Archive for March, 2009

Around The Rim

Around the rim.

Such a simple, unassuming fragment of a sentence that seems.  Sounds like one of those short answers or descriptions you hear both in rural and urban settings all the time. “Over yonder”, ” ‘Round the corner”, “Up the Street”, “Around the way.” Stuff like that, right?

Yet for Hawks and their fans, there is much meaning in this fragment, this piece of a statement, this seemingly colorless shred of adjective. No, this is no over-used, cliched parcel of catch phrase, of John Madden-like proportions. For the Hawks, this is winning vs. losing. Good vs. Better. Enough vs. Not Quite.

Around the rim is where the Hawks need to make their most concerted effort to score. Lord knows they have enough weapons to do it. But it needs to be a consistent, steady, part of the offensive design. It’s something the Hawks need to start the game with. It’s something they have to be able to flip a switch and go to right away, particularly when their jump shots aren’t going in. All …

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Testing, Testing…Two and Three

Well, the Atlanta Hawks finally made it. 42 victories guaranteed the first winning season this for this ballclub in quite some time. How sweet it is. The Hawks have passed test one, which was to prove that they are true winners, by having a winning season. Now it’s time for test two. And three….

How far can this team go? Will they reach the magical mark of 50 wins? In the minds of some, the mark of 50 wins is the difference between the good and the even-better. It’s the next level. The border between the good and the elite. Or maybe it’s 55 wins. Who’s counting? Either way, 50 wins is an accomplishment. For the Hawks to accomplish this, they must win 8 of the last 11. So, this is test two, right?  Wrong.

Test two is finishing out the season. Last year, the Hawks could have won more than 37 games. It is emminently debatable just how many they could have won, but suffice it to say that a .500 record was NOT out of the question. Would it have made a difference? Absolutely. …

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Interchangeability… and a Missing Piece

Okay, everybody knows Cleveland just about can’t be beaten at home. Their lone loss there this season pretty much says it all. So a loss here, though not something you want to concede midway through the second quarter, is not something that would come as a completely unexpected occurrence.

But looking totally out of joint? Reverting back to a stagnant offensive approach that has rarely worked and had nothing to do with a 7-game winning streak? This is a surprise….or is it?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are arguably the NBA’s best team now, with arguably the NBA’s best player. They also have a very tough defense that is hands on ALL THE TIME. They’re not just tough, they’re smart. By baiting Josh Smith into 3 fouls (having to keep up with Lebron being the main reason why) , the Cavs have taken away one of the Hawks’ biggest offensive weapons. But this isn’t about the game against the Cavs, or the Cavs in general. This is about what happens when the Hawks are missing key players in …

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Strengthen Numbers

The title of this blog is probably a phrase that’s over-used and cliched to death, but I can’t think of something that applies more to the Hawks right now.

This time last year saw Mike Woodson shave the rotation down to 7 or 8 men, a move that he admitted (in an interview/article by Sekou K. Smith) was not favored by his assistants. Not so this year. The fact is, Coach Woodson has actually lengthened his rotation to 9, sometimes 10 men since Marvin Williams went down with a back injury. I don’t know about you, but I figure the devil has to be checking his thermostat after that one. Did anybody see this coming? I mean, we ARE used to Woody saying that he wants to extend his rotation, that he needs to find a way to do it (while not actually doing it).  Well, apparently he found a way to do it. Let’s examine the guys who are benefitting the most right now.

Woody has developed a sudden penchant for putting Mario West into the game either late in the first quarter, or early in …

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Derailed or Untracked?

How to survive injuries to key players is a lesson the Hawks have been forced to learn twice already this season. Three times, if you count Bibby’s absence due to sickness. Now it appears that the latest victim of the injury bug could be Marvin Williams.

Top AJC Beat Writer Sekou K. Smith reports that Marvin’s back injury is serious enough to where he will be seeking further medical opinion on it. Needless to say, there is somewhat dire speculation as to how long Marvin will be out. And if you think about it, how effective will he be when he can come back? Back injuries are not usually a 24-hour bug, after all. And talk about bad timing, as the three amigos had finally come back together for a possible encore performance during the all-important season-ending stretch run. Yet here they stand, maybe having to finish the season without the guy who is possibly their most versatile and consistent offensive frontcourt threat. Then again, perhaps this is also a portent of things to …

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Time For An Intervention?

Did Atlanta REALLY just lose to the Bobcats (the BOBcats!!!) after benching an increasingly petulant Josh Smith, mere minutes after he posted a 13 point, 4 board, 2 block first half???????

OK, so almost everyone who’s been paying attention wasn’t actually surprised, even though it still looks ridiculous either writing or reading that line.  If you didn’t already know it, let me point out that Miami overtaking the Hawks for the 4th seed, and home-court advantage over the Hawks in the first round, has been a pretty likely outcome since Riley and the Heat upgraded their roster with O’Neal and Moon before the deadline, while the Hawks chose to stand “Pat” on a roster that Woody seems to view as 8-deep. The only hiccup was Miami’s stinky performance in Atlanta a week ago, which highlighted the importance of home-court advantage. But unless Wade goes down before the end of the year, these guys are going to pass the Hawks, and then dispose of us in the first round.

It’s …

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THREE Amigos, not TWO!

Did you ever see the movie “The Three Amigos?” Do you like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short?

Personally, I thought Steve Martin was funnier opposite Queen Latifah in “Brining Down the House”, with a little Eugene Levy sprinkled in. I’ll never forget a corn-row hairstyled Eugene Levy (he had ‘em at the end, anyway) telling Queen Latifah, “You got me straight trippin’ Boo..” Had me rollin’ like a tumbleweed in a an old Western. But I’m getting sidetracked. Back to The Three Amigos, which I don’t remember much about, other than their signature move was something eerily like a more stiff version of the Macarena (and before that song’s time, too). But that’s not the point. Yes, I’m getting to a point, believe it or not. The point is, there were Three Amigos, not two. Three gave it balance. Three made it more effective and more laughable. It made the movie a better blend of three different comic spices. Each different, but each compatible with the other.

So it is, or …

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Stoppable Forces and Moveable Objects

Defeating the Miami Heat was considered a big test. Could the Hawks shake off a rough road trip out west and defend their homecourt against a playoff contender, and possible playoff opponent? The Hawks answered with a somewhat quiet but firm “yes.”

This Sunday night however, a bigger test awaits. Lebron James and the Cavaliers have been running roughshod over most of the league, with Lebron scoring at absolute will. And yet, his supporting cast cannot be ignored. Mo Williams is an explosive point guard who has no issues creating for himself when he needs to (as 17ppg will attest to). West, Gibson, and Szczerbiak will all shoot the lights out if you leave them even partially open. West is shooting nearly 42% from 3-point range and is perhaps finally getting back to full health (we’ll see). Meanwhile things don’t get any easier down low as big Z is still a load in the lane, where he is joined by  rookie J.J. Hickson, FlopZilla, and the former Popcorn Bandit of Atlanta. …

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