Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Game Where Fears Are Realized

Preamble Ramble

Let me explain very clearly what went through my head before this game - it went something like...I don't care if we win or lose, but I do want to see us compete well and I want to see if Coach Woodson will tell me that effort is the reason we lose (if we lose). Let me explain what went through my head during the game - it went something like...Atlanta Spirit and Rick Sund, I blame you for not having enough talent on the team that Mario West is playing minutes in this game and then, it went something like...Coach Woodson, if I'm an agent - I would never let a developing player sign with a team you are coaching unless I'm a project that you happen to have a lot of affection for personally. Let's get to it...I apologize in advance if this sounds like much of what I said in the offseason about this team's makeup and outlook.

Game Recap - Hornets 109, Hawks 100

The points that need repeating:
  • The Hawks will not be a championship team without strong leadership, role knowledge, and a bench longer than 8 players.
  • Yes, that was me at the Hawks Blogger Night this year who asked the question - are you worried about our backcourt depth, Mr. Sund? His response: "No, we have Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, AND Maurice Evans and Mario West." I also recall Mike Woodson saying - "you don't think that if we have injuries I won't play Jeff Teague." I'll simply reply to this by saying - 1) I will continue to say that the Hawks either are too cheap (which could easily be the case) or not savvy enough to realize that Larry Hughes, Michael Finley, or a host of D-Leaguers would be better served in our backcourt than Mario West and (if you'd play them more than Teague) Jeff Teague and 2) I called BS then and I'm calling it now...with 2.5 guards available to you - you managed to only play Jeff Teague 22 minutes.
  • Regarding Jeff Teague, it's what I have said since day 1. First, I didn't think he'd play much and I questioned whether he was really the right point guard for this team, but once you get beyond that - the fatal flaw for Coach Woodson's point guard development plan is that it's completely predictable that Teague would look scared and lack some confidence in his first few times playing with the starters. IF this would have happened in November and December instead of April, we might see the value he could bring. Woodson's inability to play his bench players through their mistakes or slumps only contributes to this issue. You can rest assured that if any one else was available, Teague's first stint of bad basketball would have been the ONLY stint of basketball last night, but like all other players (and as our starters are quite familiar) - if you come back to them, the law of averages and their talent will eventually bring benefits. It's no surprise at HawkStr8Talk HQ that once Jeff settled down during his 3rd stint of the game that he actually let his natural talent carry him to made jump shots, fast breaks, and assists and played on the level of anything I've seen from Mike Bibby 90% of this season.
  • A few of our blog followers asked me to write another Marvin vs. Mo blog. I think I'll let this game footage simply be my Marvin to the bench blog. With about 25 shots available to be had, Marvin managed 4 and looked bad doing it. I'll continue to say it - start Mo and make Marvin earn his way back into the starting lineup (or simply let him find some aggressiveness on the 2nd unit). Save all that - we need him on defense and the boards stuff. If we need him on defense vs. LeBron or Pierce, etc then start him for those games. Otherwise, Maurice Evans is a better fit for our starting 5 than Marvin Williams and you can't convince me otherwise.
  • One more shout for veteran leadership, mental toughness, rebounding, and all that jazz
  • Tell me again about our defensive prowess...and why when it fails us - it's effort and not tactics. Again, I'll simply say - by itself, switching defense isn't bad. As our only option and when it fails, it's pretty awful.
Final Note: So, how do I feel? Basically, I was very ready to say that this game is meaningless, but then I realized it's game 77 and we looked like crap on the road. No, I'm not willing to cede the fact that Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby weren't there as the reason. Why? B/c that's why you build depth and have leaders and have pride and develop toughness. That's why you have a coach with a game plan. All season, we have had the luxury (or curse if you ask me to a degree) of being healthy. The downside to that is that your bench has never truly been without the crutch of the starters. So, as we go into the postseason hobbled (how I wish the issue of minute distribution and older players wearing down was not dancing in my head right now?) at the position we depend on most, you would probably have me believe that it's the injuries. I will reject that and say that I believe the organization is to blame and, unlike most Hawks fans, I'm not going to accept an injury excuse this offseason. I didn't accept it last season since I felt that the biggest issue was that we never used our bench effectively enough that they could compete like the Bulls or Rockets did amidst equal (and some bigger) injury concerns in the playoffs and I certainly won't accept it this season after hearing from our management and coaching staffs that we are deeper and more equipped to handle injuries.

Looking like my prediction of 52-30 is not in some jeopardy...gonna stick to my guns though.


CoCo said...

Tell em why you're mad Luv. And, you're wrong about ticket prices. They were tiered this season. That is a fact. Anyway, These growing pains that Jeff Teague gets to go through just days before the playoffs, are growing pains he should have been going through in January. And the thing that really annoys me is the fact that there have been guys from the D League coming in absolutely killing it this season, yet we've decided that Mario West is the best we can do. I don't want to hear anything else about Mario's defensive prowess. One would like to think if he were that good defensively, our head coach would find more than a few minutes per game for him when some random guard is dropping 30 on the Hawks. I love Mario's story as much as the next, but this is the NBA and there are better options. One thing that should not get lost about that meeting we had with Sund, is he never said he had Championship aspirations for the team this year. The way they've gone about conducting business it's obvious that it's not just something he never got around to mentioning. They are going to be happy with a second round out (if they even get that far) Mike Woodson is a prime candidate for getting out-coached by either of the teams below the Hawks with the exception of maybe Toronto. I used to think making it to the 2nd rd was a foregone conclusion, but not anymore.

Anonymous said...


Forrest said...

Got to it before I could.. ^ that article was great.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Anonymous - I just have to post that link...that's a great post. Basically says everything I've been saying about how we've treated Acie Law, Salim Stoudamire, and Jeff Teague. (and even Mario West in the reverse - he's getting a chance that his talent doesn't even reflect he deserves). Post coming up...