Hawks Party Like a Ferrari!

Wow, who are these guys?!

As all of you must know, the Hawks opened the regular season with a 120-109 home court victory over what looked to be, before tip-off, an inferior Indiana Pacers squad.  After opening a lot of eyes in the preseason, by crossing the century mark 5 times, the Hawks cranked it up like the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets.  Was that Mike Woodson prowling the sidelines, or Mike Westhead.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Paul Westhead-coached Nuggets of that season, they averaged just under 120 point per game.  Unfortunately, they gave up 130 and won only 20 games.

Now, clearly, coming off of last season, where the Hawks nailed down the fourth seed in the East, and had their best season in over a decade, there are no concerns about the Hawks “running and gunning” their way back to the basement of the conference.  But the lack of defense, especially coming from a Woodson-coached team (with his track record as a “defensive” coach not only well established, but often times a source of criticism from folks who have believed that the recent Hawks’ teams were built to “run” and were being held back by Woodson’s half-court oriented approach to offense), was just a bit disconcerting.

Now the bottom line is:

1) We Won!

and,

2) It was Fun (to watch the Hawks put up 120)!

So, you might say, “Ando, enjoy the W and don’t over-analyze just one, single game, especially the first of the season!”

Well, that’s what we do here, I say.  We tee up just such a topic so you, the Hawks’ fan, can step up and speak your mind!

This is where we get into expectations for this season, which are the highest they’ve been since Dominique was having epic showdowns with the Celtics and the great Larry Bird.

As several of you have pointed out, the Hawks are looking like a Western Conference team, given their performance last night and during the preseason.  But the Eastern Conference is known for it’s rugged, defensively-focused style.  And the three teams that finished ahead of the Hawks last season are still built that way, with the Celtics, who’ve added ‘Sheed, the Cavs, who’ve added Shaq, and the Magic, who thrashed the Hawks in the final preseason game, and who have a guy you may have heard of in the middle, Dwight Howard!

The Hawks have their most talented roster in close to 15 years.  And the added depth of the front court is certain to be of value as we start the season.  But we now have a log-jam of scoring guards in the back court, who look like they will be battling each other for both shots and minutes.  And how will the front court players get enough touches with JJ, Bibby, Crawford and the Talented Mr. Teague all looking to get their groove on?

If someone told you before last nights’ game, that the Hawks would reach reach half-time with only 4 turnovers committed, and 14 forced, a +9 in steals, 17 dimes on 26 made buckets, while shooting at a 56.5% clip from the field, would any of you (raise your hands, or just feel free to post your confirmation) believe that the Hawks would be leading by only 1 (one!) point??

The track record for success, in the Eastern Conference, is clearly defined:

Defense wins.

And while I love a good, old-fashioned, Western Conference-style shootout, I’ve got to wonder how last nights’ outcome projects over an 82-game season in the nasty, physical East.

This is going to be a tremendously fun team to watch, based on early observations.  But I think holding on to the fourth-seed is going to be even tougher than cracking the top-three (which just doesn’t seem feasible, given the additions the Celtics, Cavs and Magic made in the off-season).

Rick Sund has handed Mike Woodson the keys to a very, very fast car.  But, without the contract extension Woody was/is seeking, he’s essentially given him a one-year lease on the ride.  Will Woody focus on showing everyone, Sund most importantly, that he can hang with Nascar’s best?  Or will refrain from the tempting urge to gun it every night, and steadfastly seek to park this Ferrari squarely in the slot reserved for the home-court advantage that comes with repeating as the fourth-seed in the East.

Winning takes care of everything, as we all saw last season.  But it will take defense to successfully navigate this years’ challenge, with much of the East looking to have improved (as have the Hawks) during the summer.

What say you guys?

Does Woody put the pedal to the metal and dare the rest of the league to catch the Hawks (an approach that has fallen short in Phoenix, Dallas and anywhere Nellie has coached)?

Or does he figure out how to balance this offense with a little (OK, a lot) of his historically defensive-minded approach?

Going to be fun ride, but if going too fast makes you nervous, then this may be a scary season for the weak of heart……….

80 comments Add your comment

MyView

October 29th, 2009
10:46 pm

This is true, the statistics show that the Hawks played a great, well rounded game last night, but seeing the Pacers make shot after shot made me nervous. I’m very anxious to see if the Hawks can score 100+ppg this season and hold opponents to under 95ppg. I think we have that type of talent….

doc

October 29th, 2009
11:43 pm

a win is a win. like the fact they put the clamps on late with defense. it is the same formula they used last year at home, stay close then pull out all stops to make stops i the fourth quarter. doubt this is what we can expect especially horford going off like he did. many other teams will keep him too occupied on defense to allow him to make a run on offense. chicago last year was a similar team when he threw up significant numbers last year. really like the stats josh has been putting up this year except nire continues to harp on the free throw misses. he was very efficient last night and cant say that about our all star still taking as about as many shots as points made. yeah, yeah, yeah …. blah, blah, blah.

get a win friday and come through the gauntlet out west early say playing .500 ball away from home and we can dream a bit.

boston surprises me with the way they threw down the cavs on their turf. sheldon has got to say he is finally getting some luck. he is in boston and big baby breaks his hand opening the door back up.

pretty soon we might be saying something about woody and his exes from the dog pound. might even be able to make a country jingle out of it. doesnt matter if he drives this car right. if he doesnt we get a new coaching squad.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
12:00 am

Good to see you back, Ando. I’ll respond more fully tomorrow :)

Ariose

October 30th, 2009
12:14 am

FOURTH!!! Ditto what nire said lol….

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
12:21 am

Well said, Ando . This definitely won’t be for the faint of heart. Upcoming game against Washington will be quite interesting, moreso than the one against Indiana.

KevinA

October 30th, 2009
5:53 am

This was a game that we would have lost two years ago. Maybe last year. However I would call this second tier resilient. Not a belief in beating the best 8 teams but a new belief that we cannot lose to the bottom 20.

Woody has one new coaching move – give Al the ball. Helps against the ISO Joe and has forced better ball movement. All in all it may win him a new contract. If we can find three minutes apiece for Crawford and JT (Teague) at Bibby’s expense we are on our way to 50-54 wins and a tougher show against the 2nd round opponent.

Was the reports about Crawford’s great play in preseason a misconception and the 9 assist night a fluke? Makes you wonder while JJ was still playing with a 10 point lead with mere minutes to go. Not that the 9 million dollar player has hurt us much but Evans has been much more effective in a back up role. Ok Ok just one game. We will see. Looking to a better JT performance.

Woody is an old time coach. If you don’t do it on the floor you will find yourself with limited minutes.

vava74

October 30th, 2009
8:08 am

I see last Wednesday’s game as a very bad omen and I trully hope that I am wrong.

Basically I think that we played just like we did against Orlando. The result was different solely because we played at home and the Pacers are a much weaker team.

We played poor defense and completely lost the battle of the boards.

It’s unacceptable that our starting PF only got 3 rebounds.

tbhawksfan

October 30th, 2009
8:55 am

vava74: Picking on Smoove’s boards after the night he put together is weak. I will agree that on average, he should nearly triple that, but he had an all-star type game. Horf was there to clean up the boards. Yes, we lost the battle of the boards(35-40), but we were the better team and won the game convincingly.

the Hawks aren’t a traditionnally built team. We don’t have the BIG, talented PF and C combo. We’ve got Horf and Smoove though and they can compete and play a nice style of ball.

It’s Woodson’s job to make the team run and he has plenty of weapons and options.

Great game Smoove and Horford.

JM

October 30th, 2009
9:51 am

I agree tbhawksfan, great game for our bigs. As far as whether to “gun it,” the Hawks should and need to run. It doesn’t have to be Suns or Warriors style with no defense, but they need to play up tempo. Woody should tell his team to defend and break! Our half court offense sucked last year. Play to your strengths when you can and run as much as possible. Go Hawks!

O'Brien

October 30th, 2009
10:43 am

Good blog Ando,

The Hawks have to turn the defense up. Because when we play on the road, our offense does not show up consistently (especially against good teams). However, defense can be played anywhere. Mike Woodson was a defensive coach, he preaches it all the time, so lets hope the team makes him proud.

With the kind of depth that we have, I think Woody can play full court press sometimes too, which could force the other team to waste a few seconds before getting into their offense.

Sautee

October 30th, 2009
10:43 am

Ando,

Nice piece. Good to see you back in the saddle.

vava74

October 30th, 2009
11:58 am

tbhawksfan,

I think people are too enamored with points and dunks (yes, I acknowledge that he had 5 steals and 2 blks).

Troy Murphy, Smoove’s direct opponent’s line was the following:

T. Murphy F M37:23 FG6-9 3pt2-3 FT0-0 off1 teb10 ass7 to5 stl0 blk0 pf1 pts14

Most of Murphy’s points (if not all) came during the first half when Murphy matched Josh’s offensive output, had a 7-1 advantage on the boards and was operating at will outside and inside.

Fortunately Josh defended a lot better in the second half and he managed to keep Murphy under control, however, in spite of his strong offensive showing, Josh was also responsible for Murphy’s success during the first half.

Overall, I do not consider Josh has such a great game. He was more decisive in the second half defending than on the first scoring.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
12:39 pm

Totally agree Vava. Josh’s second half was much better than his first from the standpoint of helping the team win, because he shut down Murphy and was altering shots left and right. It annoys me to no end that people watched the game in the first half and/or looked at his box score afterwards and declared that he had a good game based almost entirely on his offense in the first half – ignoring the fact that he wasn’t bothering to guard Murphy in the first quarter, which cost as many points as Josh scored (and JJ and Bibby should receive some of the credit for his first half scoring, considering that 6 of Josh’s 7 FGs were assisted).

Josh was great offensively in the first half, but bad on defense (both on-ball and help), and terrible on the boards. In the second half, he was a machine defensively (both on-ball and help), adequate offensively, and bad on the boards. So his game was more uneven than most people seem to realize – and in any case his second half was better than his first in terms of helping the team win. My rating of the players’ games overall would go 1) Horford, 2) JJ/Josh tied (really, JJ’s D on Granger in the second half killed the Pacers, but no one seemed to notice – although I’d still give a slight edge to Josh because he was at his apogee on offense); 4) Joe Smith (I didn’t realize how good he still was – he held down the fort on both ends); 5) Bibby; 6) the rest of the second unit; and 7) Marvin (he really seemed flummoxed on Granger, which seemed to make him worse than useless on both ends in the first half).

tbhawksfan

October 30th, 2009
12:47 pm

I hear ya zaza74, Murphy had a nice game. The five TO’s were huge though. Smoove played the point forward to perfection.

I think you’re looking for traditional skills in an untraditional PF.

I don’t think you’ll see too many games under 5 boards from him though.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
1:00 pm

And Ando, great post. I have a distinct feeling that we’re going to see a slower pace for many of our games because as I’ve said – we seemed to play to the Pacers’ style on Wednesday night.

I have a feeling tonight will give us a better glimpse at our “natural” offensive pace tonight, because Flip Saunders is a counterpunching coach whose teams were famously manic on offense (not unlike the Hawks) – check out his teams’ pace factors from year to year when he was in Minny. He seemed to settle on a slow, traditional half-court offense in Detroit, but that seemed like more a reflection on the players he had than on his coaching “style,” especially considering that Detroit was playing just as slowly before he arrived and just as slowly after he left. Considering the relatively fast (but still variable) pace the Wizards played at during the preseason and in their opener, I’d say Flip is still Flip when it comes to offensive style. But his teams always won because Flip didn’t simply play his opponents’ style of ball and then let things play out – he makes adjustments based on what his players are capable of and what the other team is giving him. The other team might make the first move, but he immediately starts making adjustments thereafter to prevent the other team from dictating what happens.

To use a tennis analogy, the difference between Flip and Woody is that Flip is a true counterpuncher (someone who affirmatively adjusts to their opponents’ games, finds its weaknesses, and tries to exploit them) and Woody is just a pusher (someone who simply tries to keep the rally going without going on the attack). There’s a reason that counterpunchers routinely win titles while pushers never become truly elite. A pusher has to learn to make in-game adjustments, learn when to go on the attack, and thereby become a true counterpuncher to make the step from good to great.

Wink

October 30th, 2009
1:57 pm

Woody is definitely no Paul Westhead. The Hawks scored a lot of points due to 25 turnovers by the Pacers. Even with the turnovers we only led by 1 at the half. Without the turnovers we probably lose this game, even if that had been the case it would have been just one game. Hawks usually take on the identity of the team we are playing, instead of dictating tempo to their liking.

So to say we played like a Ferrari, is a bit pre mature, as Woody has not changed his spots.

So I acknowledge we did what we were suppose to do, take advantage of turnovers. Josh played under control, Horford showed off his improved mid range jumper; he made to many to be a fluke, I saw confidence. The front court made big contributions early & we rode Bibby & JJ late, while the front court focused on playing defense. The bench held up the middle portion of the game with good ball distribution on offense to keep game in control. This is a formula that could have some success closing out games, thus the score 120 – 109.

The defense we played against the Pacers has to get better, because as it is, it has zero chance of working against the big 3…maybe that’s when we should bring out the Ferrari!

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
3:40 pm

First, let me give tbhawksfan kudos for recognizing some things that apparently were missed in the game against Indiana.

Here’s one thing I find interesting: two of the Hawks most pivotal players had opposite halves. What I mean is, one excelled offensively in one half while the other did well defensively. That was in the first half. In the second half, the other did well offensively, while the first did well defensively.

Of course I’m talking about Josh and Joe.

Joe played good defense on his counterpart (who by the way, I feel I have to say is nowhere near the top offensive threat on the team), but his offense wasn’t stellar. 3-9 shooting, and for once, the lightning fast double team idea just isn’t going to cover it. Add in the turnovers (he had 2 or 3 of his 4 total turnovers in the first 2 quarters), and Joe didn’t really have a good first half, either.

With Josh, he was definitely sagging off of Murphy, who got the bulk of his points on outside shots and a couple of inside baskets on cuts. I did notice that on a few of Murphy’s buckets, Josh was fighting through a screen. Problem is, he wasn’t always fighting hard enough, and no help was coming.

What gets me is, it is very easy to say that Murhpy’s points negated Josh’s (though Josh outscored him by a bucket in the first half), yet almost nobody is mentioning his 6 assists. Last I checked, an assist accounts for somebody scoring 2 points, at least. And since Josh had but 1 turnover, that’s a minimum of 12 points (if I recall, he assisted on a couple of three pointers in the game) that you can also tie him into. How convenient that this got missed.

At the same time, I was disappointed about Josh not getting a bunch of rebounds. Three things I can attribute that to: 1) He didn’t commit to rebounding nearly enough, 2) Guarding Troy Murhpy means coming out to the perimeter quite a bit, drawing you further away from the basket, even if you’re not closing out on him like you should, and 3) The Pacers were shooting lights out because we weren’t defending them well enough, and they were kinda hot. When a team shoots over 63% in the first half alone, and ends the game well over 50%, how many rebounds are there to be had? So really, that last point doubles as both a reason and a condemnation on Josh, who did NOT play good defense in the first half.

Now let’s talk about the second half.

The Pacers got blitzed by Josh and Al (who, by the way accounted for 12 of the Hawks assists in the game, and just a single turnover), which allowed the Joe show to get started.

Joe actually shot a blistering 7-11 in the second half (see what happens when he’s guarded one-on-one, Woody?). He didn’t really start guarding Granger on the regular until the 4th quarter, because O’Brien had Granger on the bench for a good chunk of the early second half, so it’s not like Joe had to defend him for an entire half of basketball (thank goodness, could have gotten ugly). Either way it was perfect timing and damn good effort/effect by Joe. Granger was denied the ball, and denied his favorite spots, credit that to Joe for knowing how to play great man defense . That, and Joe didn’t turn the ball over but once in the second half that I can remember, and finished with 6 assists as well. Good game for him, but not a great first half (his defense aside).

And Josh? Shut down Murphy, though as I stated earlier, that requires a lot of staying well away from the basket, as Murhpy is only an opportunistic scorer down low and prefers to strike from the perimeter. Josh got a couple of boards, but the bulk of his committment went to locking Murphy down, getting in the passing lanes, and continuing good ball movement. Could he have done better? Yes, he could have, but I doubt he would have come anywhere near double digit boards with the Pacers shooting the way they were. In any case, Horford picked up the slack admirably.

If you ask me, both Josh and Joe DID have good games, even if both had subpar first halves (Josh’s defense, Joe’s shooting and ball-handling).

The bottom line is, Josh made very good decisions with the ball all game long (only a hater denies an 8-to-1 assist/turnover ratio), shot 7-10 from the field, and got 5 steals/2 blocks (another fact that barely got a mention).

Joe played good defense pretty much for the duration of the game (his concerted effort against Granger when Granger came back in the 4th quarter being the highlight), and took over the scoring in the second half, like any all-star should/would.

Both guys had good games. Both guys’ plusses well outweighed their minuses.

Even then, Horford outplayed everybody, if you ask me.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
3:58 pm

Wink ,

Agreed. We have to play better defensively. And you’re right, Bibby helped Joe out on the offensive end in the 4th quarter. In fact, I think he got most of his points then.

The Pacers committed a bundle of turnovers, but many of those were the Hawks players getting into the passing lanes of Jim O’Brien’s fast-paced offense. Josh and Joe led the way here, accounting for 9 freakin’ steals between them, Marvin and Bibby followed that up with a combined 5 steals. Our guys deserve some credit for that.

The reason we only led by one at the half is that nobody outside of Horford was getting rebounds (Marvin got a couple), and we let the Pacers shoot 63% in the first half. Blaming Josh for letting Murphy get 14 points may be the popular thing to do, but as I recall, somebody let Granger get 22 first half points . Oh look…it wasn’t Josh…oops.

Anyway, Washington is actually more dangerous, so we have to come out of the gate playing tougher “D”.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
5:11 pm

Ray,

(Disclaimer: This is another one of my anti-stat rants, not an anti-Josh rant, as you’ll see as you read through this)

The assists Josh made do, of course, matter. But so do the points that Josh could have helped prevent by rotating a bit quicker on help defense. Josh wasn’t just sagging off his man in the first half; he seemed unable to make up his mind about whether he wanted to help. The result was that he often was in a defensive “no man’s land” where he was neither in an effective position to help nor keeping his own man on a tight enough leash. He cleaned that up beautifully in the second half, hounding passing lanes, denying penetration, and crisply moving back to his man. He seriously looked like Garnett on D in the second half (and JJ looked like Tayshaun).

Playing good help defense (and the deterrent effects created by it) is the defensive equivalent of finding the open man or setting a good screen on offense. Unfortunately, while there is a statistic that is used to quantify finding the open man, there is no equivalent stat on D. And even assists is a poor measure of such good “help offense” because it both fails to capture all forms of passing and off-ball activity that lead to points (rotating the ball to someone with a better angle to pass or drive, setting a screen, etc) and also captures things that are less the responsibility of the player who makes the assist than the person who scored the point or other players on the team (which is where most of the controversy over assists comes from – see this article for one of the more recent assist controversies).

That’s why I prefer to compare “points scored” to “points scored by the person you are assigned to defend while you are defending them.” Neither is a perfect measure, but it’s more reliable than simply adding up points and assists and comparing those to points allowed. In any case, my general point was that in the first half, Josh poor defense seemed to cost us as many points as his good offense created. I don’t think there’s a dispute over that general point.

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
7:52 pm

Well I think it’s safe to say that the Wizards want to play uptempo.

Looks like a later-arriving crowd.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
7:56 pm

Is it worrying anyone else that it took Flip about 30 seconds to figure out that he should take the strategy of having Oberto set a screen so that Josh switches off onto whoever has or is about to get the ball? They know that Josh is our best help defender and that forces Josh to always play on the ball. Will Woody adjust?

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
7:57 pm

Well Oberto is out now so he made the adjustment himself.

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
8:00 pm

Wow, Wizards played zero defense there, they all just watch Josh. No stopping the dribble, nothing. I guess that’s what will be discussed during the TO.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
8:32 pm

Things I liked seeing the most in this game so far:

Joe driving to the basket and drawing fouls. That bucket against three defenders was a thing of beauty.

Jamal Crawford exploding on the scene offensively. This guy is scary. Very scary. Nothing against Flip, but uhh….

Josh with 6 rebounds.

Things I didn’t like:

Josh trying too hard to duplicate his assist totals from last game, and managing to do nearly the opposite with his turnovers.

Brendan Haywood scoring double figures in the first half.

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
8:36 pm

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
8:37 pm

Joe Smith working hard.

kirkinga

October 30th, 2009
8:45 pm

Coach Woodson using his bench so far. I don’t see any reason for concern about anyone playing too many minutes.

vava74

October 30th, 2009
8:53 pm

Nice first half.

High points: Josh’s and Al’s rebounds; Crawford, Joe Smith off the bench. Bibby’s savvy. JJ finally driving to the hoop and posting up.

Low points: Al’s lack of touch today, bad defense on the Wiz’s run and in particular on Haywood, Marvin looking lost out there (can someone give him coffee??)

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
8:54 pm

Nice to be able to rest Joe and not lose anything on offense. Crawford is a step back on defense, but we don’t exactly keep Joe in a game for the sake of defense, and we’re doing better against the Wiz than we were against the Pacers.

Now, will our gameplan continue to work, or will Flip force Woody to think a little harder, and possibly…gasp….adjust?

Wabe

October 30th, 2009
8:55 pm

Great 1st half. On pace to score 115-120 again. The offense clearly has a new look to it. I mean, just think about it for a second, JJ sat on the bench and got some rest towards the end of that half and the Hawks still weren’t slowed much. Much of that is credited to Crawford’s 15 point first half. Didn’t know he was as quick as he is. The guy has a burst to his step and can clearly create his own shot.

We talked about the distribution of minutes after the Indiana game, and I’ll say that Woody did a pretty good job distributing minutes in the first half of this one. I was a bit surprised to see Evans getting as many minutes as he got, but he played alright.

Catch up with yall in a bit.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
8:58 pm

Kirk ,

Yeah, the minutes thing seems to be coming along just fine in this game. Me likey….

Vava ,

Al hasn’t looked great, but I also think he’s meeting up with a better defensive front in the Wiz front line (believe it or not) than he did against Indy.

Marvin has been a non-factor on offense, but on the defensive end, he’s getting the job done. Neither Miller nor “Tough Juice” has done much against him.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
8:59 pm

Good defense by Joe on Arenas, great help on him by the Hawks bigs.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:03 pm

BS call on Josh Smith. Arenas crashed that shoulder into him to keep him from blocking the shot.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:31 pm

Mo Evans has been playing some really solid defense on Mike Miller.

Wabe

October 30th, 2009
9:32 pm

Kinda sloppy third quarter. Didn’t really get much of a flow going with the offense coming out of halftime, and defensively, we’ve got to put body’s in those lanes. They’re really getting into the lanes and drawing contact.

vava74

October 30th, 2009
9:33 pm

very bad 3rd period. too many stupid jump shots…

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:40 pm

We’re not moving around on offense again…geez….

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:42 pm

This is the best way to use “ISO Joe”….on a post up.

This will draw more “defensive 3 seconds” calls.

Joe looks like he’s hurting just a bit….

vava74

October 30th, 2009
9:43 pm

Maaaaaarvin!!! Finally! He’s alive Dr. Frankenstein!!!!

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:44 pm

Just like I said, there it is.

Back ‘em down in the post, draw the defender, somebody is open in a position that they can score in.

Much better than “ISO Joe” out on the perimeter, with absolutely no movement or guys not in position to score.

Joe makes decisions like this, and the game changes on ISO plays, becoming more effective than ever, see?

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:47 pm

Terrific effort by Josh to keep that play alive. THAT is something that definitely doesn’t make the stat sheet, and NEVER gets mentioned on a blog.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:48 pm

Hah! Josh trying to help Marvin up, they both go down.

At this point, Rod would say that Marvin’s clumsiness has rubbed off on Josh…. :lol:

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:50 pm

JOOOOOOOOOSH SMIIIIIIIIIIIIITH!!!!

The block, then the dunk off the PERFECT pass from Bibby!!!!

Wabe

October 30th, 2009
9:52 pm

The “Iso Joe” points was a good point. We’ve seen a couple times in this quarter now where Joe’s gotten the ball on the wing looking to post up. He’s drawn defenders and made some good reads.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:53 pm

WHAT was that foolishness by Joe Johnson?

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:53 pm

AAAGGHH!

What was THAT foolishness by Josh?!

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
9:55 pm

Wabe ,

That’s the way they need to run the bulk of the “Iso Joe” plays. That clock-eating nonsense he did a couple plays ago was just that….nonsense. I don’t want to see that from a guy who should know better.

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
9:59 pm

Al is looking like the second coming of Moses Malone on the boards and Bibby is looking like the Bibby of old as a distributor. JJ picking his spots much better. Josh is still a bit manic, but he’s getting the job done. Marvin has been a shut-down defender all night. I think I’ve seen only two baskets scored against him on the ball.

My favorite moment: Woody just very audibly called for “Joe” on a key offensive possession. Bibby ignored him and ran a pick-and-roll.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:00 pm

Clutch plays both Josh on both ends of the floor.

Crappy no-call on Joe’s move to the basket. Should have been a foul.

Wabe

October 30th, 2009
10:12 pm

Another good effort tonite. Defense was alot better tonite compared to what we saw vs. Indiana. Saw a good mixture of contributions on the offensive end again. We’ll see how improved this team is Sunday night. We have our first big test of the young season at LA. I’m a bit curious to see how this Hawks team plays on the road in a hostile environment. The past couple seasons, we haven’t really proven ourselves to be a good roadteam. To be honest, in some of those games, we didn’t even prove we deserved to be on the same court as some of those teams. But we’ll see how improved this team is in the upcoming week or two. 4 road games in a row is a pretty big test early in the season.

Go Hawks!

Wabe

October 30th, 2009
10:17 pm

And yeah Big Ray, I hadn’t really taken much notice of it until you pointed it out. As soon as you mentioned it, we saw JJ backing down a defender, drawing the double, and kick it out to Marvin for the 3 in the corner and then a couple posessions later, he dished to a cutting Josh who found a wide open Horford for the slam. It’s definately a great adjustment from what we’re used to seeing Joe do with all the dribbling trying to breakdown defenders. Plus, it doesn’t take as much a toll on JJ.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:23 pm

Hawks take it against the Wiz, and finish with a double digit win and century-mark scoring again. I’ll take it.

The defense was better.

I love what Jamal Crawford brought tonight on offense. We needed his quick 16 points, especially on a night where Joe was shooting around 30%. I don’t know which was better, the fact that Jamal shot over 40% from the field and provided a great offensive spark, or the fact that this meant Joe only had to play 30 minutes?

Marvin looked like the invisible man for much of the game, but you turn around and see that he nearly finished with a double double, and very quietly kept his man from scoring much. The 9 rebounds he had really jumps out at you. Normally he’s a 5 or 6 rebound guy. Some of that was due to Al and Josh tipping rebounds away from opponents, but guess what? Marvin kept possession.

Josh Smith looked much more mature. He played quite well, and was a serious hustler on the boards, keeping a lot of balls alive (that won’t show up in the stat book), and challenging many more shots (there’s not almost-blocks in the stat column either). It was also another good shooting night for Smith, leading the team with 20 points. Clutch plays on both ends of the court towards the end of the game, he was the biggest difference.

Horford had a rough game offensively, but he finishes with a double-double again, and that’s what you know you get from him minimally.

Bibby was another bright spot in the backcourt. Savvy as all get out with his passing.

Joe Johnson did not shoot well, but he still managed 17 points, the mark of a truly good player. I didn’t like some of his offensive attempts (there was no double team, but he drove into the teeth of a defense that was waiting on him and gave him nothing but an impossible shot), but some of that was play-calling. He more than made up for that by turning the bulk of the ISO plays into post-ups, which forced better personnel and ball movement, and resulted in a positive net gain nearly every time he did it. And who can get mad at a man who gets you 5 boards and 6 assists along with the rest of it?

Gotta give Woody props. The bench got serious minutes and guys like Joe Smith and Mo Evans had nice contributions.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:25 pm

One more thing on Joe. He should have gone to the line more. You’d think with the whistle-happy refs, Joe would have had another 6 points on free throws alone…..at least. But not, they want to call slap fouls on Zaza and Smith…

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:28 pm

Another thought on Josh….he got a little excited on offense, turning the ball over with a sloppy pass here or there. But he calmed right down after that, and made good plays. Against tougher teams, he will have to keep the turnovers down, because they will certainly turn them into points. The Wiz are capable of doing that, but they’re not good enough yet on offense to do so.

The Lakers? They’ll kill you with that. So will the Spurs, Celtics, Cavs, and Magic.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:35 pm

Wabe ,

That was a great idea by Joe Johnson. This is what I meant in an earlier blog when I said there were some things that Joe could do to make the way we play better, despite Woody. Woody likes to call ISO. Joe kept it ISO, but turned it into something far more effective than what we used to run.

Props to Joe. That’s how you overcome a coach’s temerity and need for a security blanket. That’s the mark of a truly good player. Now all he needs to do is remember that, and exploit it against teams that he can exploit it against.

But his teammates have to remember it, too. If they keep moving to spots where they can be effective, then Joe can draw the double team effectively, or score on the block and/or draw the foul. If not, then it’s not effective. Looks like his teammates knew what to do, and I could see Joe talking to them some, as well. Love it….

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
10:40 pm

At least 3 and possibly 4 or 5 of JJ’s “misses” should have been foul calls. Take away those and his shooting percentage looks a lot better, and he probably ends up with 23-25 points. But as you said, Ray, it looks like the refs were too busy calling touch fouls on Josh, Zaza, and JoeS.

Big Ray

October 30th, 2009
10:45 pm

Looks like the Cavs finally found a team they could beat. Heh…the T-Wolves…

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
10:49 pm

Flip seemed tentative about trapping JJ, which led to a lot of easy looks for the other Hawks. That’s what happens when you run plays for the other players. As I said, the moment where Woody shouted for the ball to go to Joe, but Bibby set up a different play instead – Marvin set a screen, Bibby went against it, fed Josh, who got an and-one. Joe played his part in it, heading to the corner early in the clock to draw his defender away from the action.

That’s what our guards might have to do when Woody calls ISO Joe on a play where everyone in the building knows it’s coming…

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
11:01 pm

Interesting analysis on 82games:
http://82games.com/starsandbusts.htm

Marvin isn’t on the list of the 50 “worst value” picks in the NBA today. And that’s just based on his stats, which seems to be the main point of the criticisms against him. Hummmmmm…. :twisted:

niremetal

October 30th, 2009
11:06 pm

Notice who’s #8 on that list, though: Shelden. Just “ahead” of Darko and Olowokandi. Yikes.

Also on the list: Yaroslav Korolev (#23), Cal Bowdler (#48). Dunno how Priest Lauderdale and Roshown McLeod escaped the list. Worse still: Not a single Hawks draft pick in the top 50. Double yikes.

The Hawks also tied for dead last with the Knicks for “worst-drafting team”:
http://82games.com/bestdraftingteams.htm

Triple yikes.

Ed

October 31st, 2009
1:08 am

Very good win but Woody has already shortened his bench and this only the second game of the year. Zaza & Teague got only 9 mins each which doesn’t help either player’s confidence. This is especially true with JT…if he’s going to be a player this year you have to consistently give him meaningful minutes.

niremetal

October 31st, 2009
1:42 am

Zaza was in foul trouble. And much as I love JT0, he hasn’t earned a consistent 18-20 minutes yet. Not with Bibby and Crawford playing as solidly as they are so far. As long as he plays every night and averages 12-15 minutes per game, his development should come along fine. I don’t want to see too many 8-9 minute games, but the occasional one should be expected for a rookie.

KevinA

October 31st, 2009
6:51 pm

Looked to me we drifted to the back court jucking up to many jumpers. Not overly so but noticeable. I see no reason for that with the play of Josh, Al, Joe Smith and Evans. Hmmmmmmmm noticed the FG% for the big’s? Marvin was off some but if they would ran a couple of plays for him to drive he might of snapped out of it early.

Crawford gets much credit but who gets the ball to Evans? The Hawks hottest player? Isn’t it a given you should pass to your hottest player? His hot streak goes back into preseason. No reason not to pass the ball more.

Was coach saving ZaZa for LA? Refering to Al’s 39 minutes.

Still a great win. No big problems, just observations.

KevinA

October 31st, 2009
7:28 pm

niremetal

October 31st, 2009
1:42 am
And much as I love JT0, he hasn’t earned a consistent 18-20 minutes yet. Not with Bibby and Crawford playing as solidly as they are so far.

I agree with you on JT but a few more minutes should go from Bibby to Crawford. His D seems better than Bibby’s. He should concentrate his attention to defense. Seems to me has the best potential among JT/Bibby/Crawford to guard at this point.

JJ 35
Bibby 20
JT 12
Crawford 21

In respect for the vet, Bibby starts, if he is hot me should get more. If Bibby is not hot,
Crawford may get more. On back to back nights the minutes could change also. For JT to get more minutes he would have to explode on offense and guard well. Could happen in any given game.

Crawford should shoot less and work on his assist totals. If he can effiectivly get JJ and Josh Smith a shot at all star consideration with his great skills, I think he will become harder and harder to take off the floor.

I give him the same goals as JJ and Bibby. If you cant shoot a FG% of .450 or better, you need to be setting up your other team mates.

At the end of the day we will not beat the best teams unless we shoot at least .450

Great game with no real problems, just a couple of observations. .

niremetal

October 31st, 2009
8:20 pm

KevinA,

Sorry, but I don’t agree that Crawford is any better on D than Bibby. Crawford always goes under screens and makes no effort to deny penetration. Bibby is slower but much savvier as a defender; Crawford plays neither hard nor smart on that end, from what I’ve seen. Not only that, but Bibby so far seems to mesh perfectly with the rest of the starting 5, and increasing Crawford’s minutes will mean that he’s playing more with the starters. Right now, Crawford looks great leading the second unit and giving us a “different look” occasionally. I don’t agree at all that we should curtail Bibby’s minutes considering how well he’s playing right now.

junebaby

October 31st, 2009
10:46 pm

i get the feeling on a lot of the comments, that they are a little bit hyper-critical. it’s still only the 2nd game of the season, and nothing is set in stone yet. not defensive rotations, offensive sets, or minutes. players are still getting a feel for their games, and only playing games over time can give them that. the more time they have in game situations, the better feel they get, for where to be, when to rotate, where to set-up, etc. etc. jto will have nights when things don’t go his way, he’s not in kansas anymore. i worry about where collins’ mins. will come from, because he will be needed in the future, and i worry that he won’t be sharp! but all-in-all, two good wins, and i’m looking forward to the game sunday night.

Big Ray

October 31st, 2009
11:03 pm

Nice observations, guys.

Of course, if we wanted to be overly technical, we could end each and every opinion with “..but it’s only the second game of the season.” But that’s no fun.

I like a good bit of what I see so far, and while there is always plenty to nitpick about (especially if you’re a serious nitpicker), I feel that there is more to like so far, than there was last year (and we started fast last year as well).

There have been suble reactions/interactions among the players that weren’t there before.

The Lakers game is going to be a serious test for this team, and for the coach. We’ll see what happens.

Ed

November 1st, 2009
2:29 am

In the end, Woody will be Woody and everything will revert back to last year’s pattern of player rotations only with different players. It’s just a matter of time before some of the bench players start bemoaning their lack of consistent minutes and acknowledging their lack of understanding of their role on the team.

Sautee

November 1st, 2009
4:20 pm

NIre,

No disrespect intended, but lately you sound like Ariose when he was Salimfan. ;-)

I don’t know if I’ve EVER seen a player so stubbornly defended, even when there is no need to defend.

So, I’ve decided to call you JJFan from now on. ;-)

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
4:41 pm

Sautee,

I’m sorry, but what? Only one of my posts on this thread was primarily about JJ. And that one was hardly a vociferous defense of him – if you look at my comment on Sekou’s thread at about the same time, I said it was good that he was taking most of his shots in the paint now, since he didn’t do that in the past.

So seriously, what the hell prompted that?

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
4:48 pm

And no, I’m not amused by the little winks and nudges in your post. When the rest of the post is uncalled for, making it look friendly doesn’t change that. Because to be blunt, I’m close to dead last on the list of people around here who bash their disfavored players and pump up their favorite players without cause.

Big Ray

November 1st, 2009
8:56 pm

Ummmm, okay then.

Well, new blog will be up soon, before the game starts at the very least.

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
9:12 pm

You can’t make this stuff up. Manu Ginobili hit a bat out of midair that flew from the rafters onto the court during a game. On Halloween:

Here’s the picture. And here’s the story.

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
9:57 pm

Wait, is this the place to be to blog now? Cause I was getting disappointed over at Sekou’s blog. :( None of the regulars from last year were there.

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
10:05 pm

Reggie,

Yeah. Think of this blog as akin to Cheers – it’s not as busy as the place up the street, but it’s a place where everybody knows your name :)

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
10:06 pm

And lemme apologize to Sautee for snapping at him much harder than was called for. Blame it on my continued indecisiveness on who to pick for those last 3 spots in League Pass Choice…

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
10:07 pm

Niremetal:
Okay, I think I’ll hang out at the place where everybody knows my name.
Maybe Rod/Sam won’t be able to find his way here. ;)

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
10:15 pm

If we’re Cheers, I think I’m definitely Cliff.

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
10:24 pm

Big Ray

November 1st, 2009
10:45 pm

Hey guys, new blog is up…finally. Having computer troubles of all sorts…