Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Game Recap - Hawks @ Cavs

Preamble Ramble

It's times like these when we have to say some of the most obvious things, some of the most obscure, and keep a balanced viewpoint at the same time. Very, very difficult times here at Blog Central. Obviously, it was a tough, tough loss. So, let's just get to it..

Game Recap - Cavs 106, Hawks 101

Overall Observations:

The Good Stuff
  • Mike Woodson found a way to stop the foul trouble that Shaq causes this team and his name is...wait for it - Jason Collins
  • Mike Woodson also took the timeouts he should have been taking in the fourth quarter of the last game and it was used to great effect to stop the momentum of the Cavs at home. Kudos!
  • Joe Johnson brought his A game tonight. There's a pro to that and a con - let's leave the pro here which is...the alpha male that the Hawks needed was on display in the form of its best player.
  • Bob Rathbun and Jamal Crawford donating money on behalf of those missed free throws to the Atlanta Hawks Foundation is a fantastic compromise.
  • In the first half, Mike Bibby's defensive liabilities are offset completely by his ability to make outside shots.
  • Overall, the Hawks showed fight on the road that they normally have not shown against elite competition. It bodes well for the future that when faced with adversity - the Hawks competed at a high level.
  • LeBron was celebrating his birthday and we thank him for the gifts that he gave us in the form of passing the ball when faced with the defense of Bibby, Crawford, and even Pachulia. Thanks, LBJ, for letting us share in your special day.
  • Anderson Varejeo being forced to take a 3 at that juncture in the game
The Bad Stuff
  • Anderson Varejeo hitting his first career 3pt shot on the same possession
  • We already knew that LeBron was going to get the calls because it was his b-day, he always gets calls, etc, but Hawks 14-15 from the free throw line and LeBron 14-16 is a little ridiculous.
  • We don't really give Josh many passes on the scowling and complaining to the refs, so we'll say - bad Josh for getting a technical minutes AFTER they let the first complaints pass, but also can say - we understand. You were hosed on offensive and defensive plays.
  • That said, if we don't give up those 2 free points on technicals - we are taking a much different shot to win the game (we hope)
  • Standing around while dribbling down the shot clock when you are 3 down isn't our idea of a good offensive set. Watch that last possession and tell me if Marvin, Jamal, or Mike moved one iota to set a screen or do ANYTHING to create an open look.
  • The refs...it needed to be said again.
  • The Josh Smith's first and last shots of the game were jump shots. Both were ill advised and cringe worthy.
  • So, in a nutshell, Mike Woodson's performance in the 4th quarter was as much of a meltdown as the team's was in the last game. And it pains us to say that because we really did believe he was having a great coaching game going into the 4th quarter.
  • One more reason Woodson's 4th quarter was abysmal - uh, when you have a player who is the best defensive matchup for the best player on the planet, a guy who held the guy the night before to 14 points - well, you might want to use him to defend him esp. when said guy is putting up half a hundred on you.
  • The shot clock issue - well, yes - let's protest it, but let's not act like it's probably not karmic that this happened to our Atlanta Hawks aka the organization that has cornered the market in game operations snafus.
  • It can't be understated how horrible it was to NOT have Marvin Williams on the floor.
  • It also can't be understated that while to some degree it worked - we'd like to have Al Horford on the court more minutes than Jamal Crawford when Crawford isn't on fire.
  • If Crawford and Bibby aren't on fire, you CAN'T have them on the court at the same time. The defensive liabilities are just too great.
  • Another Teague DNP...sigh!
  • Boobie Gibson was basically the Coach Brown equivalent of Coach Woodson's coaching adjustment of Jason Collins matching up vs. Shaquille O'Neal. Too bad, we didn't get a counter offer.
  • For the Cavs, it can't be a good sign that Jason Collins can neutralize Shaquille O'Neal. How far the mighty have fallen...

Str8 Butter Award - Joe Johnson...it was that obvious.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

We're forgoing the player breakdown and will simply say - Jason Collins, thanks for showing us why you are on the roster.

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Most of the negatives have been discussed above and our positive vibes in the first 3 quarters are on display. Simply put - these are the kinds of games that we think Sund should evaluate before giving Woodson an extension. For the good and bad in order to evaluate just how you would want your coach to respond under the crucible of intense, high stakes, elite basketball.

Season Prediction

After all the hype, the Hawks have the same record 21-10 as they did at this time last year. How we perform from here will spell volumes for our postseason prospects, so we won't panic and leave our prediction of 54-28, but our prospects for a division title and real postseason success will require some big victories over the Magic and Celtics in January.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Game Recap - Cavs @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

Guess you gotta like it as a writer when the recap is simple, so let's just keep it simple. There could be several things to point to, but when you have a complete meltdown on offense - you can't beat a team that aside from LeBron James (picture that) played (or maybe we should say shot) well. To the recap,

Game Recap - Cavs 95, Hawks 84

Overall Observations:
  • Josh trying to keep Mike Woodson from getting thrown out of the game...priceless!
  • Bob Rathbun walking to Cleveland..pricelesser!
  • The 2 foul monster, the free throw monster, the technical free throw miss, the no trust in the bench rotation...is this 2008-2009, Coach Woodson?
  • Ok, to the simple - if you can't score in 8 minutes of the 4th quarter, you probably aren't ready to win.
  • For all the apologists, with rest and at home vs. a big time contender - the Hawks still are a double digit loser. Now, can we maybe we talk about what areas the Hawks and Coach Woodson can use some improvements, particularly at the offensive end? It stands to reason that uptempo is the way to beat the Cavs vs. a half court offense that we certainly have not perfected.
  • For all the supporters, with rest and at home vs. a big time contender - Marvin Williams proved his defensive worth vs. LeBron James...even with Josh out of the lineup, the Hawks defense withstood the crucible.
Str8 Butter Award - Jamal Crawford...his offense and Marvin's defense were definitely the highlights of the game.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - We'll say uncle for now on the Marvin vs. Mo in the starting line up questions.
* Josh Smith - I would love to know how you can impact the game when fouls aren't an issue, but what has happened so far that you can't realize that jump shots are really still not your thing - in fact, I know I heard the Cavs help defense say very audibly - LET HIM SHOOT! If that isn't an indictment on jump shots - nothing is.
* M. Bibby - yeah, we definitely need to see more out of you on nights like this to keep my desire to see Jeff Teague to a minimum. That said, I appreciate that Woodson had you on the bench based on his desire to see better defense. If you bring no offense, you are useless to us.
* J. Johnson - This would be the night where a fourth quarter burst would be worthwhile.
* A. Horford - Really no complaints after a great defensive effort, but we do want to say - if you are alone for a dunk, don't pass to anyone for a three. Please.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - You da man, bro. Nuff said...
* J. Teague - DNP
* M. Evans - Yet another epic fail on the offensive end.
* Joe Smith - Welcome back, Joe.
* Z. Pachulia - I'm really at a loss at what to say about Zaza tonight.
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Inactive

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

The only thing I'll say is - it would stand to reason that timeouts are there for a reason. Designing something that would get us out of the rut we were in in the 4th quarter would make me feel better about our coaching situation. Not only that, but also the Josh Smith sit down for the 1st half again. Let's just get the minutes we can out of him in hopes that his total minutes provide us the margin of victory.

Season Prediction

On a night when Usher, Chris Tucker, Chris Brown, Akon, and many more were in the building, we stand up tall up until the 4th quarter...and of course on a night when LeBron is shut down. Chances of that happening again - not as likely as our going 54-28. We'll figure out if that prediction needs to change if we lose by more than 10. See you in Cleveland...

In Lieu of Hawks/Pacers Thoughts - We Present a Preview

My fellow Hawks fans,

Since we did not do a game recap for the Hawks @ Pacers, it was incumbent upon us to make sure words were offered prior to the Hawks/Cavs home and home. So, without further ado, here they go...

  • Again, we'll say - when the offense runs through Josh and Al, the Hawks really do look like an unbeatable team. Of course, this means that Josh isn't taking jump shots. That 20pt game from Joe Johnson was smooth as silk.
  • Another quote from Woodson about Jeff needing to come a long ways on defense is fine, but we wonder where that quote is for Bibby and Crawford. Yes, this would be my 'Woodson's setting up the excuse for why he won't play Teague' meter going way up.
  • Even more importantly, we still reside on the side of saying - if you don't think Teague deserves minutes, isn't it time to get someone on the team who can play backup point guard minutes (and provide some perimeter defense when needed). Certainly we can stand to have Jason Collins join Othello Hunter on the inactive list.
  • With that in mind, upon Joe Smith's return - a Teague/Hunter 10 game stint in the D League wouldn't hurt now or would it? (Comments welcome)
  • Finally, to the Cavs games, here's success to us - two very close games no matter who wins, a split, or a Hawks sweep. Here's what will make us question our postseason readiness - losses by more than 10 points each. Bottom line, we need to come to play and send another message to the Eastern Conference that we aren't going anywhere. Cavs are hot, we're a little less than hot. Let's see what the 6th man will do for us..
  • Keys for tonight's game - a good effort from the reserves, a good defensive effort from Marvin Williams, and an understanding from the Hawks that the Cavs aren't going to let Joe Johnson beat them...our offensive gameplan BETTER be prepared for that.
And with that, enjoy the rest of the game and our post-game recap tonight...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Game Reverb - Hawks @ Nuggets

There is a reason we believed at the beginning of the season that our ceiling was the 2nd round of the playoffs. That reason was slightly exposed vs. the Nuggets. We won't say completely exposed because it's still early in the season, the postseason doesn't have back-to-backs, and the fact that the Hawks have passed most tests this season. That said, no full game recap, but we're going to do a lil' Christmas Eve Reverb and then get back to Christmas preparation.

Game Recap...Nuggets 124, Hawks 104.
  • If there is a formula for a Hawks victory, it doesn't include not playing defense (over 50% FG including 50% from 3 pt range), Josh Smith shooting jump shots (4 - and no, going to 2 for 4 does not make it right), and a lack of energy.
  • While somewhat yielding to the notion that the Denver air on a back-to-back, this game was never in the Hawks W bank on our sheet, BUT doesn't that highlight why we should have played our starters even LESS time vs. the Timberwolves in a game that we were going to win no matter what? We have a no moral victory clause, but playing the Nuggets on a road back to back competitively would seem to be something to build upon.
  • I'll just say that I REALLY hate that any Denver road loss can be covered up with the 'thin air' excuse.
  • I miss Joe Johnson's post game complaints about the team and what we need to do to win the postseason. Please don't get complacent with that vocal leadership, Joe.
  • As a corollary to our biggest playoff complaint, is there something to that fact that the Hawks have lost most of their games fairly easily this year? An argument can be made that we only were close to defeating Chicago and maybe Detroit in our 8 losses. They can't all be victories, but can they mostly be hard fought? Or is that asking too much? Bottom line, blowing teams out and getting blown out would seem to not be a good formula for building the mental toughness needed for playoff victories. Just in case you forgot, we've got a 2 year playoff streak of losing EVERY game by double digits.
  • I'll use Ty Lawson as today's example for why you play your rookies/backup point guard. In the prior two games without Billups, the Nuggets lost both games. One with Lawson as the starter (where he performed poorly) and another from the bench (where he performed decently)...which led him to last night's performance..where he basically outplayed Mike Bibby and gave the Nuggets an early lift. Karl's consistency and trust in Lawson to perform the role he'll need to perform for the Nuggets to maintain a consistent level of play should Billups get hurt again or if Anthony Carter stinks up the joint in the postseason is what the regular season should be used for. Not to mention that you can win games that way too. So, all that was said to say - after a pretty good run in blowouts during the win streak, Teague is back to playing garbage time minutes on days where Bibby didn't show up to play and the Nuggets were determined to not let Joe Johnson beat them. THIS is what GM Sund should be evaluating before giving Woodson another contract.
  • Speaking of coaching adjustments, player pride aside - it would seem that the same way the Nuggets got it in their brains that Joe Johnson would not defeat them - at some point, oh - the third quarter maybe...someone should have said to themselves...I won't leave JR Smith and someone else should have said - I'll help Jamal Crawford keep JR Smith from even getting the ball. If we're gonna lose, let's see if Aaron Afflalo, Kenyon Martin, Nene, etc can be the one delivering the final blows.
  • Now, forgetting the coach for a second, I'm not that old, but I do remember a time where if a guy tried to show you up and break a record on you, you'd put him in the 5th row. I'm sorry, but Hawks - that was maybe the most disappointing thing I've seen all season. You put JR Smith on his ass - you foul him as soon as he gets the ball just to let him know that you are not making a mockery of our perimeter defense for a record...we can do that all on our own (make a mockery of perimeter defense, that is). Bill Laimbeer, anyone?
  • Does anyone get the feeling that maybe Joe Smith is that integral to our psyche? I don't remember Josh Smith shooting 20 ft jump shots and getting more technicals before Joe Smith went out. Come back, Joe...
  • Interestingly enough, the worse Maurice Evans plays - the more I want to reiterate my Mo into the starting lineup and Marvin to the bench theory for improving the Hawks...I need some statistical data to back me up because right now it's all HS8T gut feel.
  • Just gonna say it again...Teague - 2 DNPS, 10.8 minutes a game (with about 60% of those in garbage minutes) will not prepare him for the playoffs, so anyone who is wondering..our only hope for keeping our 3 guard rotation fresh and spry for the postseason (b/c that's all the next 54 games are for since only a collapse could prevent us from a top 4 seed) is to keep blowing teams out and to be blown out, so that they are on the bench in the 4th quarter. Any hope that we'd make it a point to rest our players (as a short term and long term strategy for success) no matter what is pretty much out the window.
That's pretty much it - no need to tout Jamal's performance last night. We've come to expect it, so let's focus on the Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year holidays. For those who celebrate Hanukkah and Festivus or nothing at all, just enjoy the days off and the fact that the Hawks are 20-8 on their way to a 50 win season (one we've predicted to land at 54-28 until further notice). That's something to be cheered and celebrated no matter how we feel about Jeff Teague's minutes...

Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Game Recap - Hawks @ Timberwolves

Preamble Ramble

Interestingly enough, a blowout where the Hawks don't particularly play well - sounds a lot like Christmas. For a team that in its recent past had to do everything possible well to win games on the road no matter what the opponent, it is not lost on us how fun it is to watch a team play ok and still win by 25 on the road. That plus best start in the last 25 years makes the words of Ice Cube appropriate - "Today was a good day!" So, without further ado, let's just get to the recap.

Game Recap - Hawks 112, Timberwolves 87

Overall Observations:
  • It seems like the next project for the blogosphere needs to take form. First, it was the Josh Smith jump shooting strike, then it was the 2 fouls and you sit brigade, and now it's (sorry Josh, we're back) the Josh Smith SHUT IT campaign. I haven't spent a lot of time researching the development of Rasheed Wallace's ability to draw technical fouls, but I can't help but think that it took some years to develop and it's simply time to stop it before it gets any worse.
  • Wonder if the endorsement potential that resides in a smiling, jumping, active Josh Smith could be the elixir for what ails Bro. Smoove. Smoove's agent needs to draw up some numbers on how much Josh is losing by complaining to the refs after every call. If anything makes Josh look like he still doesn't get it, that's it.
  • While we're still on this rant, is it really too much for someone on the team to grab Josh and say - 'hey, that really was a foul' or 'hey, refs miss calls and rarely reverse them, so relax and focus'.
  • Since we're on this rant, did Teague really end up being the last player to enter the game on the team against the Timberwolves? On a back-to-back road trip? On a night when 3 players used 17 of their 18 alloted fouls when another player was out due to injury?
  • Al, Jamal, and Joe - that's all it takes to beat a T-Wolves team by 25, huh?
  • So, T-Wolves GM David Kahn thinks that the Hawks are a team to be studied in understanding how to rebuild a franchise...who'd a thunk that 3 years ago?
  • Coach Woodson, since you won by 25, let's hope that this fouling out thing doesn't cause any new dramatic changes in how you govern our players...as you can see - it is better to get all the minutes out of the players by force than not get them by choice.
Str8 Butter Award - Jamal Crawford...how can you argue with a point a minute? Thanks Jamal for making this an easy win.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - The signs of aggression in the paint were well taken.
* Josh Smith - Fouls aside, it actually was a very good start to the game. Maybe that's why you were so angry when you saw that career highs were in reach.
* M. Bibby - On a night when you were playing vs. my offseason fave Ramon Sessions, point for Bibby. Sessions couldn't throw it in the ocean.
* J. Johnson - It's really nice to see your shooting stroke start coming back, JJ and those 34 minutes with a big back end to a back to back doesn't hurt either.
* A. Horford - A Boss-worthy effort in trying to defend two young Wolves studs, Jefferson and Love. Thanks for holding it together long enough for the Jamal train to get rolling..

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - I take this time to reiterate how wrong I was about 1) that this might not be a good trade for the Hawks and 2) that Flip Murray could provide basically the same production at a lower price tag. WRONG! and WRONG!
* J. Teague - Still not sure what has occurred, but 6 minutes vs. the Bulls (but at least one first half stint) and then this garbage time stint. We'll continue to be the official Teague must play Hawks blog since no one else seems to care as much as we do about this.
* M. Evans - Thanks for having your poor shooting night on a night when it doesn't matter.
* Joe Smith - DNP
* Z. Pachulia - Stunned that you can foul out vs. Love and Jefferson when they didn't do a ton on the offensive end.
* R. Morris - Doubly stunned that you can foul out in 10 minutes...Solomon Jones would be proud
* J. Collins - Anytime we see you playing in the first half and we still win by 25 - these are heady times in Hawk land.
* Hunter - No offense, but how you are getting the same minutes as Teague still boggles the mind.

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Just gonna keep beating the 'develop Teague' drum. So, he barely played in a close game vs. the Bulls can be justified, but it's hard to understand why during a game that's not in contention - why Jeff Teague didn't touch the court until the game was over. We are trying our best to not harken back to the days of Acie Law IV, but this situation bears watching.

Season Prediction

54-28 stands...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Game Recap - Hawks @ Bulls

Preamble Ramble

Normally, we use the losses by the Atlanta Hawks to figure out what long term implications this kind of loss may have in the future. Today, we have to determine whether or not - it's more purposeful to value wins vs. teams that will ultimately be in the playoffs or to value losses vs. teams who likely will not. And we finally came to the conclusion that there is a way to value them without dismissing one. Wins vs. playoff teams can give us an indication of whether we have the talent to match up with the best teams in the league. Losses vs. non-playoff teams will give us an indication on whether or not we will have the seeding (i.e. home court advantage) necessary to actually defeat some of these playoff teams. The truly elite can lose to poor teams on the road, but it won't happen frequently (at least not frequently enough that it retards their drive toward 60 wins.

So, we'd say that a game like this one vs. the Bulls proves that we aren't a 60 win team, but doesn't send any other message, particularly as the back end of a back-to-back where we battled, competed, and ultimately should have won the game. On to the other analyses...

Game Recap - Bulls 101, Hawks 98 (OT)

Overall Observations:
  • On the back end of the back-to-back, it would nice (even when well rested over the past few weeks) to have more copious use of the bench when starters are struggling. It would seem that Evans and Pachulia have proven that they can provide some valuable minutes when given more of an opportunity. Same for Teague - 6 minutes just isn't going to cut it when Hinrich and Rose are wearing Bibby and Crawford out.
  • We like to see Joe Johnson decide that he has an advantage and keep the team in the game, but there has to be a point where Joe's hot start or finish consistently opens up options for others. 32 shots just seems a little excessive unless you are unconscious.
  • Complaints aside, if we are going to lose, let's lose giving full effort and competing for the entire game. It was heartening to see the Hawks scrap a claw its way to an opportunity to win.
  • Now, the flip side of that is - we have another step that has been added to our proving ground - closing out teams you are leading by 9 with 4 minutes left in the game..particularly when they are not better than you (road or no road).
  • Josh...you and the jump shots - I mean...I thought we had gone over this before.
  • Derrick Rose - way to shut some people up regarding your sophomore slump..at our expense of course!
Str8 Butter Award - Joe Johnson - he was really the only person worth his salt, but I certainly say that 32 shots! You kinda need to see that that isn't the formula used to win the first 19 out of 25 games.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - 31 minutes and 4 points (on 1 of 7 shots)...I'm just sayin'
* Josh Smith - Ill Advised Fouls and Jump Shots...yes, this line says it all.
* M. Bibby - While you handled some offensive business, the defense on Hinrich and Rose was offensive (said in the Ryan Cameron voice)
* J. Johnson - Already said our piece on it, so just be clear - thanks for bringing your game to the Chi...next time tell everyone else to do the same. Big kudos to your defensive prowess in those final possessions vs. D. Rose...
* A. Horford - Lots of hard work down low - the question is whether or not we ever recognized that there really isn't a low post presence or shot blocker on the Bulls and therefore, Josh and Al should have been focal points of the office.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - Jamal actually had it going and was unable to get even more shots or time to help us out of the malaise.
* J. Teague - Not really anything useful from you tonight, but maybe a second stint allows that to not be the epitaph.
* M. Evans - A nondescript night ...and on the heels of high praise! Beware of the HS8T curse...
* Joe Smith - DNP
* Z. Pachulia - No Comment..
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - DNP

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

No major complaints - maybe not so much fear of the fouls on Josh when you know you need him and a little more bench love when the game was getting tight, but this really just falls on the starters and their occasional reliance on Joe Johnson to win a game for us. Unfortunately, Joe Johnson singlehanded wins down the stretch don't really happen that often.

Season Prediction

We are happy we didn't let the homestand get us to go too far things, so we'll just stick with 54-28, but we need to see a split in this road trip to feel good about how we are going to leave 2009 and go into 2010.

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 well...my 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 really...how 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 apologies...now, 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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hawks Events in January

Here's two upcoming events for Hawks fans in January.

The Atlanta Hawks Foundation Full Court Fest on 1/23 from 7-11PM. A great time to be had by all. As well as the Atlanta Spirit Speaker Series with UGA AD Damon Evans before the Hawks/Celtics game on 1/29. So, for more information - contact William Stephens at 404.878.3782.


Game Recap - Grizzlies @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

First, we thank everyone for their comments on the blogs lately - a great departure from last year when NO ONE would comment and now, it's comments almost every day. Seems like success rises all tides. And with that, we were finally back in Philips for a change (had some business issues to attend to for a few weeks) to join the other 5,000 or so who decided to join us. I really need to do a blog on how attendance figures are put together. There's no WAY that 14K walked through the doors last night (and that includes everyone working, playing..etc - there simply weren't 14K living organisms in that building). Good thing for those who did attend - the Hawks didn't need the 6th man to provide any energy in order to dispatch the Grizzlies.

Note: It should be noted that I haven't done a full Game Recap since the Knicks game and we've been going blowout crazy since then, so if we lose to the Jazz. Blame it on HS8T!

Game Recap - Hawks 110, Grizzlies 97

Overall Observations:
  • I'm fairly happy that I can detect when a player is about to take advantage of Bibby or Crawford. Not that it takes much - quick guard with any level of mid-range or layup touch. So, the next lesson for Woodson is to detect that Teague is going to be your best elixir for those guards. No more Tony Parker 40pt, 10 ast nights...
  • How nice of the Grizzlies to give up in the 4th quarter. Not sure I've ever seen a below average team throw in the towel that quickly esp. when those players need as much time on the court together as possible.
  • Wasn't OJ Mayo supposed to be the next something? He looked quite ordinary last night esp. on the defensive end.
  • On the other hand, while not having a great night - Rudy Gay looks like the goods. His game is super smooth.
  • HS8T thanks all of these teams for taking Woodson off the hook in his bench utilization over the past 4 games. Maybe the Utah game will be a better test for the Teague conundrum.
  • We also thank Mo Evans for making the Marvin Williams to the Bench crusade we've waged for two years a much more plausible and do-able endeavor.
  • Sam Young's line in the box score make it look like he was putting in work, but he looked awful while the game was semi-competitive. Fantasy owners should be excited to know that Mr. Young was determined to get some numbers for you.
Str8 Butter Award - In a first, Coach Mike Woodson gets the Str8 Butter Award. Yes, Joe Johnson had a great game, but in a game where we saw an early Randolph Morris sighting in the first quarter and more liberal use of the bench, I will suspend my regular complaints about whether our off/def philosophy are useful in the postseason and simply revel in the fact that he may be ready to embrace the fact that the reserves can be your friend.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - We love the board work, but I hate to say this, but not only do you deserve to be benched, but you really are a smart guy for signing that contract with the Hawks this offseason.
* Josh Smith - While the numbers don't show a dominant performance - save the jump shot temptation that seems to still be in Josh's system, it was on the defensive end early that he wouldn't be having it.
* M. Bibby - Interestingly, Bibby really hasn't been a part of the offensive onslaught that has occurred for the Hawks this year.
* J. Johnson - Joe was on tonight, but it's hard to not be on when there's no defense being played to stop you.
* A. Horford - Double double - 15 shots, yep - I think you're starting to get it Al. When they pass it to you and you are not double teamed, you better shoot because that's the only way you're going to get touches. And the Hawks benefit when you have touches...

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - As long as Woodson has the hook ready for you - we are more than happy to see you come in with the sole idea of filling the bucket up with shots.
* J. Teague - Probably his worst game of the last 4, but again - when you're playing scrubs in garbage time, it's hard to figure out what we have besides potential. As for the conundrum, it was in effect again. Is it tough love to pull Teague after a TO and foul after a few minutes in the first half or is it a lack of trust for the rookie to learn from his mistakes? I do know that the only person staying in front of Conley or Tinsley was Teague, so I hope he got credit for that on the defensive end. The saga continues...
* M. Evans - Since the Knicks game, Mo has gone crazy. He's done everything to show that 1) he should always be in the rotation (and we agree) and that he can actually play Marvin's role in the offense of spot up shooter and defensive presence at the small forward better than Marvin can. The interesting thing is that if he's going to keep scoring at this clip - he basically trumps my reasoning for moving him to the starting lineup. If he and Crawford can continue to score like this, it's no reason for us to upset the apple cart.
* Joe Smith - DNP
* Z. Pachulia - Point center Zaza Pachulia - is there anything we won't see from Zaza?
* R. Morris - Actually, it was good to see him get some minutes early to determine if he's going to be glued to that bench all season, but it was kinda terrible that he only got 2 minutes to really show anything. We get it Mike - it's what you do with the minutes, but 2 minutes isn't really enough to do anything. Can we agree on that?
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - If we can continue to blow teams out, then I'll retract my point about him being in the D League. Othello needs more court time..it would be great to see Hunter and Morris prove that they can be useful in the NBA and to this team...

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

We've given him a game ball and we've already talked about the minor issue of pulling players too soon (see Teague and Morris), but it's baby steps.

Str8 Talk Love

In our first time back in Philips Arena in a few weeks, some things have changed. First, there were wands, required hat removals, and pat downs unexpectedly at the entrance [Note: the last time this was required was due to a fight in the arena.] Second, there were tickets in a new part of the arena which was fine. The better to watch what was happening on the bench during the game and you know it's rolling when the entire starting 5 is not paying attention to the coach or even the game.

Dance Team/Game Ops update - Now, we have been going pretty hard at the dance team all year, but they managed to pull off the feat of putting on their best and worst performances that I've seen all season in the same game. The worst being the lackluster halftime Christmas performance, but the best being the sublime uptempo (and rumpshaking) ditty to Keri Hilson's 'Turning Me On'. So, there's hope it seems...keep up the good work, ladies.

Shout Outs - Che

Final Notes - 5 game win streak...with the Jazz coming to town - it'll be interesting to see if we can keep pace with the Magic and get ready for a real basketball for a change (and whether that ends the low minutes for our starters and increased trust in our bench).

Season Prediction

Still unsure that we have what it takes to overtake the Orlando Magic, but it's time to increase our expectation for the season...54-28. That's the new benchmark for our fair Hawks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tis The Season

One thing we've neglected to do is to provide the other side of the Hawks. When we started this blog, we wanted to make sure we provided other fodder other than critiques, praise, and recaps of the on-court product, so things like game ops, fan experiences, and community activities were on deck, but we've neglected that side a lot and wanted to use Christmas as a time to make that change, so check out this blog on Jamal Crawford's event tomorrow.

Also, as a note, we do have to give Jamal a lot of credit for jumping into the community with both feet. He's already had an event for Big Brothers Big Sisters and this one and we've heard from the Hawks organization that Jamal has quickly become a go to person for help with anything that helps our community. That's the way to keep me from criticizing a few extra unadvised pulls from 3. Thanks Jamal.

Crawford's 'Giving Tree'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Teague Connundrum

We decided to take a break from game recaps because of time AND the fact that they were fun to watch, terrible to blog about, so rather than just blog for blog sake - we waited for something to move us and since it really is the only thing that true Hawks fans are interested in (aside from this relative lofty success the Hawks are experiencing right now)....it's how much should Jeff Teague play and to what end?

And of course, any blog about Jeff Teague should intertwined with a conversation about Mike Woodson and his ability to coach young guards. So, let's talk about the pros and cons of his role:

1. Backup Point Guard - Normally, you wouldn't have high expectations for a rookie point guard to contribute on a contending team esp. one chosen as low (and after as many quality point guards have been chosen) as Teague, but should that change if you only have 1 point guard on the roster. (Note: while we agree that Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford can play point - it's not their natural position nor are they most effective at the position, so why play them there?). So, since we do only have 1 point guard who happens to be lacking in penetration skills and perimeter defense and youth, it stands to reason that utilizing the backup point guard to provide rest, penetration, change of pace, and yes - a better defensive effort would be useful for this team during the season and, should we need it, during the postseason. As the backup to an aging point guard that you will need in the postseason, we would believe that 18-22 minutes would be necessary every single night. Due to the youth of our backup point guard and the fact that he's a rookie, we expected this number to be lower - somewhere in the 13-17 range, but yet still an average of two stints a night. To date, we have already failed to give our backup point guard enough minutes if the goal is to play our starting guards less this season.

2. Future Point Guard - In what was an extraordinarily deep point guard pool in the 2009 NBA draft, the 7th point guard turned out to be a great fit for the Hawks future point guard needs in every place except as a 3pt shooter. With this in mind, the question is how best to develop a young point guard while on a contending team. What minutes are 'winning game' minutes vs. 'development for the postseason' minutes vs. 'development as the 2010-2011 starter' minutes. It's no secret that HS8T has never thought Woodson was very good at finding minutes for young players. We've also been very forthright in saying that under cloak of no new contract - we can see why you may lack trust in a young player to help you win games now, but nothing is a substitute in this league for playing time. If you want to find out whether or not Jeff Teague can be the unlikely player who develops into a starting point guard role from the #19 position in the draft, you're going to have to play him quality minutes (even minutes with starters in order to command the respect that a point guard must command). To date, it could be argued that we are trending in a direction that would fail to play Teague enough to determine whether he's a starter for the future Atlanta Hawks.

3. Rest & Injury Protection - Now, this is where we hoped last year's injury riddled/worn out playoff run would serve as a guide for Teague's development. We hoped that would be the little voice that said trust your rookie until he gives you overwhelming evidence of a lack of readiness in good and bad times. From this quote we wonder whether this was the cause of some of his early season foibles "Before, Teague said, "I just wanted to make sure I didn't turn it over and do anything wrong. Now I think I'm more comfortable. I try to play my game and I think that's what they want me to do." Rookie mistakes happen - that's why they are called rookie mistakes. They have to happen in order to get past them. We'd much rather them happen in the regular season than the postseason, which means the comfort with which we play Teague has to happen now. That wouldn't be a requirement if we had ANOTHER point guard to play while he learns the game, but one way or the other - we must do a better job of managing Joe Johnson's minutes - he should be playing about 35 minutes (i.e. Joe should get about a quarter's worth of rest each game) with the talent that we have at this stage esp. with the scoring punch that Jamal Crawford brings, but that can't happen if you only have a 3 man guard rotation.

Final Analysis:

We hope that Woodson is taking the hint from his own quote on Teague. Said Woodson, "He's been playing pretty good for us. A lot of that is he's getting a few minutes and he's got some confidence going. That's what it's all about." Correct - playing without fear of making mistakes and knowing that he's getting PT builds confidence. It's no coincidence to us that the talent we saw in the preseason grows when you play and wanes when you don't. Teague will not be perfect this season, but he will provide a spark for this Hawks team if you give him the chance. He already has. The question is how much of a chance he should be given and how consistently should that happen. We believe that around 15-18 minutes would do the trick.

An argument has been made regarding shooting and defensive lapses by Teague, but we'd argue that in a season where he's had one of the fewest usage rates amongst all rookies that the sample size is too small to know if that's a 'rookie mistake' that can be learned and cleaned up by more play OR a problem that should pin him to the sidelines. We saved Teague's #s to the end b/c even if Teague didn't have the numbers he does - we'd be advocating for at least 10 minutes a game to develop Teague, but it's the numbers that say - we should be playing him MORE.

Teague's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 15.63 - good for 7th amongst all rookies (4th among rookie PGs), better than Mike Bibby's PER of 14.27. His assist ratio is 2nd amongst all rookies behind Eric Maynor and better than Mike Bibby's 29.4. His turnover ratio is 8.8 (almost 4 to 1 asist to tunover ratio) vs. Bibby's 8.2, both are top 10 averages and for rookies - his is the best of all rookie point guards. The only rookies in the first round who have played less are Earl Clark (who hit a major slump and was benched) and Gerald Henderson (who plays for Larry Brown - nuff said). Teague also is leading all rookie point guards in Defensive Rebound Rate, 3rd in overall rebound rate. The only number that is a negative one for Teague is his shooting percentage at 40%, but there haven't been enough shot attempts to render this a very meaningful number yet. So, yes - Teague has messed up some defensive rotations and hasn't hit all of his shots, but what rookie hasn't done that. It's part of the process, a process we hope allows for more Teague play and the appreciation of the fact that his development only makes the Hawks better THIS year and in future years. At the point at which that changes, we ought to sign a backup point guard immediately.

Let's hope the past 3 performances by Teague have provided Woodson enough goodwill to trust him with minutes every night for this team in an attempt to provide the depth necessary to provide options for the postseason when Bibby's shooting, energy, injury, foul trouble, or defensive liabilities require the services of the emerging young Teague. Those performances are going to begin to render less than 10 minutes and the dreaded DNPs unacceptable in Hawks land.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Game Reverb - Bulls @ Hawks

This game deserves no analysis since it was simply a school yard scrimmage that we watched. Anytime, the live Twitter banter is more interesting than watching the actual game (or even going to attend - thank goodness for late night work), then you know you have a blowout on your hands. Thankfully, we've progressed to the point where we're not doubting whether it's the Hawks delivering the blowout vs. being the blowout-ee.

So, we'll eschew the Game Recap format and go to Game Reverb mode...Hawks 118, Bulls 83. Here's my thoughts...
  • Pretty much everyone got in on the fun, so no Mike Woodson complaints today, but we only hope that there was one takeaway from the victory. Using your bench can actually result in an extension of the lead. What was still in contention started to unravel at the point that the reserves were given a chance to extend the lead. Let's hope that this encourages Mike Woodson to continue to play the 2nd team more minutes as not just rest for starters, but as a spark for the team when the starters aren't getting it done. So, yes - if Joe is shooting like my lil' brother - you can SIT him for other options to keep a L off the standings sheet.
  • Get well soon, Joe Smith...
  • Twitter gave me two nuggets - 1) that hoopinion's expectations of joe johnson were raised due to his performance at Dallas to the point that his performance vs. the Bulls seemed to be a big let down (our take: same ol' Joe) and 2) that Lang Whitaker of Slam Magazine (a swell guy he seems) thinks that Teague will get more minutes when he plays better defense (our take: wouldn't he have to be on the court more to determine how good he can be on defense and wouldn't the players ahead of him have to play defense to even make that a fair litmus test...I respect Lang, but I will cling to my thought of Mike Woodson doesn't know how to develop rookies or depth for the postseason).
  • Since Teague and defense came up, might as well say - uh, that was a LeBron-esque swat of Salmons' layup. GTSOOH!
  • A Hawks blowout just goes to show you how quickly players regress to a Golden State Warriors all out offensive assault when left to their own devices. Yes, you have to have a real team playing against you, but there was nary an offensive set run from mid-way through the 3rd quarter.
  • As for our injuries, Joe Smith - sit until 100%, same for Bibby...we can survive without you guys for a week or two. Please just get 100% before trying to trot yourselves out there again. Seeing Bibby with a slight limp is VERY disconcerting. Teague can handle things until you get back...trust!
  • Finally, Vinny - all I can say is...make 'em fire you b/c you might not get another NBA head coaching paycheck for a long time at this rate.
And with that, no conclusions made - just a continued belief that we'll be 50-32 and until we see more coaching and better offensive consistency, that's not changing! Let's Go HAWKS!!!

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.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Game Recap - Knicks @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

First, let me say that there are only 2 games I hate to lose each season and that's vs. the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks...why? Because my friends from both cities - regardless of how good or bad the team is - will talk trash for days on end. So, of course - it stands to reason that the season we're good (much like Ga. Tech vs. UGA) we would decide that this is the season to lose to both of those DREGS of the NBA (or at least as presently constituted in the case of the Detroit Pistons). So, forgive me if there's a little more venom in today's game recap. On to my inner rattlesnake...

Game Recap - Knicks 114, Hawks 107

Overall Observations:
  • Josh Smith deserved both technicals. The first one because officials need to make it an issue (if the Hawks coaches and players can't) to impress upon Josh to SHUT THE #$@% UP. We've been saying all season that he needs to shut up for two reasons - no one gets every call and it's never benefited ANYONE save Michael Jordan to show up a ref. He deserved the second one because his teammates did not find it important enough to save Josh from himself, so for their lack of leadership - we deserved to see Josh leave the court in what we hope will be a lesson that is heeded for the remainder of his career.
  • Before moving on, we should also note that my friend noted that Mike Woodson bears some responsibility because he should have taken Josh out of the game when he was out of control vs. the refs earlier in the game OR when he missed that breakaway dunk. Sorry, but in high school - they teach you that if you miss a dunk - you sit. Simple as that.
  • Anytime Chris Duhon is lighting you up, the coaches need to figure out a NEW plan.
  • In the first half, I'm not sure that there were any good possessions after the opening 5 minutes. Watching a bad jump shooting display is NOT my impression of a fun Friday night.
  • Finally, we REALLY want to know what it takes to make an adjustment when the Atlanta Hawks are losing. Our vote is always going to be to find out what Jeff Teague can do for you. As other bloggers have noted, he could get roasted on the defensive end, but we don't know until we try. Not only that - if we're going to lose anyway, might as well get the guy some experience to draw from in the future vs. feeling like there is NO redeeming value in a Knicks loss.
  • Good to know that it doesn't just happen to Teague and that even though Joe Smith is the backup power forward and has been solid in backup minutes ALL season - when the starter is thrown out that it doesn't stand to reason that the backup would get more minutes. Yep, these are our Atlanta Hawks!
Str8 Butter Award - No one - yes, Joe put up numbers again in a great 2nd half, but the horrendous 1st half pretty much trumps it, so no awards tonight.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - Great start, but again - when we needed that extra spark on both ends. Not really much to offer on the interior when needed.
* Josh Smith - Well, we've dwelled on the immaturity of Josh already, but let's also just say - is it that fragile? Our average defense goes to poor if Josh isn't in the game? Really...well, there's another vote for Defensive POY AND Most Important Hawk.
* M. Bibby - As we've always noted, Bibby is as good as his ability to match in offensive production what he gives away in defensive production and on tonight - you sir provided 30+ minutes of not enough.
* J. Johnson - Won't say more other than - we have praised your vocal leadership at times this season, so it's time that we start to get back to praising your overall game again. You have to give us the reason to do so...you are looking more like Michael Redd than D Wade every day.
* A. Horford - We appreciate your warrior effort, but it's a shame that Woodson didn't determine that help from Zaza or Joe Smith would make sense for you.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - Jamal, when your 3pt ball isn't falling and the other team doesn't have a shot blocker - take it to the hole.
* J. Teague - Seriously, I won't let our good friend Third Falcon continue the charade - Mike Woodson just has a blind spot (i.e. trust issues) with you and so, despite 23 good minutes vs. the Raptors - that didn't EARN you more than 1 minute vs. the mighty Knicks and we can't for the life of us understand why esp. when you're short handed. Let's just hope that the teammates are explaining to you (uh, Zaza - we know you know!) that that's how Woodson rolls.
* M. Evans - Maybe the doghouse talk was premature, but then again you haven't really done much to earn minutes lately, Mo.
* Joe Smith - Just see Teague's notes and change it to 5 minutes and then, repeat. Good thing you're a vet, so we trust you to bring it when given the opp, but from this fan - no, we have no idea what Woodson is doing.
* Z. Pachulia - Maybe the only person who really did what we expected him to do.
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - Inactive. Why aren't you playing in the D League?

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

This game really encapsulates the things we like least about Mike Woodson. The lack of leadership, the lack of in-game adjustments, the lack of trust in his bench (where were Teague and Joe Smith), and just a bad offensive and defensive philosophy. There really is not Plan B with the Atlanta Hawks. It's just keep doing what you do and hope that if it's not working - that by doing more of it, playing more of the same players, playing them in the same combinations, etc will save the day. Against the average to bad teams, this works. But it should have been revealed to you by now that this doesn't work in two instances - if your team doesn't play hard or smart and if you actually lose some of the talent that masks its deficiencies.

So, we are flumoxxed when we read these quotes from you from the AJC...

"I played him early because I just think if we're struggling, I've got to think about putting him in the game if it's a sluggish type [of pace] where he can speed the game up and change the tempo of the game," Woodson said. "I think he can do that for us."

Fans have called for Teague to play more. Woodson said the rookie's minutes will come as needed by the team, as is the case for other backups.

"If Teague plays 10 minutes, it's got to be a great 10 minutes for us, because I might not come back his way for a while," Woodson said. "That's the unique thing about having a bunch of talent on your team. And they've got to understand. You can't play everybody."

Teammates have been encouraging Teague.

"Jeff's going to be great," guard Joe Johnson said. "He can do so much for you offensively and defensively. He's just got to keep learning."

When have you ever put Jeff in the game to change the tempo of the game? Why do you think that bench minutes have to come in wild variations? Isn't it standard and apparent that every game you have to play your bench? You can't play your starters the entire game and every game - someone might not play that well, so you ...uh, bring in players from the bench to give you production. Why is this so foreign to you? Why wouldn't you come back to your bench, particularly when the starters aren't bringing it or deserving of the minutes you are giving them? If you have a LOT of talent, then using all of the different talents might be useful.

Str8 Talk Love

Final Notes - Normally, I would talk about the dance team, the many ladies who think that leggings are now a substitute for pants altogether, or that I really can't stand the Knicks, BUT since I'm still steaming over last night's loss - I have no words. Nothing other than - get it together Hawks! Please...

Season Prediction

50-32!!!! But it's in jeopardy of falling by the wayside fast.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Game Recap - Raptors @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

Well, that's how you respond to what should be looked at as our worst loss of the year. Losing to a short handed Pistons left us blog-less for 3 days and then, rant-i-fied when we did, so thanks Hawks for making us take a break and simply enjoy a game full of winning basketball plays. And with that, we give you a full game recap.

Game Recap - Hawks 146, Raptors 115

Overall Observations:
  • Let's not get too excited - a game where the main Raptor starters don't play half the game should be taken with a grain of salt. Not their night!
  • That said, it would be nice if the Raptors even attempted to play defense in the game. I mean 146 points...come on, son!
  • Let's hope that Hedo was true to his word that he felt that his family would fit better in Toronto b/c passing up Orlando and Portland for Toronto...hmmm, not the best basketball move.
  • This would be a good time to reiterate that when the game plays through the frontcourt - it is so much easier to win a game.
  • File this under the "Never Gonna Happen Again" category - Horford leads the team in shot attempts while Crawford and Johnson are healthy and in the game.
  • Finally, when Morris and Collins get more than 2 minutes in a game something has either gone horribly right or horribly wrong. There's no in-between on this.
  • Did Mo Evans fall into a Woodson doghouse? Not playing in this blowout until the late 3rd quarter seems kinda off...
Str8 Butter Award - Mike Bibby came out ready to show that his ankle is nothing to worry about and that he will not be Wally Pipp'ed anytime soon. A big night from him steadied the Hawks until they determined that the Sixers had no answer for Horford and Josh Smith on the interior.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - Good Game, Marvin..not sure there is anything to glean from this game, but if you are shooting better and you're more aggressive then we'll take that.
* Josh Smith - More evidence that your defensive player of the year bid is actually not fool's gold.
* M. Bibby - Can hit the 3s, but not the free throw...typical!
* J. Johnson - Truly, truly, truly - this is what we want to see from you..no overdribbling, just quick passing and playmaking and taking over a game when and only when the situation dictates it.
* A. Horford - Again, don't get used to it - you as our shot leader might never happen again, but way to take advantage and show how easy the game is when you provide production in the paint.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - What can we say - kudos to the bench all around!
* J. Teague - Ah, young Teague - save not knowing how to finish without getting your shot blocked, I STILL, for the life of me, can't figure out why this guy can't get consistent minutes.
* M. Evans - The doghouse watch has officially begun...
* Joe Smith - Great spark off the bench tonight - every time he gets good minutes we say - Solomon Who?
* Z. Pachulia - All you need to know about Zaza was on display when you saw Zaza in the stands saving a ball during a blowout. Respect the Zaza!
* R. Morris - Yes, almost a full quarter of action - dropping in bunnies! Man, blowouts are so fun.
* J. Collins - Yes, almost a full quarter of action - fouling and looking like he needed minutes to losing some weight! Yes, we said it - NOW, we understand why he's been glued to the bench - we've gotta Eddy Curry situation going on here.
* Hunter - Inactive

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

No need to repeat our last rant on this, so we'll just say - great response, great use of the bench - please continue it. If you were paying attention, the bench EXTENDED the lead. See, Woody - you actually can do better when you play your bench. That is all.

Str8 Talk Love

Final Notes - Again, nothing to get excited about - Raptors didn't even play, so let's take our health and W and keep it moving!

Season Prediction

50-32!!!!

Are the Hawks Overachieving?

I've made a habit of not doing full game recaps when the Hawks don't play well. There should always be perspective and what not when writing about the Hawks during games they should win. So, the question that comes to mind is - did the Hawks overachieve in defeating Portland twice or Boston on the road OR did the Hawks underachieve by losing to the injury plagued Hornets, Bobcats, and Pistons? Or both?

We still haven't had enough games locked in to make a true assessment, but certainly the trend lately is following the path of last year's hot start...and that's one where we started by sharing the ball, having hot Joe Johnson, and good bench contributions, only to follow that up with inconsistent effort and execution that ended up with a slightly above average record.

So, we throw that question out and then provide comments about the Hawks/Pistons game...
  • An undermanned squad devoid of its top 3 players and its 4th best player gets hurt in the 2nd half dominates the boards by a clip of 2 to 1. This should cause panic (or at very least a questioning of whether our eyes deceived us in thinking that rebounding was not still a major concern for the Hawks).
  • How you gonna waste a Josh Smith jump shooting clinic? (Note: Josh, don't ever try to put on a jump shooting clinic again! Your J will be removed JUST LIKE THAT.)
  • Ben Wallace sure would look good on the Hawks team coming off the bench like some blogger said he would last year.
  • If I'm Rick Sund, I'm asking myself - what does it take to get Joe Johnson off the floor and Jeff Teague on it? We'll keep repeating this point - HE DOESN'T HAVE TO START, but damn - just 10 minutes to see if he can provide the spark that obviously was lacking. We're playing the Pistons for goodness sake.
  • If I'm a Mike Woodson supporter, I'm ready to hear your explanation for why Teague isn't playing at ALL and why you believe Joe Johnson deserves the 9th most minutes in the NBA or what happened to the belief that Jamal would assuredly provide rest for Joe...if you are providing quality production in 43 minutes, then at least we have something to show for it, but 43 minutes, forced shots, and poor production means we not only lose NOW, but we'll lose when he's tired and worn out this postseason from playing so much throughout the season.
  • If I'm Jeff Teague, Zaza, Maurice, or Joe Smith, welcome to life on the Atlanta Hawks bench. Just remember that you are supposed to just be ready for the minutes that Woodson can't find for you EVEN when as an example - I come in and provide great defensive support and ..wait for it, head for the bench immediately (sorry Mo!)
  • If I'm Marvin or Joe Johnson, I'm thrilled that I play for a coach who no matter what will stick by my side and give me minutes, even when I don't deserve them.
  • If I'm Al or Josh, well - I'm happy with the minutes, but wondering what the heck else I have to do in order to get the opportunities that Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are afforded on this team..
Here's my parting note and yes, it's not favorable for the Hawks coach. Here's his take on Joe Johnson's slump as reported in the AJC - Mike Woodson conceded that some of the misses have been forced, but is going to keep riding him. Said Woodson, “when he’s making those forced shots, nobody’s saying a [darn] thing.”

You're right Mike - no one is saying anything ...uh, as long as you don't read almost every Hawks blogger and every NBA pundit who has criticized the Hawks offensive philosophy for the last 3 years. So, let's be crystal clear once again - a forced shot by Joe whether he makes it or not is still a BAD shot, it's a bad design, it's bad basketball. Dribbling for 10 seconds only to shoot a jump shot or contested runner is a bad offensive option - we hate it (you certainly have expressed displeasure when anyone other than Joe Johnson or Flip Murray 1.0 and 2.0 has done it) and we hate you for not calling it out as a bad option. So, we know you wanna be ride or die with Joe and we even agreed with it circa 2005-2007, but now - it's just bad offense, it's bad leadership and it's bad coaching. Stop enabling bad basketball. We have enough talent to possibly play for a conference title if you (and Joe) stop getting in the way.

Did I say the word bad enough times in that paragraph?

Yeah, I said it...and I'm going to keep saying it. If we play the way we have, we'll keep beating most of the bad basketball teams on talent and we'll find ways to lose to the ones who are our equal and we'll lose to the ones better than us. All which means a 48-52 win season and a setup for a fall in the postseason.

Anyway, games like the Pistons/Hawks games happen, but the continued ignoring of our bench save Crawford, continued lack of development for Teague, continued reliance on Joe Johnson isolation plays, continued reliance on 3pt shooting, and lack of recognition that our future lies in Josh Smith and Al Horford's capable hands will continue to vex us and this team. And with that, the rant's over - time for Hawks/Raptors where they can attempt to debunk everything said in this blog. I dare you to do so...