This is probably going to be a difficult blog to write because it really defies many of the things that we are accustomed to with the Hawks. It was the definition of a 'stolen victory'. Yes, there were several things that the Hawks did well, but not more than they did bad and yet, a victory. One that actually we needed - for the following reasons...we needed to rid ourselves of the Orlando stench, they were playing without KG and Rasheed and Marquis Daniels (Note: Back-to-back losses where we lose to elite teams that are shorthanded would not bode well.) So, let's get to the analysis...
Game Recap - Hawks 102, Celtics 96
- There really was NOTHING that made me feel like the Atlanta Hawks would win this game by virtue of their first half play. Yet we won...and that makes me feel giddy.
- Overheard in the post game interview with Woodson - uh, praise for Jamal Crawford's defense...
- How does it work that the only Celtic players who don't shoot over 50% are House, Perkins, and Allen and the Hawks win?
- Ok, so we must have won the battle on the boards, right? Nope. Ok, we scored more three pointers...uh, nope...so, you mean to tell us that we shared the basketball more than the Celtics in the form of assists...not that one either. Ok, so maybe we have undervalued the value of steals, blocks, turnovers, and wait for it...FREE THROWS!
- Yes, let's say it again - on a night when there were some terrible calls on both sides, in Boston, the Atlanta Hawks won the foul battle. Way to attack the basket (and way to go Boston Celtic lack of self control)...
- Speaking of which, the irony is drippingly rich that on a night when Kevin Garnett and Rasheed 'Self Control is my Middle Name' Wallace aren't even in the game - that technical fouls, ejections, and flagrant fouls would turn the tide decidedly in the Atlanta Hawks favor.
- Not only that - it's amazing how coaches don't see how the whistle giveth and the whistle taketh away...Coach Rivers wasn't giving back the obviously NOT flagrant foul assessed to Zaza Pachulia, but lost a gasket over a pretty easy to call (if we're using the Zaza scale as our litmus test) flagrant foul on Marvin Williams. (Note: I didn't think either were flagrant.)
- Ok, we've delayed it long enough - on this night...Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford showed why you need a player to simply take over and just dominate a second half. We've railed against the isolation plays for a long time here, but when you are making those shots - we can't do anything but applaud you. AS LONG AS YOU MAKE THEM. Tonight, Joe played like the All Star he is and should be.
Starter Kudos/Smackdown -
* M. Williams - Your defensive work should be lauded
* Josh Smith - Josh's contributions don't show up well in the box score, but his energy was definitely necessary. One note though - Josh, we gotta get back on the free throws. If you get your FT % over 70% - we'll let you take one extra jump shot a game, ok?
* M. Bibby - Now, on the heels of your good work vs. the Celtics at home, you didn't provide much value with Crawford's good work down the stretch...
* J. Johnson - Again, Joe - your star status has been confirmed. Carry on...
* A. Horford - It isn't a double double, but it again was the dirty work that is worth the tea in China. Manicures on me, Al.
* J. Crawford - Nobody knows how to get fouled in 3pt land like Jamal. Thanks for stepping up and not giving up on idea of winning this game. Too often that happens in Hawk-land in case you weren't aware.
* J. Teague - DNP...and we won't even complain about it (today)
* M. Evans - Not much notable, but Mo did hit a big 3 to keep us in striking distance...
* Joe Smith - 4 minutes and donuts in the box score as well as an 11 point swing...doesn't bode well for your future PT.
* Z. Pachulia - All we'll say is - we love your aggression, Zaza - sorry if the refs tried to make it seem like you were thuggin' out there.
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
Ok, so let's get away from the defensive strategy for a minute...Coach Woodson coached a fine game tonight. Timeouts when things were getting way out of hand. Going with the hot hand over the starter and more than anything making sure that the Hawks did not let go of the thought that we could win this game.
This game is our example of why we completely disagreed with Mike Woodson's assertion that you have to play a perfect game vs. elite teams to win on the road. We didn't play ANYTHING close to our best game. The Celtics shot well, they rebounded, they did some things well and yet they lost. It's the reason why you need to simply continue to grind and work despite the fact that you aren't playing perfectly. The Hawks can play less than perfect basketball and defeat the best teams in the league. The litmus test for your elitism has everything to do with the fact that you can win with less than your best. Rarely this season have all of our cogs worked at even 90% in our victories. Marvin, Joe, Josh have all had significant drop offs in production during a series of games - and in many of them...we won going away (particularly during the Marvin stretch of bad games). So, the moral is - don't teach a team that they can't win unless they play perfect. That pressure is both unnecessary and false and this game is a prime example.
Str8 Talk Love
Can we say again that we should not have won this game?
50-32, but if we can defeat the Magic and sweep the Celtics - we may reconsider our ability to win the division...50-32 and 2nd in the division (4th seed)