Aftermath

So the trade deadline passes, with the Hawks this time standing pat, as opposed to last year’s game-changing move.

While we don’t, and likely never will know what conversations ensued between Sund and the representatives of other teams, we kind of have to assume that some did take place. And likely, none of them were enticing enough for a trigger to be pulled. So, was that a good thing, or a bad thing? One view says that the Hawks needed to add another veteran big man. Another says that this roster is set, and needs no further re-tooling, as this team has shown itself capable of holding down the 4th best spot in the Eastern Conference standings through the first 54 games of the season. With a flurry of moves elsewhere, including East-West swaps, it’s not easy to tell if this was the best non-move to make or not. Then again, one would have to know what offers or ideas came up to better judge the lack of action. Either way, the season, like the trade deadline, passes on.  As it is, Hawks GM Rick Sund has stated that the organization will have the most flexibility to make moves in the offseason. What remains to be seen is just how much advantage is taken by Sund and the Hawks at that time. But that makes for another story on another day.

Having dispatched the lowly (but moderately dangerous) Sacramento Kings, the Hawks now go and face the much more potent TrailBlazers. In some ways, this team is our cross-conference mirror image, as they also hold the 4th spot in the West. Like us, they find themselves in the middle of a hotly contested race for their spot (though we have a bit more breathing room at the moment).  And they too have a variety of weapons that can strike from any corner of the court. Both teams do better when sharing the ball and involving their frontcourt players.

Of course, this contest is nearly always headlined by the Joe Johnson/Brandon Roy matchup. And it should be, as both players arguably hold the keys to their teams, as team leaders. In the meantime, the matchup that is surely no less important happens to be between LaMarcus Aldridge and whoever is assigned to guard him. Since Oden is out (again), Pryzbilla may be employed as the starting center. That matches him with the shorter, but hardy and determined Al Horford. Meanwhile, Josh Smith will face Aldridge (and vice versa). If Aldridge is employed as the center, then Horford may draw that assignment while Smith will tackle either Outlaw or Batum. Either way, Horford and Smith have to be up to the task, or the Hawks will quickly find themselves up the proverbial creek. Notice I said Horford AND Smith. These two guys share a chemistry that makes them difficult to deal with on either end of the court, but it’s a chemistry that we have not seen of late. In this game, and in the ones that follow, they will have to find a way to rekindle that chemistry. Otherwise, the Hawks will have to rely on their backcourt duo to get by, and this is already a “50-50 at best” proposition.

In order for the Hawks to win this game and send a message, they have to go on the attack, on all fronts. Instead of worrying about how to stop Roy,  the Hawks need Joe Johnson to go right at him. Instead of trying to keep up with Aldridge and his ability to score outside as well as in, Horford and Smith need to put him on the defensive quickly. Pryzbilla is solid defensively, but he will not be able to keep up with our athletic front line, whether it’s in the full court, or cutting to the basket in the halfcourt. The Hawks should run whenever possible, and keep their collective feet on the throttle on offense. On defense, no open looks and no layup drills. Two guys that they’ll have to definitely keep tabs on: Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw. Both guys are quick and can get to the hoop, though Fernandez is superior in that regard. Neither, however, can be left open on the perimeter as both are right around 40% from beyond the arc. And while he is often overlooked, Steve Blake is a solid, if not flashy point guard who makes the right play far more often than not. Mike Bibby will have to keep him from making the easy/obvious plays and helping out Brandon Roy.

But let’s be honest. All eyes will be on Roy and Johnson.  Both are all-stars, and while Johnson went scoreless in the last all-star game, Roy more than made his presence felt. Some say that Roy is a carbon copy of Johson. Some say he’s better. Tomorrow night, we get to see who will do what in a matchup of two #4 seeds. Your thoughts, gentlemen (and ladies)?

194 comments Add your comment

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
12:09 am

Guys,

I have not done a good job of keeping up with this site. I checked the SPAM counter about an hour ago, and saw that many worthwhile comments have been counted as SPAM. I cleared them, but too late. However, the system has to learn what is SPAM and what is not, and hopefully clearing the comments that I did will help it to do so.

To help myself and Ando along with this, please send he or I an e-mail or simply post a short message on this forum to that affect, telling us so. I don’t know precisely what this new system constitutes as SPAM, or why. But we’ll get it straight, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks again.

Manny T and Niremetal, my personal apologies to you both.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
12:10 am

As well as any others who have had comments sucked into the virtual void.

Ariose

February 20th, 2009
12:48 am

Good post Ray, Portland has one of the slowest Paces in the game at 87 poessions per game I believe. So we defenetly need to get out and run.

Ray, you were spot on about our Bigs. They need to attack Early and Often. Marvin too….he needs to keep those SF’s destracted on the other end of the court.

For the first quater JJ and Bibby just need to be spot-up shooters….almost invisible. Them being the focal point of the offense all the time hurts us a lot. Also when JJ does get the ball he needs to make his moves a lot quicker. This puts the defense in panic-mode and forces them to foul. JJ needs to channel his inner Jordan and attack the rack. None of that wek floater crap.

As a matter of Fact I want Josh and Mavin to try and Jam on those guys EVERY TIME…..Horford just needs to crash the glass.

PASS THE BALL!!!! These last few games have been hard to watch becaus of Joe and Mike dominating the ball. These guys need to attack the rack.

*~Sir Links A Lot~*

Ariose

February 20th, 2009
12:51 am

[By now i'm sure you've all seen the Brandon Roy socuting report lol. But it never hurts to be overly prepared for what could possibly happen if we don't stay on our toes lol.....](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiCUNirJOFc)

Ariose

February 20th, 2009
12:53 am

Ray, my posts were just hijacked by the system….Maybe links Are couted as spam?

~Sir Links A Lot~

Ariose

February 20th, 2009
12:58 am

Huh? I guess they came back….

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
1:09 am

No worries, Ray. Probably was spam anyway…heh.

My better half is a Portland native and, of course, a die-hard Blazers fan. We talk a lot about the teams, and I follow the Blazers almost as closely as I do the Hawks.

Really, it’s remarkable how similar our teams are on the surface. We’re both young teams led by All-Star swingmen (who have some lead guard skills) who piled up a wealth of young talent through the draft. The Hawks actually have the advantage in the starting 5, I’d say, but what makes the Blazers a better team is depth and coaching.

The depth difference is especially visible in the frontcourt. Travis Outlaw is a frontrunner for 6th Man honors. Joel Przybilla is far better than anyone we have coming off the bench at center. He might not be athletic, and he might be a non-factor on offense, but if the Hawks don’t make more of an effort on the boards tomorrow night, he could get 20-25 rebounds. Then there’s Channing Frye. All three are better than any frontcourt backup we have. In the backcourt, they’ve got Rudy and Blake coming off the bench (now that Sergio has taken the starting PG job). Jerryd Bayless would be the first guard off the bench for most teams, but he gets DNP-CDs occasionally with Portland.

They’re 11 deep. They are, quite possibly, the deepest team in the NBA. And every single one of the guys mentioned above except Przybilla (29) and Blake (28) is 25 or younger.

And you wanna know why they’re so deep? Because McMillan consistently uses a 10-player rotation and develops his bench. Under him, Outlaw went from the 10th man on a bad team to a 6th Man Award contender. Blake went from a 3rd-string PG to a starter. Then Sergio did the same thing. Martell Webster made a similar stride before he got hurt this year. Bayless is starting on the same path as we speak – getting 15 minutes a game right now, and you know he’ll be getting 20-25 next year (after they trade Blake), and will be a solid starter by year 3 at the latest.

Think about this team next year and the year after if they keep it intact. VERY scary. These guys are a dynasty in the making.

It’s so damned frustrating. I have no doubt that Acie would thrive in a place like Portland, and so would Solomon Jones. Here, they just rot.

If you want a model of how to build a young team into a playoff-caliber team, you can look at the Hawks. But if you want a model of how to develop a young team into a contender, you need to look at Portland.

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
1:17 am

Ah, spoke too soon on the Sergio thing. I thought I read that he would keep starting for at least a couple more weeks while Blake recovered from his injury, but it looks like they have Blake penciled back in at the top of the depth chart.

In any case, the fact that Sergio was ready to step up, start for over a month in Blake’s absence, and help lead the Blazers to a winning record during that time shows how well Portland develops its bench. When a starter goes down, there’s someone ready to fill in without skipping a beat.

Ariose

February 20th, 2009
1:23 am

Exellent Analysis Matt..erm I mean niremetal ;-)

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
1:31 am

Niremetal,

Good insight as usual, particularly on Portland’s depth and coaching approach.

Ariose,

Looking into it…

doc

February 20th, 2009
7:19 am

nire. if you have kept up i have many times referred to the difference in styles between the two coaches. you have subtly alluded to it as well. it may well be the difference in the trajectory of each f these franchises in the coming years, possibly tonight. mcmillan is a coach who coached em up without crying out for more vets. he has got guys playing his style of ball and holds himself and each coach accountable for getting the most out of every player. if they dont get it he states right up front it is his fault and he will do a better job. many times i have spoken of their imaginative approach to young players, his accountability system for the coaches and more impressively recognized outlaw for his special talents, the trouble he had learning a system in the old fashion way and devised a special form of practice to make sure the young kid got it. it has paid in spades dont you think. great summary by the way. thanks for taking the time to write it.

you too ray, you and your partner are stellar.

mcmillan and/or karl = COY

oldmike

February 20th, 2009
8:15 am

Love the analysis in this post. Question: Has this team shown the ability to do any of those things on a night in night out basis? I think the answer is no! Although they have been snatching victory from ther jaws of defeat this year where in the past the exact opposite was the norm. What of the Garnett injury? Any updates? That would throw the East wide open…

O'brien

February 20th, 2009
12:41 pm

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the “BK passed on Roy” comments. But that’s a good thing. becuase there is nothing we can do about that now.

As mentioned above, coaching maybe the Blazers biggest advantage over us. McMillan was a good coach in Seattle, and he has been a good coach in Portland.

At the start of the game, we need to get our front court involved. If we don’t, they might phase themselves out of the game, and stand around watching Bibby and JJ. And if we get behind early, it will be tough to come from behind, especially with Woody’s coaching.

I can hear Woody now…”When you spot a team that many points, it’s hard to come back. We made a run late, but came up short in the end.”

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
3:14 pm

There are some good comments on hear. Good work guys…

The one thing I learn about these Hawks this year is that they are too inconsistent to predict how they will perform from game to game. Each game takes on its own identity. Just because they won a nail bitter in Sacramento doesn’t mean they will get blown out in Portland. So I try to evaluate these guys as the game is playing (if that makes sense). However, I would prefer a more consistent level of play (especailly at a winning level) but I accept them as they are and hope this is maturation process that they are going thru….

Ray,
I needed you last nite. Someone broke into one of my properties that I’m renovating. Luckily, I had nothing of value that they could take (did they really think I would leave valuables in there). However they did damage my brand new french doors. Stupid me, I have the doors boarded shut from the outside and I normally leave the french doors unlock and slightly open on the inside just in case someone was clever enough to unscrew the boards on the outside. However, for some strange reason, I locked the doors on the inside and they decide to come thru them anyway. Dang it, sometimes I outsmart myself. Sort of like when Woody overcoaches during the game…huh

dap01

February 20th, 2009
3:29 pm

Would any of you take a shot at the just released Sene? Any other FA big?

MannyT

February 20th, 2009
6:04 pm

No worries, Ray. I have been posting into the Null Void for a long time in the other blog.

Ariose, this is a WordPress blog. It does not take the same codes as Sekou’s deal.

Some of the std WordPress options may not work as expected, but that’s another deal for folks behind the scenes. Here, I just a participant.

Anyhow, the trade deadline highlights shifting expectations. However, unlike baseball, the late season pcik ups are not as easy in the NBA. I am happy with the progress the team has made so far. We need to see how far we can ride these guys and hope for the best. We will be in decent shape come the summer due to our expiring contracts (and Bibby’s age. I doubt anyone will offer him an avg of 15 mil/season for any number of years, so he gets a pay cut.)

As for tonight, I always like to see how we measure up against Portland. More than a heat check, it is a franchise check . We know we lose the ownership piece and probably the coach piece. How are we doing on that player talent piece.

Looking forward to a good game.

BWAF

truth-serum

February 20th, 2009
6:46 pm

I do like the Hawks. I have always been a fan. Having said that its time for a dose of reality. The Hawks like any serious contending NBA team cant win with out a center. It is the piece that they miss. Pachula is a liability clearly! How many turnovers does he have in the low post? Alot. Why cant he finish in the post? His hand are made of rocks. Hartford is an excellent powerforward…but never a center.
Every time the Hawks face a team that has a legitimate center guess who wins? The team with the center…This is a no brainer… a DUH?!?!! of major porportions.
Camby anyone?
How demoralizing is it to know that your owners/GM wont do what it takes to win? Very demoralizing to both players and fans!
With these facts clearly evidenced the Hawks although they are my beloved and a good team, will never be champions…Why? because the owners and General Managements arent Champions.
The only way we as fans will see a basketball champion is to watch one in another city……

richbrave

February 20th, 2009
7:56 pm

HEY HB:

Should we par-boil and strip these birds before we chow down. I’ve never made a crow pie before.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
9:56 pm

RichBrave,

No feasting until the end of the year.

I look forward to a magnificent contest this evening. I will be around for the entire game. As the old deodorant commercials used to say, “Anything less would be uncivilized.”

Doc,

E-mail answered. Have your reading glasses, a snack, and a cup of coffee. It will be a long one. And that was after I cut half of it off. Enjoy.

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:24 pm

We look good on the break. We seem to have energy early tonight. Amazing.Seeing Marvin and Josh get off early boads well.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
10:27 pm

Josh and Al have rekindled their chemistry.

Smith has come to play, and it is clear that our success centers around…you guessed it…the heavy involvment of our frontcourt players.

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:29 pm

Been awhile since the front court is involved in the first of the game. Looka mighty mighty good.

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
10:31 pm

JJ’s filling up the stat sheet early and KevinA called it – nice to see our forwards playing with energy

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:31 pm

I think we split the remaining games. Tonight we could win by 15 or lose by 15. If it comes down to the last 2 min I like our chances. The one we do know is what we don’t know. If JJ and Bibby play well we can and will beat elite teams. If they don’t we can only beat weak or tired teams if Marvin, Josh, Flip, ZaZa, Al or a combination of them have great games. The fun thing about the Hawks and the thing that makes you pull your hair out is you never what team will show up. We have several identities. The only constant is Woodys coaching. He’ll be mad at everybody except Bibby and JJ. If this prediction is correct I don’t think the teams back of us can win 19 out of thirty and take the third spot. Clev, Boston and Orland just to tough.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
10:34 pm

KevinA,

We’ve always been pretty good on the break.

Bibby seems to have taken something from Sac-Town. I just saw his long-missing patented drive-in midrange jumper. That was good to see.

Aldridge is such a tough matchup. Even for the electric Smith. He’s so long, and he’s 6′11 to boot.

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:35 pm

Except fot the turnovers we look good tonight.

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
10:37 pm

WTF? Burning a 20-sec timeout with 0.9 seconds left in the quarter? Ok…

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
10:37 pm

Why in the HELL would Woody waste 20 second timeout to draw up a play to end the 1st qtr… MY GOOSH he’s terrible… Did I mention sub Joe back in the game to shoot the falling out of bounds to shoot the .9 second shot… Can we fire him now…

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:48 pm

I wish we could mike Woody for a couple of games to see what he really says. I wish we had streaming chat instead of the 5 min waits. I wish Bibby could stop anybody. And then again he drains one. And then a three.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
10:48 pm

Now THAT was a great play by Joe. Absolutely great play. Joe penetrates, breaking down the defense, then zips it to an open Bibby.

Great, great play Joe.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
10:53 pm

Pryzbilla, Aldridge…the Blazers are big, even without Oden, who would be complicating things even worse.

Hawks have to block out better, fight harder on the boards. These second chance points by the Blazers are hurting us. Where’s Solo in times like these? Woody and his doghouse…

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
10:53 pm

We are giving up way too many 2nd chance points….

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
10:53 pm

Good blockout and rebound by Solo.

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
10:56 pm

We’re falling in love with 3pt line…

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
10:59 pm

By going to the front court early you notice how our jump shots are more open? Amazing concept. Our offence actually has some flow tonight.

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
10:59 pm

When was the last time we saw Mo Evans drive the ball to the goal…

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
11:00 pm

I don’t know what’s worse about that 3 that Bibby just shot: the fact that it was too quick, or the fact that it afforded ‘Nique the chance to say “heat check”….and he said it of course….

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
11:04 pm

The Blazers have Bayless, Blake, Roy, Outlaw, and Aldridge on the floor. Do we post up? No, of course not…

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
11:05 pm

We played 23 mins of good basketball in the 1st half… Lets see if Mo Evans play in the 2nd half b/c had Acie made that ill-advise foul like Evans did, we would be back on the plane to Atlanta by the end of halftime… Good thing Blake bail us out by going 1-3 from the free throw line…

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
11:05 pm

Bibby JJ and Josh are playing to many min. in a well contested game. Will our legs and effort be sustainable?

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
11:07 pm

Haha…yeah, Ray. I’m watching on League Pass which means I get the Blazers’ TV feed, complete with Blazers announcers. As soon as Bibby shot that, I could hear ‘Nique saying “heat check” in my mind…

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
11:16 pm

Well this one has indeed turned into a dandy. Hawks have to come back even hungrier in the second half, as the Blazers will be looking to come out quick, hit us in the mouth, and glide out with the win.

We can’t let that happen.

Gotta tighten up those turnovers and cut down on the Blazers’ second chance points.

‘Nique is wrong: Bibby has NOT been shooting like this ALL YEAR LONG. He’s spent more time shooting from 3 point range. He’s finally getting back to his midrange game, as he did against Sac-Town.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
11:23 pm

Dumb shot by Josh…

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
11:35 pm

Steve Smith used to drive me crazy by saying – well if you take a look at it or oh well when you take a look at it. Just saying.

KevinA

February 20th, 2009
11:40 pm

They have hit us in the mouth. JJ and Bibby hot – can we pull it out? We need to go back to our front court.

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
11:40 pm

Heh. Here we go. Blazers up by 10 and rolling. Can we get up after getting punched in the face, or will we fold again?

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
11:42 pm

And there you have it….Hawks have a 4 on 2 break and JJ shots a jumper and missed. Hawks get the offensive rebound and Bibby shots a 3 pt shot and missed. Blazers comes down and hit a 3pt shot. 10 pt lead Blazers. Even the Blazers mention how tired Joe and Bibby look and the continue to hoist 3pt shots instead of slowing game down and playing thru Josh and Horford in the post. Which had good success in the 1st half….

niremetal

February 20th, 2009
11:43 pm

The Blazers make a run. Now it’s time to watch the Hawks turn into a jump-shooting team and fold like a cheap deck of cards.

Melvin

February 20th, 2009
11:44 pm

Dang first Mo fouls Blake shooting a desperate 3pt shot to in the 1st half and next he give up a layup to end the 3rd qtr…. And Acie has yet to play tonite…

Big Ray

February 20th, 2009
11:53 pm

Horford takes too long when setting up for an offensive move. He’s got to learn to be quicker off the draw. Either start taking (and making) that 15-17 foot jumper, or all those fakes will continue to mean absolutely nothing to a defender.