work...Deuces!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blogger Q & A with GM Rick Sund

In the clearest sign that there is a departure from the Billy Knight era, GM Rick Sund took about 30 minutes of his time prior to the Hawks/Suns game to talk with the Atlanta Hawks Blog Nation. What was a Part Introduction/part Q & A was a very informative look at the inner workings of the man who has the now enviable position of elevating the team from potential 4 seed to potential title contender.


It's from that prism that we gleaned some very interesting points and are still wondering on others:


Interesting points first:

1. GM Sund was a very gracious and open guy. You ask a question - you get an answer. Since we are Hawks Str8 Talk, we like that. Might not like all of the answers, but we like it. We like off the record quotes even more. Can't tell you what they were, but we do like feeling like - he knows what he can and can't say, while wanting to be clear that if you can read btw the lines - you'll find your answer.

2. To some answers, Josh Childress...nothing could be gleaned regarding this situation. The standard answer was simply - he's in the same situation with us this offseason as last. Here's hoping that with a different result - either sign and trade or matching an offer.

3. There was clarity around the Flip Murray signing. While most thought he was simply a shooting guard, he was brought in to be a backup point and shooting guard. Sund said he likes the upside of 70% of the team and included Law in that mix, but did not seem to be worried about Law's time on the bench.

4. GM Sund was also not as certain about our foray to the playoffs, but did mention that the goals for the team - to have a winning record while making the playoffs. To win 25 games at home at a minimum (though hoping for 30). Those were the bench marks.

5. Barring something spectacular, the Hawks will not be making any moves to improve the team. That was made pretty clear. The note that team chemistry is probably the #1 thing for this team right now and he's not looking to change the mix anytime soon.

6. There was also no clarity on the re-signing of Mike Bibby, but it was noted that Bibby is having a great year and we'll see what happens when the season is over. (My read: Bibby being re-signed is probably mutually beneficial - at the right price).

7. Sund loves Al Horford as a center, not a power forward. He looks at him as one of the top 3 and a potential All Star Center for us.


Still wondering:

1. It wasn't clear whether he believes this team can make a deep run into the postseason.

2. It wasn't clear if he believes the post and backup point guard situations could be improved.

3. It wasn't clear how long this group could be together without competing for a NBA title.

4. It wasn't clear if Acie Law is the point guard of the future.


Overall:

It was a great opportunity to see what the powers that be think about the squad and with the season we're having - it's hard to complain with the front office's choices (sans letting Childress get away for nothing and possibly Woodson's return - though he had a plausible answer for that, which was that he felt that based on the playoff run that Woody deserved a chance with a healthy point guard and team to see how far he could take the team.) Sund explained that he's taken steps to take a mix of old and new to keep some continuity while adding his stamp on the team and its success. To date, it's hard to argue the results as much as the Blog Nation (and traditional media might). Let's hope that at 50--32 we can toast to a season well played and home court advantage in the playoffs.


Go Hawks!!!!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Suns @ Hawks - 1/25/09

Preamble Ramble

I felt it time to go back to the old school (actually 2008) version of my blog tonight in honor of Blog Night. Let me start with a big shout for our host Micah Hart. I appreciate the invite and everything you do for the Hawks (and the Blog Nation). That said, my track record with sitting in suites and us winning is low, so I might have to skip Blog Night if it results in losing...

Game Recap - Suns 104, Hawks 99

Str8 Butter Award - Again, in a loss - I find myself trying to debate whether to give the Str8 Butter Award to Josh Smith for his DND (Deez Nutz Dunk) on Steve Nash or the impressive play of Solomon Jones. B/c Josh melted down in the last 5 minutes of the game - we're going to go with Solomon (if for no other reason than we'll probably see Solomon back on the bench with DNPs as soon as Al comes back).

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* Williams - Well, I wanted Marvin to be the Hawks midseason MVP and now, I'm feeling like he is begging me to revive my Marvin as SuperSub mantra from earlier this season. He wasn't bad tonight, but I definitely think that Marvin as the scorer off the bench to give Flip a reason/option not to shoot every shot he possibly can.
* Smith - For 43 minutes, Josh Smith was the guy we want him to be. Shooting inside 15 ft, making an effort on the boards, on the defensive end (albeit with a few jumpers and turnovers that we can accept), but then down the stretch - more of the bad Josh...dribbling too much, not realizing that he's open b/c he's not a good jump shooter, and so on. I definitely wish I could have spent this time talking about the DND and the DND alone, but we lost, so here we have - good Josh and bad Josh
* Pachulia - 2 fouls and bye, bye ZaZa. Obviously, having to guard Shaq will do that, so I'm not sure what to say about ZaZa other than to say - he didn't miss a shot, got some boards, didn't do much bad other than just foul. Sure wish we could have seen more of him in the 2nd half.
* Bibby - Awful is what we call this...so awful that you wish we could have seen Acie in some spurts to go with Flip, but man...awful.
* Johnson - Awful shooting night. So, when your star is having an awful shooting night. What is the right call down the stretch? To get away from your offense that was scoring against a poor defensive team and to just give it to awful shooting night guy and hope that he can generate points against a double team for the next 5 possessions or so. Let's see - oh, yeah...ball game - Suns 104, Hawks 99.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* Murray - First, let's go ahead and end the mystery. Flip was signed to be our backup point guard and shooting guard. I thought he was going to be our backup shooting guard. Our GM Rick Sund put that to rest, so while not knowing what it is about Acie that keeps him from playing - we did find out that he WILL be our backup PG and SG for the remainder of the season despite any semblance of point guard ability. That said, he had a good game tonight. We also lost.
* Jones - Solomon played great D and put up points while the game was in contention. Played early, late, and often. The kind of game that we can build off of, so kill me now b/c I KNOW he'll be back to DNPs when Al comes back. Not to say he's the answer, but it sure would be nice to see if he can bring this kind of effort in 8-10 minute bursts.
* Evans - Solid effort...not much else to say - which is probably how he wants it.
* Law - DNP. I'm sure the excuse is injury, but if your PG and SG suck at shooting the ball and you are short handed...maybe a look, maybe...possibly.
* West - DNP
* Morris - Came in and didn't do anything but foul which is what we brought him in to do. To not mess up anything on the offensive end and foul Shaq...job well done.
* Gardner - DNP
* Hunter - Actually got in at the end of the 1st half and looked LOST. Sure wish he had made that one shot he took - he might not see the rock with a game in contention again until 2010.

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

As I noted today, bald Mike Woodson winning at .600 clip. So, I'm trying to just work with that and stop complaining. The one thing GM Rick Sund said that made sense is that the locker room chemistry is good with the Hawks right now. I can't complain on that and we are winning games, but I was not happy to hear that Acie is probably not going to be a part of the rotation or that Flip was brought in to be backup PG/SG. Kinda just want to see adjustments when players are floundering...

And I'd trade all of that for something better than the Joe Johnson Down the Stretch Dribble Around Against the Double Team (particularly when you're shooting 5 for 20 and missing bunnies at the rack) 4 straight possessions with the game on the line. Maybe having your PG bring the ball up the court and run a play that has options vs. just hope Joe can figure it out...

Str8 Talk Love

I think much of my live blogging (if you call it that) had what was happening, so I'll just say that the Blog Night was fun. A good mix of talking to fans of the Hawks, talking to friends, Hawks staff, and seeing more of the Hawks than I'm accustomed to. That being said - the highlight was seeing the most beautiful creature to grace Philips Arena. I won't divulge the name, but know that we'll probably try to incorporate our quest to connect with said creature into the blog...stay tuned.

Season Prediction

We're at 26-17. I know I went south with the prediction when we got crushed at Orlando. It's been at 44-38 since then, so I'm going to go upwards to 47-35. Not quite 50 wins, but with our current injuries and injuries to come - I can't trust that we're going to play as well down the stretch. Let's hope I'm wrong. Go Hawks!!!!

Suns @ Hawks - Mid 3rd Quarter Update

Ok, it's not going well for the live blogging. Go to coco-vents.blogspot.com or hoopinionblog.com or humanhighlightblog.com or...oh, go find the rest yourself if you want to see real live blogging.

I'm too distracted to do a live blog. By what you say, well - the normal bevy of distractions (aka lovely ladies) was in play during halftime in the club level. I thought I had some wingmen from the Hawks Blog Nation, but they all left me so they didn't get to meet the lovely Holly and Renee, who informed me that they wanted to meet Shaq and get a cup of his sweat. (DISTURBING! See, isn't this better than a live blog about the Hawks?)

Anyway, I also got to say hello to my partner, Will Stephens, and a glimpse of the most beautiful creature I've seen at Philips Arena this year (we'll come back to this later). Anyway, the quarter is almost over and I'm still a little upset that we're letting these guys come back and take the lead. let me focus on the game - so no more forays downstairs.

Suns @ Hawks - End of Half

Well, I'm going say that I had a lot of insightful things to say for this part of the live blog, but then Josh Smith put his scrotum on Steve Nash's forehead on the way to what was the 2nd best dunk I've seen this year (first place is still held by Josh's dunk on Perkins against the Celtics).

Sooo, I'm not sure you can use scrotum in the same blog that has anything insightful, so I'm just going to say that we've taken the lead in a half where Othello Hunter and Randolph Morris both logged minutes. Hopefully, we can wish for an Acie Law sighting and it will happen. More work and things to be said in the 3rd quarter.

Suns @ Hawks - End of 1st Quarter

1st quarter ends - Suns 27, Hawks 26

Looks like Mo Evans and Solomon Jones decided that they would carry the Hawks on the defensive end while waiting for Joe to heat up. Solomon's defensive presence is making his push for the Str8 Butter Award.

I've been distracted by the beautiful and lovely Kat and Nakia, so this live blog has been interrupted, but for great reason. That being said, the Hawks are up by 3 with 5:48 in the 2nd quarter. As I'm sure my fans of the blog know, I can be easily moved from my fan-dom by the company of the opposite sex. The good thing is - we are still winning, so I have no reason to lash anyone for diverting my attention. I would love it if Joe could get his shooting mojo back - these 40% shooting nights can't last. Ohhh...a Randolph Morris sighting - I cringe at what Drew D has to say about this...back soon!!!!

Let's go Hawks

The First...

Live Blog of the Season. I'm not sure there will be more since I'm mostly going to be at the games, but I must say that I'm excited to join the Atlanta Hawks Blog Nation at Blog Night.

We just got through having a powwow with GM Rick Sund (details on that later) and after eating dinner - it's time for live blogging, so here's the first assessment of the game...

With 5:31 left in the first quarter - we officially look like crap. The only thing I can say positive is that I see Josh Smith down low putting in a little work - though he has had a charge and 2 TOs and one jump shot. That said, I heart 'Inside 15ft Josh Smith'. We're down 20-8 and look like we're playing on the road, so hopefully - Coco's good vibes and Bret's sunny Hawks disposition can turn this thing around (expect more of those witticisms throughout the game with the Hawk Blog Nation (feels good to say that we have a Hawks Blog Nation).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Break

My faithful readers...all 4.5 of you...I know that I haven't done a blog since the Clippers game. No Warriors, no Bulls, no Raptors...why? B/c the inauguration is bigger than me, you, or the Hawks. So, I'll try to sprinkle in my Hawks thoughts at the break and on pace for 50-32 (though I am on record as saying I still think we'll be short of that)

So, look out for my re-energized Post-Inauguration/Neighborhood Ball (yep, I was at both and so much more in between) Hawks Talk and definitely be on the look out for my first foray into real reporting on Blog Night (Jan. 25th)...all of the regular Hawks bloggers will be in the house, eating (drinking?), and being merry. Some surprises are in store, so let's see how it all pans out.

Also, congrats to Peachtree Hoops for being named the Atlanta Hawks blog du jour for TrueHoop. I would say I'd like to be in Bret's shoes, but then I'm not sure I'd be able to marry true analysis with the highs, lows, and tom foolery that ensues in and around Philips Arena, sooooo I'll just watch with pride from the sidelines...and start on my path to being an unnamed source for the Hawks. Maybe we can get a rumor started that leads us down the path of getting Larry Hughes out of Chicago (for say Flip and Acie - yeah, right?) or a big man (Milsap, are you with me?). Ok, back to my Obama-tized stupor and in MUCH need of a return home to Atlanta

Best & Hawks Luv!!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hawks @ Clippers - 1/14/09

As I completed my trip planning for both the inauguration and my annual ski trip (what recession - my unborn kids surely don't mind me spending their money...I'm just following the government's lead), I found that there was this game on, so I decided to watch it. A few things happened that I liked and a few that I disliked. Wanna hear it - here it go...

Note: All blogs over the next week will be spotty at best - Inauguration Rules The Roost, so if they are short or non-existent...check out real blog masters like Peachtree Hoops. (Bret, I'm sending you my 7.2 fans over the next week - let's talk about some profit sharing on the uptick in your ad rates over this period).

Game Recap - Hawks 97, Clippers 80

Things I Liked

1. And this is really 1, 2, and 3...Josh Smith made an effort to play INSIDE as an offensive and (somewhat) defensive player. The effort was worthy enough to ignore the occasional jump shot and trying to bring the ball up the court instead of the point guard. See, Josh - we don't ask much. Just play your offense from 15 ft in and I'm more than happy to ignore the things that are inexcusable when coupled with 20 ft jump shots we have at least 3-4 years of evidence that you are not proficient at. Have I mentioned before that Josh is my favorite Hawk since Dominique? If not, I'm saying it again. Not for you, but to convince myself that my favorite player is capable of being the dominant force I know he can be. The Clipper game was a start.

2. Acie Law IV in back to back games and making a small imprint. In these 5 minute spurts, I'm STILL trying to see what it is that makes this guy a semi-permanent fixture on the bench. He is not the savior, but he is a piece that I don't think will sink the ship if say...Mike Bibby gets hurt or traded or ...oh, signs somewhere else next year. Unless we think Claxton is the answer... (writing that messed up my day)

3. Joe Johnson making a semi-comeback from last night's game. Please find superstar Joe and re-connect him to the Hawks squad.

4. Flip Murray shooting well - I still can't understand his offensive strategy (which seems more like an exercise in ways for him to get up shots), but when it works - I don't complain (except in that in encourages it).

5. Random thought - I just love it when Coco comments on my blog. That doesn't have anything to do with this game. I just like dialoging with Coco (Bret too, but Bret doesn't have a cool name like Coco - oh, and he's not female).


Things I Didn't Liked

1. I just hate that I wrote Craig Claxton in this blog.

2. I also hate that Solomon Jones has not done much with his recent playing time, but I also disagree with Bret in this one respect - Solomon Jones is NOT the answer, but he could easily be useful over 5-10 minutes each game if he knew what he was in there to do, which is simply to play solid D (blocks and rebounds and not getting dunked on) to keep Horford, Pachulia, and Smith from foul trouble and to save their legs. I think you have to put some of his ineptness on the fact that he's not playing with those combinations and doesn't know what to do. Sorta like Acie - who is looking over his shoulder for the hook whether he does well or does poorly.

3. Speaking of Acie, what about that game said - Acie can't get any burn in the second half.

4. I've now officially gotten to the point that I get upset when Josh MAKES a jump shot b/c it will only encourage more. So, for all future non-under 5 second on shot clock jump shots by Josh - I will boo. For all under 5 second on shot clock jump shots, I will boo the person who passes him the ball if they had a reasonable alternative.

Season Prediction

You can't reasonably expect me to raise the prediction based on a win over the Clippers. Maybe the Warriors, but not the Clippers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hawks @ Suns - 1/13/09

And so it continues..I wasn't able to see the game due to a trip to see Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA (highly recommended - the contorsionists were worth the price of admission alone). As for the continuation of the 2009 slide, leave it to my Hawks (in the final 5 minutes I was able to see - damn DVR) to put a damper on my evening. I will only discuss my 5 minutes.

Game Recap - Sixers 107, Hawks 102

1. Hearing Nique talk about how we've come back from a 19 point deficit - I'm both upset that we're down 19 in the first quarter AGAIN!!!! and happy that we are fighting back on the road and are about to tie the game AGAIN!!! Then, I remember what this is a former Hawks trait - show that they are able to look horrible, then figure that they ought to play balls to the wall and come up short.

2. I watch with great admiration as the coach and PG for the Suns just take advantage of their obvious advantage - Shaquille O'Neal - and continue to play off of that advantage. Hmmm - how it would be awesome to watch the Hawks run, run, run since our obvious advantage is athleticism. Oh, and how do we give up 53% on FGs and 52.4% on 3pt %.

3. I watch us tie the game with glee, then throw something as I see a man in front of Steve Nash (great 3 pt shooter) yet watch him shoot a three without so much as a hand in his face. Yes, Shaq required some help, but wait until the ball gets dumped in before sagging.

4. I hate when Peachtree Hoops is thinking exactly what I'm thinking when Josh Smith finds himself open. Needless to say, I wrote 'game over' when the shot went up.

5. More on Josh Smith - Do these guys not understand the concept of SELF CHECK? At the playground, there are guys you will always leave open. You live with the shots they make because you know that 7 or 8 times out of 10 they will miss and if you play percentages - you will win. If you lose against SELF CHECK, you live with that. That's why Josh is open - b/c he's SELF CHECK!!!!! At the playground, you just accept it b/c everyone gets to be picked as a part of the 5. In the NBA, you tell SELF CHECK to stop shooting the damn ball or tell him to take the ball to the hoop (there was at least 6 feet of free space in front of Josh) and take a shot he actually can make. Final thought - the reason you accept SELF CHECK is because they do everything else. Kinda like Shaq and his free throws...soooo Josh you have to block shots, play D, have energy, work the post, grab boards or else - I'd rather have Mo Evans on the court at the end of the game.

6. Acie Law - damn me for missing Acie's 2nd quarter play! Damn Coach Woodson for letting Solo and Randolph get more minutes esp. on a night when our guards weren't playing well (save those two big 3s by Bibby in the 4th quarter).

Season Prediction

At 22-15, I'm fairly certain that we're going to end up 22-17 at the rate we're going. Mark it down as a 8 game losing streak if we lose to the Los Angeles Clippers. A new prediction comes as soon as I see us lose to the Clippers...until then, 44-38.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sixers @ Hawks - 1/11/09

I guess everyone thought I was kidding when I said - 2009 can't be better than 2008. Well, so far - I'm being proven too correct. Listening to the game on radio (is the NBA scared of going up against the NFL playoffs or what?) - the one thing I learned is: if you smack the Hawks in the mouth early, you can beat this team. So, now to the enumerated facts as I deem them...

Game Recap - Sixers 109, Hawks 94

1. How do you get embarrassed TWICE by Orlando, then come home, get some Chunky soup, and ...get embarrassed again at home by the Sixers? Yeah, I know the Sixers were coming in playing well, but sorry - but this is not about missing players (sorry Al), this is about effort.

2. When the commentators talk about there being NO energy for 3 quarters - there's a problem? Again, I'll just reiterate my pre-season concern and now my mid-season concern - coaching!!!! As I understand it, the coach is responsible for the playing style, rotations, in-game adjustments, and motivating the players to play their best. I'm going to reserve judgment on much of this since my thoughts are debatable based on our current record (though my thought is that with better coaching we'd actually be around 28-8 vs. our current 22-14 and a 6 game swing based on coaching alone is noteworthy in my book).

3. If a player starts the game 4-4 (2 from downtown), why not feed him? That's a shout out to Marvin Williams...who started strong and then...oh well!

4. Josh Smith - why am beginning to see what people were saying about you never being able to get it? The game is easy for you - run, run, run, dunk, dunk, dunk, block, block, block, rebound, give ball to PG, get back for dunk...what is missing from that - jump shots, trying to play PG, complaining about anything other than doing those things. What don't you get about that? I can't tell you how badly I want you to be a superstar, but I also can't tell you how disappointed I am to start believing that all those naysayers may have a point. The skill set is there - the b-ball IQ might not be. I know you're 23, but so is LeBron and you don't see him trying to play as if he's a power forward or a center. Play like a small forward/power forward hybrid who doesn't have handles and isn't Dirk Notwitski...ok, please? I have some Amare Stoudamire tapes to show you just what i'm talking about if you need them.

5. Acie Law - if you get a chance to play two games in a row...don't come in without defensive effort. Again, most of the Hawk Blog Nation are in your corner. I read your blog and you seem to realize that Coach doesn't have a rhyme or reason for why he won't play you, so make the decision btw fool and genius more obvious, ok? Esp. in a game where a team that gave Royal Ivey minutes beat us.

6. Looks like our friends at Peachtree Hoops were correct - our start was based on some crazy offensive production and that our defensive prowess was a figment of our imagination. If I see one more half of 60%+ shooting, I'm going to predict that the Arizona Cardinals will host the NFC Championship game next week...

Season Prediction

New Prediction - Yes, I went kamikaze on the prediction and I think today deserves another downturn...44-38! I just see too many things that don't lend well to a successful season. No low post presence (and no ATTEMPT to figure it out), too dependent on 3s, Josh Smith not playing as our 2nd best player all season, Al not playing better than Zaza Pachulia for most of the season, and no vocal, apparent veteran leadership (yes, that's directed at you - Joe, Mo, and Flip).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hawks @ Magic - 1/9/09

Preamble Ramble

The thing I love about blogs is that you don't have to wait for deadlines or any of that. It's 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. We're down by 35 pts and that's just by luck. It should be worse. So, let me say that I hate this nagging feeling I have about 2009. The last game we played like this Acie Law IV shined and it's happening again. Acie comes in and puts up points - isn't bad on defense, but I fully expect to see him with a DNP during the next game. Anyway, I promised to do an ol' school blog game recap, so here it goes, but it won't be long. If there was anything that showed up in what is absolutely by FAR our worse game of the season, it's the poster child game for our need for leadership. I've been screaming that we don't have it and today, it was apparent. In a game where you got embarassed at home, you come back and you put up a stinker - it's so bad, I'm not even waiting for half to do this. Is Zaza this important to the team?

Game Recap - Magic 100 something, Hawks less than that

Str8 Butter Award - In a first, we're going to give it to JJ Redick and the refs. I woke up to watch him rain 3s on our collective asses. Now, we definitely didn't get a favor from the refs who called every single thing imaginable (mark this game down in the Donaghy files) including the 'Delay of Game' T due to not having your shirt tucked in [Note: Really, ref - a quick 'tuck in your shirt or get a T' doesn't work anymore].

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* Williams - Let's see - you're not my midseason MVP right now.
* Smith - Uh, invisible in the first half..oh save getting smushed by D. Howard. Oh, and yep, got a technical
* Horford - INCREASINGLY not showing the talent everyone keeps saying he has. Turning into a Joe Smith type and that's not meant to be a good thing.
* Bibby - I'm not sure what he did to not get to play at all for about 10 minutes when we were in foul trouble, but he didn't make up for it when he was in.
* Johnson - Yep, you too - sucked majorly. Got a technical for complaining, but what about firing into your team's ass.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* Murray - Gave us nada.
* Pachulia - Probably glad that he's sick, cuz this game would have made him puke.
* Evans - Another bum game against his former team. Looks like there's a reason we were able to get Mo' after games like tonight.
* Law - Had a little fire and brim, but that's saying something considering the rest of the team's effort. I'd be more impressed if I didn't think that much of his fire comes from sitting on the damn bench for most of the season.
* Jones - Solo definitely is giving Brett more ammunition for his belief that you don't deserve PT.
* West - Let's see - if Mario gets 5-10 minutes in the first half, you can guess at how much we're down.
* Hunter - Again, when he plays in the first half, we're getting killed. Believe it.
* Morris - DNP
* Gardner - Inactive


Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

You can't possibly expect me to say something nice about Coach Woodson. T's, bad TO management, bad rotations, combinations, etc. Now, I give him credit for being forced to play other players, but I'm just gonna say - what is your job?. To find a way to focus the team and well, I can't remember when I've seen the Hawks play a worse first half. This wasn't a back to back - these fools have been resting all holidays at home and only played 2 games this week. What the hell else have you had to do other than get ready to play the Magic this week?

Str8 Talk Love

Love? Love? You're talking about LOVE! Next question (Jim Mora Sr - I thank you)

Season Prediction

I surely should have made my prediction yesterday b/c today I'm even more pessimistic about my Hawks. I had them at 51-31, but here's how bad it is - 45-37 is my new prediction. A 6 game drop...and definitely no shot at the division title and now we're going to fight for a 4 - 6 seed. Ugh! Just sickening...and no, I don't care what we do in the 2nd half.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Magic @ Hawks - 1/7/09

I think I've gotten to the point where I like to enumerate my points about the Hawks vs. my Game Recap template, but never fear - change is always the name of the game, so I'll go old school on Friday (note: can you go old school on a blog that is only 4 months old?)

Ok, here we go - the Hawks lost last night 106-102. I've read a few things and well, I don't think these folks are articulating it properly, so let me say it clearly. That was the WORST GAME WE'VE played all year. Now to the points on how I have come to this conclusion...

  1. I should have known it was going to be a bad night when our most consistent Hawk - Zaza Pachulia - was ill for the game. Leave it to Zaza to get some boards, make some energy plays, and foul Superman to death. Not to mention - Acie Law being MIA on a night when we were short handed (not that he was going to play, but I think having him on the bench would have been a less ominous sign).
  2. I should have known it was going to be a bad night when I'm sitting in a seat outside of the Club Level. Now, this was my fault since I got my ticket situation together late and therefore, I had a great seat, but was yelling from a different vantage point - I think my voice only matters in front of the team, not from behind.
  3. I should have known it was going to be a bad night b/c we couldn't make a free throw. To lend perspective, I've been able to make 7 of 10 free throws since I was 12. I've never been on a high school, AAU, college team. Simply intramurals, youth league, and playground. I can't for the life of me understand less than 75% for anyone under 6 ft 10 (for some reason that's the height where foul shooting goes to die).
  4. I should have known it was going to be a bad night b/c it's 2009, not 2008. I keep telling people that I lived a charmed life in 2008. I'm not sure what it was about going from 1999 to 2000, but since then every team I cheer for has taken a mighty fall from grace - the Hawks, the Dolphins, the Fighting Irish, the Hoosiers, the Yellow Jackets (save some college basketball flashes), but in 2008 - it was the inverse...college b-ball sucked, but the Hawks shined, the Dolphins shined, the Yellow Jackets shined in football...etc then 2009 hit, Hawks molly wooped, Dolphins start making turnovers, and on New Year's Eve - they felt like it was 2009 already and just gave up the nappy in the 2nd quarter. Point being...I'm ready for 2008 to come back.
  5. I knew it would be a bad night when I saw the crowd size for this SE division clash.
  6. The only thing that I can say was awesome was the quality of the ladies. When I say that there were some certifiable stunners in the crowd - I do not exaggerate. Not quantity, but absolute quality - I think it was probably the best per capita I've seen all year. And to that I say - Hawks you MUST KEEP WINNING!!!!!! My heart (and eyes) are depending on you guys.
Ok, enough of this rant and on to the astute analysis...no, Mike's layup wasn't the reason we lost, but damn...we've been clutch in the 4th quarter all season, so NOW we can't hit an open layup. The defender even gave up on it, so it wasn't even breathing that made that a miss. Anyway, let's stop with the defense and energy crap in the 4th quarter. We were still executing poorly in the 4th quarter as well. So, what's the reason for the comeback...the MAGIC SUCKED even worse in the 4th quarter. I'm channeling Peachtree Hoops when I say this, but if your team is playing below average, but the other team is playing absymal - you probably will make up ground. If anything, this game was a metaphor for the 2007 Hawks. Play poorly, no energy, miss free throws, etc then show that we actually have some kind of talent and get close, then look back and say - why didn't we play better, defend better, play with fire, do better with the strategy, rotation, etc. AFTER the freakin' game.

See, here's what baffles me - if you know 10 minutes after the game, that you aren't playing with energy, aren't focused, etc - why can't you see that DURING the game? I mean - I know I said wake up to the Hawks about 5 times in the first quarter, so during the post game - shouldn't someone be real and just say - look, this was a big game. The Magic called us out and said they were going to jump on us in the first quarter, which they did. And I punched Josh in the chest, hit Marvin, smacked Mike, yelled at Al within the first oh...8 minutes and said - let's get it going fellas. I didn't see any chalkboards break, no yelling, no nothing to let me know that they UNDERSTOOD that they were not ready to play ON THREE DAYS REST.

This is the leadership we're lacking. I'm positive that Michael Jordan would have said during, at halftime, etc ..hey, this is the best team in our division, they lead our division, we are at home - we are NOT going to be embarrassed. The crowd is sparse, dead, waiting to see what we're going to do - and someone is going to play hard. I will bust a Magic guard in the head to get some fire, I will drop kick you Al and Josh if I see JJ Redick score anything inside of 23 feet again. Now, maybe those things are happening and it's not proper NBA etiquette to air that dirty laundry, but dammit - someone send me an anonymous note b/c I promise you - I saw the 2007-2008 (and all the years before) Hawks last night. Those other losses - it was other reasons, but last night - we didn't come to play and we only got close b/c the OTHER team played even worse than we did. We shot as many terrible shots in the 4th as we did in the other 3 quarters, so save the 'we played with energy and defense' crap. We were outplayed, outcoached, out energyed yesterday and it made me sick.

Uh, I think I got it all out...now, I will NOT do a season prediction update b/c I'm fearful that by doing so - I'll over-exaggerate how badly I think we played and our future as a result, so I'll wait until Friday to see if we respond and if Zaza being out caused this to be a blip or something that could sustain itself. Sorry for the length, folks, but just be glad that I didn't send anything out last night.

Final Note: Look for our first live blog during Hawks Blog Night in a few weeks. It'll be my first time being able to hopefully knock heads with Bret, Jason, Drew, Coco, and the rest of the merry band of Hawks fans/bloggers. Can't wait to see how we make love, not war over our fair Hawks. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Last Minute Shots - Nets & Rockets Games

It's fitting that during a weekend where my Dolphins lost and the Falcons lost (a mixed bag to me), that the symmetry would lead itself to 2 Hawks games were they both are won on big end of game 3 pters. I won't harp on it since we won, but I do want to say - Josh, you have to get at least 6 rebounds each game - doesn't matter if they are big boards or not, just get 'em. Joe, if you ever get ripped on back to back plays with the game on the line - you promise to go to Mike Woodson and tell him that you refuse to do the 4th Quarter Joe Johnson figure something out in the clutch offense no matter what is called in the huddle for the remainder of the season. Ok, now to some analysis...

Game Recap: Nets 93, Hawks 91
Game Recap: Hawks 103, Rockets 100

Best Thing About This Back To Back: Acie and Solo's return to the basketball court. Now, I know that some bloggers disagree on Solo's usefulness and I certainly don't believe him to be the lynchpin to a title run, but I do see his involvement in the rotation as a critical indicator in Coach Woodson's ability to trust and develop a team while still winning games during a season. Coach Woodson must transition from 'win each game at all costs' to 'developing a team capable of a run' and part of that means you can't burn out your main players simply to get to the playoffs. We will make the playoffs. Players need rest, players need roles, and now's the time to prepare for that time.

Best Thing, Part 2 - To see us die by the sword, and then win by the sword. Awesome.

Worst Thing About the Games - While we should have put a foot on the Nets' throat, it was on the road. We aren't so far removed that we can't lose a 20pt lead, just like the Rockets and Mavs did against us in the Texas Road Trip of Death, so that's not the tragedy. The tragedy is not guarding Vince at all on the shot. Clearly, we shouldn't have even been UP at that point, so to not put a hand up just defies logic. That said, it was an impressive shot and comeback. Let's just hope we don't have to play them in the playoffs.

Worst Thing About the Games, Part 2 - Well, with no McGrady, no Artest, and no Williams - it shaped up to be a B league game and it had that feel. While watching the game from the Heineken suite - where we got no free Heines (booooo!), it was awesome to see Josh playing like a $58M man and Joe dishing like he's Chris Paul. That said, we still haven't figured out how to get back the Al Horford - we know and love and we DON'T know how to let effective players stay on the court. If Zaza and Acie are playing effectively, can we ride the wave, please? Again, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it's certainly wrenching to get affirmation that a player can be more useful than another (read: Zaza instead of Al) or that another is out to prove he deserves minutes (read: Acie) and see him not get enough.

Str8Talk Complaint of the Week: This departs from talking about the Hawks gameplay and to lob the complaint that is going to be sent to the Hawks staff. During the Cavs or Celtics game (I'll have to go back to figure out which one), I commented on a fight that occurred in the club section. As I was told (and partially saw), two big gentlemen ended up in a fight where they toppled and destroyed the dessert table. Now, it is ridiculous that grown men are fighting at a basketball game, but in a place where alcohol is served and diverse individuals connect - sh*& happens. Being that I've been going to Hawks games since I was 10 and I've never seen a fight before at a Hawks game, I'm going to make the assumption that we can expect our next fight in 2030. Which leads me to the Hawks organization...we've found three things that have occurred since this fight -

1. No more dessert table, which certainly is a negative. Cakes, brownies, coffee, and hot chocolate were served there and it would be nice to have them back.
2. Lanes were created. Listen, no one needs lanes for people to walk through - everyone makes it around pretty fine and it just gets in the way. I know they want to keep traffic moving, but a few ushers could do the trick it would seem.
3. And this is really the reason for the complaint - they decided to have everyone who was in the club section show their marked ticket AND a wrist band. The old method was either nothing at all or a handstamp when you left the club section. Obviously, I know that you can skirt either of the previous methods of entry into the club section. It is very easy to do and I respect the Hawks organization wanting to keep the club section devoid of anyone who isn't allowed into the club section, but any idea that has a line from the club section to sec. 112 to implement is a bad idea. Not only are fans missing the game, the wristband marker is just tacky. Particularly, when many of the fans are not leaving the club section until the game is over. I won't make an attempt here to provide alternate solutions, but I will say that this is an overreaction to ONE fight.

Now, I've heard that there are some complaints about the dynamics changing in the club section (i.e. there are more African Americans that we are accustomed to) and I will simply say - this is Atlanta. African Americans in this market can afford to buy seats in the club section and so - the dynamics aren't changing. Atlanta has been a mecca for African Americans for a few decades and in all my time as a Hawks fan - I've always seen the diversity of Atlanta in those stands. The same would and should be the case in the club, suites, and in the other areas of the arena. Please believe it. And with that, I'm off my soapbox....

Season Prediction

We're 22-11 and still trending toward 51-31. So, we'll stick with it. Let's get ready for the Magic home and home - which will go a long way toward a Southeast Division Title.