I know that I have become as reliable as The Vent (i.e. not!) in the sea of consistent bloggers like Peachtree Hoops/The Human Highlight Blog, Hoopinion, and Soaring Down South, but there's still room for me in the blogosphere for the purpose of what I call - the reality check...
Now, that's not to say that these other blogs don't have great blogs (they do) and opinions and purposes, but I think there's a lane that we serve well and that's to continue to determine what was learned that highlights whether or not we can win a title with this team (either this season or in future seasons). And so, we are back to an analysis that we made last year (one that I feared ever saying again), so check out the countdown:
1. So, while all of the naysayers have debunked my brazen attempt to get Jeff Teague on the court by communicating why Bibby should start, I give you more evidence of why Teague shouldn't be so scary...as I mentioned - several players in this league start and yet don't play significant crunch time minutes - in the past three games, those players were Stephen Graham, Antonio McDyess, and wait for it....Rookie of the Year candidate BRANDON JENNINGS. It was affirming to see Luke Ridnour not only get the bulk of the PG minutes off the bench, but also performed well in his stead. And it certainly isn't lost on me that the Bucks are 15-2 and one of the hottest teams (definitely hotter than us and suddenly a team I don't want to see in the postseason) in the league - while starting a rookie point guard who is often not getting the crunch time minutes. Again, I say - if Bibby's not providing any defense and isn't playing much offense - playing Teague should just not be so scary.
2. Now, forget my little diatribe about Teague starting, I'll simply provide this regarding him simply playing. 3 games in 4 days...Teague 11 minutes, 2-2 from the field, 1 assist, 0 TOs, +/- of 7 and a DNP. Again, forget a desire to develop Teague - it would just seem that if you want your best players to be rested and want an extra spark when playing 3 games in 4 days - you'd find more than 11 minutes in THREE GAMES for the young point guard who when on the court did very little wrong.
3. Josh Smith - you are a great player and we think you can get even better. And so, while we've done very little of this all season with regard to losing perspective regarding what great things you do on the court - we'll just say it again...there's something wrong when you believe that you are a jump shooter. Part of that is you and part of that is our coaching staff, but when you take your shooting percentage over your career outside the paint and conclude that despite fans' eyeballs, other team's willingness to allow you to, and empirical evidence saying otherwise that you'll keep taking jump shots - well, I feel no worry with regard to my belief that our ceiling is a 2nd round loss.
4. Joe Johnson - You too are a great player and I'm not going to get mad at you because you took two very tough shots to win the ball game. There's really no difference between the first one and the 2nd one (save the time you had to set up the last one) with respect to the fact that we did what we always do - we didn't set up a play. We said Joe or Jamal if you get it - make something happen. When you do that - this happens. Sometimes, you get amazing shots and sometimes you don't. I don't know why Joe has to be blamed for that. He's doing what he's always done and what the coach and team support (or uh, let) him doing.
5. Marvin Williams - I'll say it again...Marvin you can be a great role player or even an above average small forward in this league, but someone should be putting a foot in your behind when you can follow up a stellar effort with a STINKER.
6. So, this all brings me to what I didn't want to say...so, we win 2 out of 3 games. The Spurs game was a great comeback and showed some heart and fortitude. The Bobcats win was a good win and one that we were lucky to win, but we fought...great job to stay in it and to highlight why our frontcourt is so important. The Bucks game was a great effort game, but what drives me crazy is feeling like other teams are getting better. The thing I kept saying to myself is - are the Hawks better now as a team than they were in the preseason? When we were 19-6, there was a thought about the Hawks. Are we still that good? Do you see us atop the Power Rankings? Are we being discussed as Eastern Conference contenders? And the answer is no. I see Cleveland getting BETTER with Powe (and while still without Shaq and Big Z), I see the Bucks getting better, I see injuries not impacting the Lakers, I see the Celtics still inconsistent, but while adding pieces into their rotation. I see the Bobcats getting better - the Mavs getting better. I see teams gearing up for the postseason and doing things to get better.
I see the Hawks and I don't see that progression. Nothing to note and say we're doing better. Same 4th quarter inconsistency, same herk and jerk with the bench, same regression with regard to Josh's ability to eliminate the jump shot from his shot selection, and so it continues. No new wrinkles in the offense or defense for opposing teams to account for. So, I will just stand up and say what I said a long time ago and that's that - the Hawks number one barrier to winning a title and even to evaluating this team is Mike Woodson. I won't criticize the players because I truly don't believe they are being coached. I believe he put in a philosophy and then rolls out the ball. that's it. No evidence has shown anything else. If we don't play defense, nothing happens. If we don't play good offense, nothing happens. Nothing happens to change our fate. So, when my coach says he needs to see the tape to see why we lose games, I say - how hard is it to see from a courtside seat? Is it hard to see that you never stopped a hot player over the course of a 4th quarter? Is it hard to see that you count on the same 6 players in the 2nd half every single game? Is it hard to see that your frontcourt barely touched the ball and when they did - they produced?
What's hard about that? Again, I love the Hawks. I think we're having a good season. That's about though...Continue to cheer, but my expectations for a title while he is coach remain at zero. Carry on, Hawks fans...
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