Thursday, April 1, 2010

Game Recap - Hawks/Lakers (All kinds of Awesome)

Preamble Ramble

Always want to do a perspective filled blog, so it took a minute before this could be submitted. If you were one of the people who comes to one game a year or rarely watches anything but the big games, let me be the first to say it – the Hawks looked damn good, our bench outplayed their bench, our coach outcoached maybe the best coach of all time, and there was not a point in the game when the Hawks were not better than world champion Los Angeles Lakers. For that group, playoff tickets should be scooped up in short order and expectations should be sky high for the upcoming run for a NBA title. For those who do more than that (like a blogger or Hawks lover), then you can still have sky high excitement for last night’s game (I sure do), but let me use the observations section to communicate why you might want to scale back your thoughts a bit.

Game Recap - Hawks 109, Lakers 92

Overall Observations:

  • First, it’s a packed Hawks Gear Store after the Magic game, now a post game, Philips Arena corridor-filled with fans cheering ‘Let’s Go Hawks’. Complain about the Laker fans being a part of the record crowd all you want, but if you ever want to see the Highlight Factory filled with Hawks fans – THAT’S how you achieve it.
  • That the Hawks so thoroughly dispatched the Lakers either is very exciting or makes losing the Knicks at home twice even MORE vexing, particularly when a few of those unforgivable losses are the difference between us and the #2 seed. Take your pick or be both.
  • If I’m going to say for Teague and Bibby and for the 2nd year for Evans and Williams, I guess I’m going to have to say it for Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmer – yes, Farmer should be starting for the LA Lakers.
  • While we’re talking about Bibby and Teague, this would have been one of those games where despite my call for a starting position for Teague – I would have started Bibby (you see, unlike some people, I’m not rigid about this starting thing…it’s called making adjustments for a reason).
  • Might as well talk about Evans and Williams too – simply put, Maurice Evans plays off of the other starters much better than Marvin. I’ve been saying it for 2 years and I think last night is the best case example for that fact. I’d much rather have Marvin being an active, aggressive offensive player playing off Crawford and coming in to bring defense with the starters than what’s happening right now. After that first bucket, Marvin was done for the night. Sorry, but I still only recall about 6 games this entire season where I felt like – Marvin, you really were a stud tonight worthy of starting for this team (that shouldn’t be confused with me believing he hasn’t been a factor all season, just saying that only 6 times did I think his effort made an idea to have Maurice Evans start the game and play with the starters was a bad idea).
  • Might as well get used to it, Hawks fans – Josh is getting the jump shot ready for the playoffs. That’s the only explanation I have. Seriously.
  • Now, to the first downer bullet, this game really only showed you what a focused Hawks team can do, but what it shouldn’t do is make you think the Hawks are capable of being consistently focused? There isn’t a team in the league that has a hard time with focus when the LA Lakers come to town (talent maybe, but focus and desire to beat the Lakers…not a chance). For those who haven’t been paying attention, only once in the last 8 years have the Hawks not beaten the Lakers? So, it’s what I tweeted before the game – sun’s out, people out early, downtown buzzing, I feel a W coming.
  • Sure would like to know what Joe Smith did to get nailed to the bench lately…
  • Finally, as an example of why Phil Jackson is who he is, not only has he been blasting his WESTERN CONFERENCE LEADING team in the media, using different tactics and lineups, but he actually played Adam Morrison in the first quarter to get something out of his team. Didn’t work, but it’s simply the reason why we do doubt Woody so much. It isn’t always as simple as saying ‘effort and the sh#$ works’ when a title is what you are striving for.

Str8 Butter Award – Maurice Evans/Zaza Pachulia – man, if we can see these dudes playing at this level for the playoffs – I promise not to cap our hopes at 2nd round playoff loss. Seriously, well – that’s if Woodson will actually deploy them in the same way where he actually gives stellar play more minutes and not going back to starters just because they are starters.

Starter Kudos/Smackdown -

* M. Williams – In my mind, this starting slot has been lost. Convince me otherwise someone…
* Josh Smith – We’ve already noted the point of Josh’s jump shot ad nauseum, so we’ll make our next step the removal of Josh’s J…next jump shot you miss Josh and you’re Osh. That said, that fool had some serious passes last night. Remove LeBron from the discussion and there’s serious merit to calling Josh one of the best passing forwards in the L.
* M. Bibby – Love how Bibby came out the box. With a PG like Derek Fisher, there’s no doubt that Bibby should have started this game. I’ll take Bibby over Fisher in on court play every day of the week.
* J. Johnson – An excellent game..truly, the kind befitting a guy making the scratch Joe makes.

* A. Horford – Not that Al did anything wrong, but it was refreshing to see him sit while Zaza brought the heat.

Bench Kudos/Smackdown

* J. Crawford – Still a little scared of his shot selection, but we have to just continue to hope that Mike Woodson keeps the leash on tight.
* J. Teague – Seriously, did I watch Jeff Teague do well in the first half & then come back and actually play again in the 2nd half. Did that just happen? I’m not sure what happened, but I’m not betting on it continuing. That said…Teague played 2 stints in a game that wasn’t over (well, it was, but we weren’t sure at the time).
* M. Evans – That’s Mo as in momentum…from the time he got in the game, momentum was his. I mean I don’t think I’ve ever seen Marvin go at anyone the way Mo went at Kobe. Way to make me look like a guy who knows a little something for continuing to call for your starting job.
* Z. Pachulia – Zaza, really – words can’t really express how proud we are of you and now, you’ve raised my expectation of you for every game left in this season
* Joe Smith – DNP – For real, did you drop your album and piss Mike off?
* M. West – Well, at least you got a foul in to ensure that there wasn’t zeros across the board…

* J. Collins – You really scored…yeah, Lakers definitely were in the clubs on Tuesday night

* R. Morris – Inactive –

Coaching Kudos/Smackdown

Straight up – I don’t think I’ve ever said this…wait, I did when we defeated the Jazz at home last year, but it probably hasn’t been said more than twice – Mike Woodson was the best coach on the court when faced with a Hall of Fame coach. Use of the bench, letting players who played well stay on the court, resting players once the game was in hand, managing game situations…it almost makes you feel comfortable with the guy for the postseason. We won’t mention one word that could take something away from this. (We could, but we won’t)

So, I just want to say hats off to Coach Mike Woodson on getting a team ready to play in what was our most complete game all season.

Str8 Talk Love

There’s really no way to express how the energy before, during, and after was during this game. The Lakers bring it like none other. Lakers Suck, Let’s Go Hawks post-game, pictures, all kinds of jerseys and what not…it was simply devine. Now, we had our perch in the Club Level, but it was seen all over Twitter, Facebook, and every media outlet…the Hawks arrived. Every celeb in town was there, every groupie was in tow, and they even did us a solid by ensuring that the Lakers were partying ATL style right before the game. This certainly wouldn’t happen in a NBA Finals series, but hey – we take what we can get. It is our home team advantage…

Dance Team/Game Ops update – It’s hard to say what happened after Keri Hilson messed up the national anthem – it was simply a complete carousel of flesh from that point forward, but I did catch the Dance Team and they did a great job. I don’t say that much, but it was the kind of energetic performance that was needed. Thanks for recognizing the crowd dynamics and matching the performance to it.

Shout Outs – Big up to the regulars and well, everyone else. See you next year (or in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals).

Final Notes – None – it was awesome, it can’t be expressed how awesome it was.

Season Prediction

52-30...we’d like to say that we’re going to do better, but I just have to follow my head and know that we can easily lose (not wishing it, just saying our norm is to lose focus after such displays) 4 of our last 8. That said, let’s go Hawks!!!

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