Archive for April, 2009

Pains and Gains

If you’ve every played any high school sport, most notably football, there was one phrase you always hated to hear the most. “No pain, No gain!”

If I could have had a dollar for every time I heard that in practice, I’d….well, I’d still be no richer than I am now,  because I didn’t know how to save a single stinking penny back then. But you get my drift, right?

If anybody understands the correlation between pain and gain, it’s the Hawks. They sure got a good dose  of this age old adage in game 4, where Zaza led the way in both the pain AND gain departments. But what the Hawks have to be wondering right now is exactly WHAT gains will they get from all the pain they’re experiencing right now? And believe me, there is a lot of pain to spread around. Horford’s ankle. Marvin’s back. Acie’s back (is it still hurting some?). Zaza’s shiner. Woody’s ulcer. Josh’s brain. Okay, maybe the last two are fictional (and no doubt the first could be related to the second), but you have to …

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How to win Game 5

I’ve never been a big fan of thuggery, on the court.  I think the way the game evolved, during the heyday of the Bad Boys, from Detroit, was not the way the game was intended to be played.  That being said, everybody knows that once you’re in the playoffs, there should be no easy layups.

So, as I watched D. Wade limp his way through Game 4, with back spasms, which clearly limited his outside shooting accuracy, I couldn’t help but think that, simply put, if he’s on, the Hawks likely lose that game.  Which begs the unsightly question, “should the Hawks go “all Detroit” on Wade” in Game 5, everytime he attacks the basket?   You know he’s going to recklessly attack the hoop.  You know he hits the floor 10 times a game.  So does Zaza, or Horford, put a little extra oomph into every foul they give?  I’m not saying be dirty or cheap (which actually would be “going Bad Boy” on him), but how valuable would it be if Wade just wasn’t able to suck it up and play at his usual, …

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Close To The Wall

That’s exactly what the Hawks are right now.

Their collective backs aren’t against the wall just yet, but they are certainly close enough to count the number of bricks or cinder blocks. It’s not panic time, but it is definitely “serious” time. The fight is on, and the Miami Heat are looking to deal the kind of blow that preceeds a knockout punch.

The Hawks have to show that they can go the distance, that they can’t be pushed up against the wall. And to do that, they have to be solid on both ends of the floor. The prevailing opinion is that the Hawks always begin winning with defense. There is a great deal of merit to this view point, and the simple fact is that the defense has been lacking in the last two games. Rotations are slow, efforts are subpart, assignments have been botched, and much of it leads back to miscommunication. Guys need to talk to each other, every single time they get back on defense. Every time the Heat run an offensive play, the Hawks have to figure out …

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Fighting Fire With Fire

So here we are, all evened up at 1-1. Not precisely where the Hawks wanted to be, going into Miami, but that’s the way it stands now.

Miami, and largely the rest of Florida, is known more for a football passion than basketball, the lone exception being the success of Billy Donovan’s program. But rest assured. The crowds in Miami’s arena will not be thin, the will not be quiet, and they will not be visitor-friendly. And it should not be a shock, with the Hawks having faced rowdy crowds in Boston, in last year’s playoffs. Still, the task ahead will be no cake walk. You never want to face a superstar on his own turf, for one thing. For another, even the lowliest of role players can shine in a home game. And all of them will feed off of the energy of a rowdy home crowd.

Winning on the road is not easy. Winning on the road in the playoffs is less so. Yet the Miami Heat have already come to Phillips and proven that they can do it. Now the Hawks must do the same. That’s right: MUST. …

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Steel Gauntlet Smackdown!

Wow.

If you predicted a first game blowout of the Heat, by the Hawks…then kudos to you. No doubt every Hawks fan was anxiously, eagerly looking for a win, but a win like that? You certainly couldn’t ask for any better. The Hawks took note of other teams in the playoffs losing game 1 (and therefore homecourt advantage) and responded accordingly. Point blank: they smacked the Heat right in the face with a steel gauntlet and drew blood. There’s really no other way to say it.

And they did it in a way that represents the teachings (and constant implorings) of head coach Mike Woodson. That’s right, defense and rebounding. Dwyane Wade never became the Mr. Flash of old in this game, even though he got to the basket with relative ease a few times. He didn’t get the calls, and other than the few aforementioned forays into the paint, he got nothing going. He looked anything but a superstar, and his teammates were unable to help. Sure, Michael Beasley had a double double, but in the …

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A Tough Call

Let’s start this post with the rightful, and righteous, congrats to our home team Atlanta Hawks.  Let’s highlight just how strong a 47-35 record is.  Let’s note that there was nothing flukish about that record, as the Hawks season-long point differential was as clearly fourth in the Eastern Conference as their fourth-seed finish.

And let’s not bother with the seemingly endless discussion of whether Billy Knight should be credited with this years’ success, or be held largely responsible for the fact that, with some fairly obvious alternative personnel moves, this kind of season has arrived several years later than it should have.  Because Billy Knight is gone, and this season is about the folks who are here, now.  This season is about the current players, coaches and front office, because at the end of the day you dance with the one that ‘brung ya’.

So now that we’ve dispensed with the well-earned platitudes, we need look no farther than the recent history of our Atlanta …

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Deja Vu… and The Edge of the Coin

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, just looking at the blog title.

Deja Vu? The edge of the coin? What is he talking about? Can we not decide on a blog title?

Well, to be honest, I couldn’t. So I decided to have my small piece of cake and eat it, too. You know, it seems like the calories tend to double that way, but…ehhh, enough rambling. Well, enough rambling in that direction, anyway.

With the Hawks facing Indiana tonight, I can’t help but get a slight sense of Deja Vu. After all, it was Indiana last season that they were in a battle with for the 8th and final spot in the playoffs. Indiana was in position to have it, but struggled through the final games of the season (key players were out with injury), and could not deliver. The Hawks, who struggled roughly just as much, managed to eke out just enough wins to more or less win the battle by default.

Want another slight touch of Deja Vu? Remember the fearless 6′3″ combo guard that Indy signed last year for the last 23 games …

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Root, root, root, for the Sixers!

Barring some absurd collapse by the Hawks, over the remaining 7 games, we’re a lock for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.  So it’s clearly time to consider what the first round of said playoffs may realistically look like.

Tonight the Philadelphia 76ers assumed a half-game lead for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, slipping past the Miami Heat, who have held that slot for quite some time.  Perusing the ongoing banter, on Big Ray’s most recent post, it seems quite a few folks would prefer to face the Heat, rather than the Sixers, in the first round.

I’m afraid I have to disagree.  I’ll be rooting for the Sixers to hold onto the 5th seed and emerge as our first-round opponent, regardless of how we’ve faired against them this season.  I know, I know, we’re 2-1 against the Heat this year, while going 1-2 against Philly.

But let me give you four reasons why I don’t want to see the Heat in the first-round (in ascending order of importance):

1) Michael Beasley: …

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