I am always aware of the fortune I have in getting the opportunity to see my favorite NBA team up close and personal almost whenever I want. That coupled with this forum for expression of things that the normal fan doesn't have access to. I don't say that with any boastfulness - just gratitude, so during this game - there was no shortage of excitement when I found that my seats were going to be right behind the Atlanta Hawks bench...yep, Mike Woodson cam in full effect. So, here's what we saw as the Hawks won their 50th game and continue their run to the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.
Game Recap - Hawks 107, Raptors 101
- I don't know the best way to prepare for a playoff series, but the fact that other teams are resting their players for the playoffs keeps me from believing that rest trumps rhythm going into the playoffs - Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, you're on the clock.
- It's really hard to explain how badly the Hawks started this game. Osh's energy level was particularly poor. Even Al looked like he didn't particularly care to play hard...
- Point, Peachtree Hoops...Mike Bibby looked like the only halfway capable point guard on the team yesterday (that's me eschewing any pretense that Jamal is a point guard). Now, I blame Coach Woodson for why it's so and the lack of opportunities to make up for 3-4 minutes of poor play, but Jeff Teague looked mighty bad out there last night. I repeat - don't expect any postseason minutes for Jeff Teague.
- Soooooo...the Raptors outplayed us for most of the game - not bad effort when without one of the best players in the NBA. Still waiting for the dominate gene to kick in for my team. Really tiring of hearing - we aren't where we need to be. At game 79, let's add the proper addendum "and that's not going to happen until tactics change or personnel changes"
- Another 4 pt play by Jamal. I've seen some questionable ones, but that was a legit - smack the arm, make the 3 anyway - 4pt play. Yep, Jamal is a shotmaker for sure...
- Welcome back, Joe Johnson - we missed you...
- One more time for the energy of Maurice Evans and Zaza Pachulia
- Interestingly enough - if Toronto played ANY defense and stopped shooting 3 pt shots - they could have won that game going away..thanks Raptors!!!!
- I know that it's rare that you get all the players paying attention during TOs, but I thought it was telling that there seemed to only be guards paying attention to Mike Woodson during each timeout. That can't be good.
- I noticed something that I don't think I've ever seen (and again, maybe this is my lack of NBA basketball bench dynamics knowledge), but I watched on FIVE occasions where a player was summoned into the game by Mike Woodson and they looked at the coach and....CONTINUED to sit. First, this happened with Al Horford (and most demonstrably) where he was asked 3 times to go into the game. Everyone around us looked at each other to see if we were watching Al not go into the game. Now, I don't know why and maybe this happens all the time, but it certainly was interesting to see the coach seemingly ignored. This happened in the second half with Josh and Marvin... This did not happen with Maurice, Mario, or Jeff who looked all too eager to get their minutes.
- Why this mattered to me is three fold. First, I've never watched a player not go into a game up close and personal. Heard about it, but never seen it happen and certainly was shocked to see Al simply sit. Second, it made some sense of my assertion that the Hawks win in spite of the attempts to coach. Maybe at this level - players can manage things themselves...and that's accepted. It's not like anyone was blinking or nudging the players to go into the game from the coaching staff or other players. Third, it broke my belief that the coach is the ruler of all that happens on the sideline. My belief in a coach's power has forever been changed. Maybe Jeff Teague is getting called to go into the game in the 2nd half and he's saying - NO!
- Other notes regarding this time behind the bench. No one talks to Jeff Teague. Throughout the game or after he makes mistakes - I saw yelling to the court, but no coaching is happening with the young man. At least not during the game...
- It was also a little disconcerting to watch Horford have an open disagreement with Coach Woodson for about 1 minute complete with a wave off...the same wave off that Josh gave, a similar wave off that Mario West (yes, Mario West) gave after the dumb foul once he got in the game, and another animated discussion Marvin and Mike Woodson had during free throw attempts by the Raptors. Now, it is entirely plausible that this happens with all teams - it could be that the team dynamic allows for frustration and carping about things and it all going away after the game, but it didn't feel like there was a synergy for what was happening. There was just lots of frustration, very few offensive play calls, and lots of yelling that never really changed what happened on the court (save shots just falling)
Sorry, I have to say that - can we get this prediction right please? 52-30, 3rd seed...