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 to help keep their heads above water as much as possible? The guy who averaged 11 points and 3.5 apg for them? Yeah, he dons a Hawks uniform these days and wears the mantle of super sixth man. Imagine that. Anybody see this coming? I sure didn’t. Things have gone from a sense of Deja Vu to the outright ironic. And who could be happier about it than the Hawks themselves, and their fans.

But that was last season, when the Hawks were on the edge of the coin. Two sides to every coin, and a different coin for each situation. Last season, the Hawks danced the edge of the playoffs coin. Heads or tails. Either you’re in, or you’re not. Nothing like dancing the edge almost until the very end. But things are different now. The Hawks aren’t even on that coin anymore. And nothing has come by default, either. No, few things are better than accomplishing something by your own two hands, standing on your own two feet. Tonight, the Hawks can cement that accomplishment with a road win against Indiana. They have already accomplished other things. A winning season. An easy entry into the playoffs. But tonight, they can lock up the 4th seed.

No matter which way you slice it, that is a heck of an achievement from a team that struggled to make the playoffs last season. Fourth place? That’s a total of four whole slots above 8th, which is a slot normally reserved for the title “best of the worst.” Fourth place. You really have to let that sink in, regardless of how many wins separate the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th places. That’s also a 9 game improvement in the win column if the Hawks win tonight. Wow. How different the other side of the coin is, huh? After this, you’re talking homecourt advantage, a term or phrase not mentioned in these parts in some time.

The Hawks also have to feel that sense of Deja Vu sliding away. Indiana was a team last season that seemed to be going in the same direction. Not so at this point. When they meet on the hardwood tonight, the Hawks are dancing the edge of homecourt advantage. The Pacers? The coin they dance on is the draft lottery. And that can be a thin edge, when there are 5 teams with worse records than you (although the pack is pretty close, with the exception of Washington).  It’s like two people meeting on an elevator. Going up? Going down.

Anyway, more good news for the Hawks is the return of Marvin Williams. How much he plays tonight will be interesting. How strong and healthy is his body really? Even moreso, how strong is he mentally? One of the hardest parts of coming back from an injury is being able to trust your body, and knowing what it can or cannot do. It’s a tricky thing, and you always fear the worst: re-injury. Hopefully all goes well, and Marvin is able to work himself back into the groove at a reasonable rate, while contributing to the team. I’m certain he’s anxious to get back out there, even more than we are to see him. A win tonight may open up a few more minutes for bench players, and allow the starters to get a little rest, without them getting too rusty.

It’s time to grab fourth place by the horns. The earning time is just about over. The owning time has just begun.

79 comments Add your comment

doc

April 10th, 2009
5:34 pm

“Tonight, the Hawks can cement that accomplishment with a road win against Indiana.”

ray my ticket says it is at home, heading to the phillips tonight. hope it is right.

who would have thought washington where they were last year would be on the edge of a precipice. enjoy it while it lasts. hope we beat up on the visitors tonight, send them packing early so they bring out the players they want to showcase instead of pretend to win a game.

playoff tix arrived.

GET READY TO RUMBLE ATLANTA!

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
7:54 pm

Thanks for the correction, Doc.

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
7:55 pm

Ouch. Two early fouls on Josh Smith.

Bibby is off already…

And here comes Marvin!

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
9:07 pm

No sarcasm from me Ray, just an appreciation for what the team has accomplished this season. Here’s hoping we get it done tonight, because surely, someone will claim that we “backed” into the 4th seed despite having a vice-grip on the slot for the past 3-4 months. GO HAWKS!

Sautee

April 10th, 2009
9:20 pm

I wonder how in the world Josh could make that beautiful touch pass to Horford with NO BASKETBALL I.Q.?

Mush have gotten lucky. Again.

Funny how he gets lucky like that 2.5 times per game.

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:21 pm

Al owns the Pacers AND the boards. Surprised anybody can get a rebound with him around.

Nice efforts by Joe, Flip and Josh, too.

Good to see Bibby hit a few shots.

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
9:25 pm

I’m in a Chattanooga hotel with nothing more than the ESPN box score. Once again, Hawks are scring a ton of points. I’m not convinced that they can do damage in the playoffs with this brand of ball… defense seems to be a better way to defeat the top teams.

Can anyone tell me how Marvin looks? Does he look gimpy, healthy, tired, fresh? A few adjectives and adverbs, please.

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:28 pm

Astro Joe,

They can claim it if they want to, but these guys have earned it, all saltiness aside. EARNED IT. That’s what’s different from last year. In fact, I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but I feel like these guys are better than they show at times.

I think we are seeing some late season developments from our two young post players. They seemed to be on a mission in that 6-0 run to begin the season, but things got derailed from there. Now we are seeing something even better than before. The only issue is that between injuries, internal issues (and I’m not talking just player/coach issues, bigger ones than that), and the usual outside influences, it’s been a hard road to ge to where they are now.

Our younger guys have been carrying us when our older guys haven’t been able to for different reasons. Not that I’m ready to throw guys like Joe under the bus. Far from that. There have just been different reasons, and the guys have had a hard time getting it all together at once, with all cylinders running.

Now if we could just play some decent defense….

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
9:31 pm

I wonder if anyone will choose to discuss Bibby’s performance relative to the opposing PG tonight. Again, based strictly on box scores, it looks like Jack is struggling with his shot and turnovers. So much for using tonight’s game as an audition for Sund. Yikes!

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:48 pm

Yeah….Josh the dummy. Give me a dummy like that any day…

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:53 pm

Astro Joe,

One game does not an audition make. If he’s judging that over one, or even a few particular games, then I’m not at all comfortable with him making decisions. Not that my comfort level matters to anyone who matters or is making decisions.

Ummmm….one thing though, Joe. Jack hasn’t been the pg much. It’s been Ford, who’s been coming off the bench (and playing major minutes) tonight….And Bibby has been trying to guard Ford. There’s your comparison, if you wish to make it.

Couldn’t blame Jack for struggling with his shot when he’s facing either JJ or Flip….No favorable matchups there…

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
9:53 pm

What was up with the foul on Granger while from behind the 4-point line?

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:54 pm

Are you trying to come up with answers for an argument that doesn’t yet exist and may not even come up? Must be boring in that hotel ;)

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
9:56 pm

I think Marvin is understandably a bit gimpy…

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
10:01 pm

Boring beyond belief. Just look for some commentary…. I’d even take ‘Nique’s tonight.

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
10:02 pm

Miami lost, so the 4th seed belongs to the Hawks! HOORAY!

niremetal

April 10th, 2009
10:06 pm

Parachuting in to say this – 4 years ago people said JJ was crazy for leaving Nash, Marion, and Amare. Now, JJ has led the Hawks to home court advantage and Nash, Amare, and Marion will all be watching the playoffs from home.

A great, great day to be a Hawks fan.

Astro Joe

April 10th, 2009
10:06 pm

CONFETTI….CONFETTI…. NOISE MAKERS….. NOISE MAKERS… MORE CONFETTI….HIP-HOP HOORAY…..BRING ON THE ‘92 DREAM TEAM. Sorry, I got a little carried away.

Congrats to the Hawks and Coach Woody!!!!

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
10:25 pm

WoW! What a finish! Clinched 4th, baby!

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
10:26 pm

“Boring beyond belief. Just look for some commentary…. I’d even take ‘Nique’s tonight.”

Astro Joe,

I’ll buy you a bottle of your favorite spirits before you sink that low. Don’t do it, Joe, don’t do it! ;)

Big Ray

April 10th, 2009
10:43 pm

A Niremetal sighting!

doc

April 10th, 2009
10:45 pm

good ball game tonight, murphy was slotted at the 2 guard, these pacers dont look like they used to. they have a lot of length and quickness. maybe forced woody to use solo who did admirably well. granger killed us tonight and jj had four fouls on him before granger was handed off to josh already having scored 28 points. close well fought offensive game with up tempo throughout. big game for josh and al tonight. got to keep hammering it inside. no iso joe tonight, finally.

Sautee

April 11th, 2009
11:04 am

Congratulations to the Hawks for clinching 4th.

ant banks

April 11th, 2009
12:37 pm

HB Ando, Big Ray, Sautee and whoever else…Can we get thru the 1st round in 5 games or less? We need to be rested up for Clev.

Which team, Chicago or Detroit do you think would push Cleveland 7 games? That will be the team that I route for for the 8th seed. right now chicago and detroit are tied for the 7th seed.

if the hawks can finish in 5 games and clev gets pushed 7 games, we may have a chance!!!

ant banks

April 11th, 2009
1:24 pm

HB Ando, Big Ray, Sautee and whoever else…Can we get thru the 1st round in 5 games or less? We need to be rested up for Clev.

Which team, Chicago or Detroit do you think would push Cleveland 7 games? That will be the team that I route for for the 8th seed. right now chicago and detroit are tied for the 7th seed.

if the hawks can finish in 5 games and clev gets pushed 7 games, we may have a chance!!!

Sautee

April 11th, 2009
2:45 pm

ant, I don’t think we can win either in 5 games. We are still a poor road team, which is why homecourt was SUCH a big deal. Not that we COULDN’T win a road game, but we’d need the other team’s help. So, whichever team is more mistake prone, would be a good choice. Philly has a vet point guard in Miller, so you’d think that Chalmers would be more likely to make mistakes in a playoff game. But he came up SO big in the clutch in the NC game last year, that he may not feel the pressure that many rooks would.

And I don’t see ANY way that either DET. or CHI. could win a game in Cleveland.

I’ve been wrong before, but only the Lakers have won in CLE. this year.

I’d say it’s much more likely that the Cavs win in 5 (if not 4) and we go 6 or 7.

melvin

April 11th, 2009
6:30 pm

The only regret is that some of the guys that shed blood, sweat and tears with us along the way aren’t around to enjoy this part of it. Josh Childress is in Greece. And [former Hawks general manager Billy Knight] isn’t around to see what his team has become. And I don’t care how you slice it, this is his team. He put these pieces together and here we are.” – Josh Smith

Nice comments for a guy that many bloggers claim to be a knucklehead. Yeah right…

Hawks 4th seed playoff team = Billy Knight Master Plan….

jj

April 11th, 2009
7:58 pm

We can’t give up 60 poiints in a half and win many games like we did tonite.Good to see Marvin back,but what’s the deal with ZP’s back?We don’t need to lose him.Better “D” and more sharing out of JJ and we will be fine.No dissing Woody tonite,and CONGRATS to the HAWKS…..

jj

April 11th, 2009
7:58 pm

Enter your comments here

niremetal

April 12th, 2009
12:13 am

So here’s my Thought of the Night:

With Chicago’s win and Detroit’s loss, Chicago takes a 1-game lead over Detroit for the 7th seed. Chicago is also leading their head-to-head series 2-1 this season. Chicago also owns the edge in the next tiebreaker – Det and Chi are in the same division and Chicago (8-7) has a better record than Detroit (7-8) against division rivals.

However, they play again Monday in Detroit. If Detroit wins that, they will even up the season series and divisional records of the two teams. And for the next tiebreaker after that – conference records – Detroit (26-24) has an insurmountable lead over Chicago (23-27).

So if Detroit wins out (or Chicago loses out) during the next 4 days, Detroit will get the 7 seed. Otherwise, Chicago will. And if you’re the Hawks, I think you HAVE to pull for Detroit to stay in the 8th seed, because they stand a much better chance than the Bulls to take the Cavs to 6 or 7. Yeah, I know that Chicago has been rolling and Detroit struggling lately. But Detroit is a battle-tested team, and you know that ‘Sheed, Rip, and Tayshaun are at their best in the playoffs. I don’t think they have another run to the conference finals left in them, but I do think they are better than their record.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand g’nite.

richbrave

April 12th, 2009
12:19 am

And my prognostication goes a-glimmering as the soaring HAWKS blow past my 45 win prediction in preseason. Congrats.

richbrave

April 12th, 2009
12:20 am

Oh, and the WIZARDS have finally equaled the franchise record of futility by winning #19 last night.

Big Ray

April 12th, 2009
11:13 am

I am shutting down this Hawks Hack, as no one reads it.

KevinA

April 12th, 2009
6:45 pm

Ray, I enjoy your posts and commentary.

ant banks

April 12th, 2009
6:54 pm

niremetal

April 12th, 2009
7:45 pm

Methinks that someone – I can’t POSSIBLY imagine who – is deciding to post under Ray’s name. Sad.

ant banks

April 12th, 2009
8:11 pm

Enter your comments here

Sautee

April 12th, 2009
8:24 pm

Niremetal,

So far this year, only the Lakers have won in Cleveland. What makes you think that either Det. OR Chi. could win there?

Big Ray

April 12th, 2009
9:16 pm

KevinA,

I appreciate it, thanks. I enjoy your commentary as well.

Niremetal,

Correct. It wasn’t me. And besides, I CAN’T shut down this site. AJC has to do that, and I don’t think they want to, particularly not with people actually participating.

Which by the way, that reminds me. Thanks to all of you for coming here and posting. Your commentary is great, and the back-n-forth is a lot of fun!

Big Ray

April 12th, 2009
9:19 pm

Sautee,

Hmmmm. Good point.

JJ,

The idea of losing Zaza, especially for the playoffs, really scares me. Woody is famous for tightening rotations as it is, but guess what? The only big men we would have left to bring off the bench would be Solo, RandMo, and Hunter. Of the three, Solo has played the most minutes BY FAR, and he’s been picking splinters out of his arse for the most part in the second half of the season.

What’s that say about the other guys? Yikes….

niremetal

April 12th, 2009
9:21 pm

Sautee,

Uhhhhh…re-read my post, my friend. I never said either team could win in Cleveland. I said that Detroit might be able to take Cleveland to 6 or 7 – which, of course, they could do without ever winning a game on the road (as we proved against the Celtics a year ago).

HB Ando

April 12th, 2009
11:56 pm

Wade and Beasley……sound familiar?

Nire, I think you’re talking about the ghost of Pistons’ past. These Pistons would be lucky to win a game off the Cavs. And I’ve got some thoughts about fixating on the Cavs, coming up before the first round tips off.

Major respect for the Hawks and the season they’ve had to date. As we’ve seen with the Braves, over the years, a great regular season is only as memorable as the playoff performance that follows.

Both the Hacks’ site, as well as Sekou’s Beat Blog, are prone to the finest level of micro-analysis. But as the NBA enters the playoffs, it’s likely that macro-analysis will prevail.

KevinA

April 13th, 2009
10:12 am

Did I miss something? ZaZa has a back problem? I understood it to be a light tweak. We need to have ZaZa ready for the playoffs. Great chance for Sole to get ZaZa’s minutes the next game.

I know it won’t happen but I’d like to see JJ come off the bench against Miami. I would love to see Mario start again and put him in on Wade. Then put Flip/Evans on Wade through the first half. Play JJ when Wade is on the bench. Then have JJ match Wades minutes the rest of the game and guard him. JJ could use the rest and the 2nd half match up would be fun.

Do you think JJ and Bibby should play about 25 min in the last two games even if means we lose? Or is momentum more important than rest. It would be great to see the bench get more involved in the last two games. I don’t think Marvin will play more than 20 min as we need to ease him back in.

It’s been great to see Al and Josh getting the ball and playing at a high energy level. Our playoff success on the road will depend on these two young studs. When these two guys are excited and pumped the entire team plays better.

Even with a healthy Marvin, (when that happens) I hope Mario continues to get at least 5-7 minutes. Same with Solo. We are slowly but surely rounding into a more balanced team.

Woody’s coaching style will probably dictate the opposite player substitution but what the heck, just ideas.

dap01

April 13th, 2009
6:07 pm

How much will Speedy be used? What is ZaZa’s status? Is AC playing at all?

richbrave

April 13th, 2009
6:31 pm

An HB sighting. My man, how you doin? Who was it that forecast 48 wins last SEPTEMBER? I know someone settled on that number.

richbrave

April 13th, 2009
6:43 pm

And what do you guys think of FLIP SAUNDERS to D.C. as ringmaster for the ABE and GILBERT circus? I say he improves the offense, but the only improvement defensively is that HAYWOOD’s back. Reminds me of an old 1965 song, “My HAYWOOD’s back and you’re gonna’ be in trouble, hey-nah-ne-nah my HAYWOOD’s back.”

Big Ray

April 13th, 2009
10:29 pm

RichBrave,

Your boy Critter seems to be coming along nicely, now that he’s actually on a team that will give him some burn.

Flip Saunders would be a good coach. Don’t know just how far he can take them, but it will likely be further than they’ve been.

I have no idea what y’all are going to do with Gilbo. Time for him to get out of town, but it won’t happen on that ridiculous contract. He needs to do a couple of things: come back with some SERIOUS fire/chip on his shoulder, and learn how to reintegrate himself to this team and make it better.

HB Ando

April 13th, 2009
11:34 pm

RB, waz up brother? I give props to anyone who predicted 48, or anywhere in that neighborhood. I know it wasn’t me, as I said 40 wins and now find myself with the predictive abilities of Mark Bradley. Can’t say that the Wiz could go wrong with Flip, but your local squad also needs some roster tweaks, as their whole is clearly less than the sum of their parts. If I was going to get rid of one of the “big 3″, and assuming that moving Gil’s ridiculous deal is largely unrealistic, I’m moving Jamison. Butler is a guy I want to keep on my team, any team. But hey, maybe the Wiz pull the first pick, and draft Griffin, who would give them a true interior presence, and make Jamison that much more replaceable.

richbrave

April 13th, 2009
11:39 pm

You know RAY, I’m wondering why he’s only come back for the one game. I think that knee’s giving him some trouble. He’s beginning to look more like LaVAR ARRINGTON every day. ABE POLLIN has “adopted” GILBERT and put him in charge of the circus.

Will FLIP stand for one player being treated as he pleases, and everybody else having to play ball according to his rules? Not a good situation at all. You probably remember my carping about those contracts last JUNE. I am convinced they created a cancer on the WIZARDS that will not be cured until AGENT ZERO is history in D.C. And the ultimate solution to my mind is new ownership with some accountability behind it.

And yes, JAVARIS is getting serious burn and improving. Got the start tonight, and continues looking good. Had one drive where he put the ball on the floor at the top of the key and blew by his defender. The old two-step NBA style drive and flipped up a shot at the rim and hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Not as high flying as that move I saw in the ABA ALL-STAR game years ago by JULIUS ERVING, but startling none the less. GREAT move.

Bloggers on the WIZARDS INSIDER now want someone like RUBIO from the draft to back-up ARENAS. A LOT of folks think GA’s best days are behind him. I keep reminding them that ERNIE GRUNFELD already has GIL’s replacement in house, J-CRIT.

The WIZARDS will never get the first pick because of their karma, but THABEET will be there, and in my mind they should take him. What concerns my is with the showing he made in the NCAA’s, HASHEEM might decide to stay at CONNECTICUT for his senior year to improve his status in the draft. He’s definitely not ready like BLAKE GRIFFIN, but he should be snagged if available by the WIZARDS.

OL’ ABE is talking bold about paying big cap penalties if necessary, but with the attendance being what it is without GILBERT, its all bravado and like the WIZARDS team as currently constituted, just for show. Fannies in the seats is what this team is built to do. Nothing else. In my humble opinion of course.

richbrave

April 13th, 2009
11:55 pm

HB:

You sir are a funny man – MARK BRADLEY indeed. Had to LOL. BLAKE would be ideal, but you know that never happens to the WIZARDS. I surely agree on BUTLER, but what other piece can be moved? No one wants JAMISON or ARENAS with their respective contracts or baggage. Besides, having FLIP just solidifies the owner’s intent on building a great offensive team that plays limited individual and help defense. There’s no apparant team defensive concept that I can perceive. The worst defense against three’s in the entire league this year. Hell, you build defense from the base-line out, and they haven’t done that yet. I’m glad to see our HAWKS playing some serious cheese this year though. Beat my 45 prognostication. GO HAWKS.