Sunday, January 17, 2010

Game Recap - Suns @ Hawks

Preamble Ramble

Let's just start with this - the Hawks are good! Often times, we talk about the negatives for the Hawks so often that it is sometimes forgotten that the Hawks are tied for the FOURTH in the NBA record-wise. We are almost at the halfway point in the season and we are FOURTH!!! Again, FOURTH! The folks tied or ahead of us - we've won 4 out of 7 (on the road vs. Boston twice, @ home vs. Boston, and on the road vs. Dallas). If you run down the standings, yes - we've been dominated by the Magic, but there is a sweep of the Trailblazers, a win vs. the Suns (details below), a split with the Nuggets, and so...we want to be sure that when we are talking about the negatives at Hawk Str8Talk - it's about what things we think we need to improve to win a NBA title. We see so much said about the Hawks in the extremes and we want to make sure we don't fall into that trap. So, we'll say it - Teague not getting minutes is not the end of the world (but it could prevent a NBA title), Woodson relying on isolation plays and switching defense exclusively isn't keeping us from the playoffs (but it could lead to a 2nd round sweep). So, just know that the Hawks are good, damn good and we are happy about that. That said, off to our recap...

Game Recap - Hawks 102, Suns 101

Overall Observations:
  • Maybe I was wrong about Al Horford's ceiling - he sure looked like the best player on the court during that game.
  • Now, if we can just get the coaches and players to recognize who the best player on the court is and do EVERYTHING in their power to ensure he gets the ball, that would be an improvement for the postseason that we highly endorse. How hard is it to pass the ball to Horford?
  • Grant Hill might be aging as a basketball player better than anyone I've ever seen not named Michael Jordan. To think he was robbed of his prime by injuries is actually pretty sad...until I remember he made about $100M during that time (and that he's married to Tamia)
  • Kinda conflicted on how I feel about Horford being matched up against Steve doesn't seem right, but it worked. Is that good coaching yielding a good result? Or a player masking a poorly designed philosophy?
  • Let's make sure that win or lose...the Hawks front court did its job on the boards (even in the scoring column).
  • Last conflict - kinda conflicted for the long term about whether to cheer that we never gave up or whether to wish that we lost the game, so we could again prove the point that reverting to isolation basketball on a night when the backcourt was 17 for 45 on a night when even with Josh's jump shots - the best options for offense were Josh and Al - is BAD BASKETBALL.
  • Put a fork in Jeff Teague's usefulness to the Atlanta Hawks in 2010 barring injury. The Teague to the D League campaign begins now.
  • Final thought - it's finally dawned on me that as much as I groan and complain about Josh - I'm finally now doing the same for ALL bad jump shots. Yes, it's terrible when Josh shoots jumpers, but it's just as terrible to watch 8-9 year veterans shoot bad jump shots as well (yes, we're talking to you, Joe and Jamal). And so, no more singling out Josh...everyone who shoots bad shots gets called out. Just like Obama and people who lie about health care...
Str8 Butter Award - Josh Smith - his 20 and 15 shouldn't go unnoticed just because Jamal went all Sundiata Gaines on us. It shouldn't go unnoticed that he had 4 blocks just because he's reverting back to shooting bad jump shots again. Oh, who am I fooling? Al Horford was by far the best player of the game, so we'll just stop and acknowledge his greatness.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams - Thanks for continuing to hit the boards. We forgive your inability to finish at the rim. I mean, at least you were taking shots at the rim.
* Josh Smith - We've said everything above, but really - this is a mirror image of last year...first half of season, few jump shots. second half - increased jump shooting. Please end it.
* M. Bibby - Bibby, I really like that you decided to match Nash assist for assist. Let's try it again.
* J. Johnson - Still feeling really uncomfortable with these isolation plays. There was a 10 minute stretch where Crawford and Johnson DOMINATED the ball when Horford was on fire. Still can't figure out how this escapes anyone.
* A. Horford - You are making me a fool for doubting you. I'm fine with being a fool...

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford - Jamal, thank you for having gold dipped balls. Thanks. Now, shot selection...defense...yes, we want that too.
* J. Teague - Not gonna spend another minute on this - we've already said it. Just be smart Hawks and let the guy play in the D League where he doesn't have to worry about the whims of the coach.
* M. Evans - Still want to see Maurice in the starting I crazy?
* Joe Smith - Loved the board work and honestly, I can't say I'd feel better with anyone else on the roster defending the pick and roll.
* Z. Pachulia - Get well soon.
* R. Morris - Hmmm, so you've fallen behind Collins on the depth chart? WOW!
* J. Collins - A quick minute of nothingness...
* West - 3 minutes of nothingness...

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

So, a month ago, we said that we didn't have a problem with Coach Woodson. That was back when we were playing 10 players - we were winning, there was trust, the players weren't always in isolation plays, there was transition basketball...all was well. Things haven't gone off the rails and we're winning games, so this is really only a minor complaint pending the season remaining to get better, but someone has to ask the question of why Horford didn't get the ball consistently in this game. Someone has to ask the question of how Collins got ahead of Morris in the rotation. Someone has to ask the question of how Mario West got off the bench before Teague.

As we said, it's a non-issue if our guards stay fresh, not injured, and Bibby doesn't decline to the point that he's not starter worthy in 2010-2011, but's just borderline insane to not play Teague after he plays well. It just really makes no sense to us. We won the game, so we won't complain loudly, but I really don't think there is a plan for Teague in the same way we didn't have a plan for Law or several other players. Please show us there is a plan.

Str8 Talk Love

Big up to the lovely Coco for accompanying us to the game and for giving us Hawks 101 while doing it. Also, big up to Will and everyone who STAYED for the game through the last second. I don't remember the last time I hugged someone after the game. Thanks Coco...

Dance Team/Game Ops update - More good work from the Atlanta Hawks dance team...not perfection, but we're getting there ladies.

Shout Outs - See above

Final Notes - Teague's DNP aside - great victory vs. the Suns and thanks to Jamal for making it so.

Season Prediction

We're ready to give us a 52-30 regular season and only one team left to really slay and that's Orlando. It's almost time to get back on the division championship bandwagon...let's see how well we stand up to the 2nd half of the month, but so far - so good (yes, we're trying to get over the Orlando and New York losses).


CoCo said...

Yes, great hug! the only sad thing is I lost an earring celebrating. damn clip ons!

Xavier said...

ATL you pose an interesting question about Horford. There was a quote from AJC I think where Woody "pleaded" w/ Bibby to get Al the ball. So I'm not sure how much its the coaching and how much its the players as of to why he didn't get the ball more often. Reminds me of Orlando/Howard. But I do think part of the problem is Horford is not more commanding of the ball. As great as he was on Friday, me and my boy and couple of dudes in front of us literally fell out of our seats when Al caught a rebound in the paint, took a peak to see if anyone was behind him before he went up for a dunk in the 4th qtr. I just think his mentality is not be ultra agressive on offense and I think Woody or someone should coach him to be, if that makes sense. If I was Woody I wouldn't be upset if Al questioned me, Jamal, JJ and Bibby after watching the film from this game.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

@Xavier, I agree and I wish I had a press badge to ask it, but I think the point would really serve to help us with an understanding on whether the coach really holds much sway when dictating the offensive gameplan. He's often said that our offense is all about moving the basketball and we haven't seen much offensive play calling from Mike Woodson, so my question would be - are you calling for things and the players are ignoring you OR are you allowing the players the latitude to do what they think is best.

The former would say - you need more control of the inmates and the latter would say - well, that explains why our backcourt dominates the ball so much and that they don't necessarily know how to best attack a team during the game. It would say that those are areas where I am fine with Coach Woodson allowing freedom, but only if he's able to pull them in and say - hey, here's what's working and what isn't and where I'm asking for changes and then seeing them on the court. I certainly am trying to be impartial and figure that out. As much as people think I'm anti-Woodson (and I've definitely fed that a bit), I really want to understand our strategies and figure out what our identity is. It would seem that it should be transition and play through the frontcourt, but we play the opposite - is that the players or the coach? To your point, you're right - I think Al is a team player, but I also think as our best leader - he's got to get to the point where he demands what's best for the team. Is it up to him to do that or up to our coach to highlight? Or a combination? I don't really know just yet, but I sure how we figure it out before the playoffs.