Thanksgiving throwdown

Ah yes, Turkey Day is just about here. Normally, I’d be all psyched about which football teams are playing. I looked that schedule over and came away less than impressed. Green Bay and Detroit? Yuck. Oakland versus Dallas? Surely you jest. Denver and New York is about the best it will get, and I’m really not interested in that one either, plus I’m still smarting from the overtime loss that my beloved Atlanta Falcons suffered to the Giants. I’m still not happy about the loss to Dallas either, so in keeping with the holiday gridiron vengeful spirit, I’ll just say “Go Broncos and Raiders!”, albeit half-heartedly.

Ah, but there is one matchup that I’m extremely interested in, as I’m sure all of you, my fellow Hawksville denizens, are as well. Orlando versus Atlanta, a roundball treat on a hardwood setting! Now I know what some are thinking. In an 82 game season, how could a person get so wound up over what happens to be just the 15th game? Is 15 games a good measure of how far a team has come, or how far it has to go? Well, those are valid questions, and I am certain that there are many more questions behind those, every one of them just as valid.  I’ll say that the importance of this game is not just based on any one thing. It is a basis for  judgment on a team’s progress throughout a set number of games, but it is also about who that team is playing. Furthermore, it is about the various chain reactions that can come from a win or  a loss.

When a team is learning to win, there are several stages that the team must go through. Sometimes a team can leapfrog some of those stages, winning big, and doing so quickly (the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics). But this is often not the case. No, it is usually one step at a time, and may involve both backward and forward steps, though overall progress (or in some cases, regress) can be gauged at the end of a season or several seasons. Thus it is with our Atlanta Hawks, who are aspiring to break into the ranks of the NBA’s elite. And as we all know, to be the best, you have to beat the best. In our division, that would be the Orlando Magic, who also happen to be the reigning Eastern Conference champions. But enough pontificating, let’s get on with what the nuts and bolts of this game.

 

HAWKS VS MAGIC

Both teams are coming into this game with 11-3 records. The Magic have a five game winning streak that they hope to keep alive when they play Miami tonight. The Hawks had a seven game winning streak snapped when they ran out of gas in New Orleans. The Magic might be tired. The Hawks might be out of rhythm or rusty. You just never know. Both teams are deeper than they were last year, though just about anybody who asks will give that edge to Orlando, hands down. It’s hard to argue against that, as Orlando has a great deal of useable talent, and basically has all positions covered two men deep at the least.

What you might remember

If you are a Hawks fan, this is one of those trips down memory lane that you just don’t want to take. The Magic beat the Hawks last season, and it wasn’t pretty. Most memorable was the back-to-back games against them. The first wasn’t so bad, but the second was an embarrassment to end all embarrassments. The Magic were up by 50 at one point in the game, and coasted to a lopsided victory that was actually worse than the final score. Fast forward to this year’s preseason game , wherein the Magic again beat the Hawks like a drum.  Do the Magic have some sort of psychological edge on the Hawks? Is the difference in talent really that large? Does coaching have anything to do with it? Whatever the case, the Hawks have to figure out a way to break the spell that the Magic seem to have on them.

These guys might be trouble

Right out of the gate, I just about have to pick Vince Carter as my first game maker/game breaker. Vinsanity isn’t shooting very well of late (41%), and he is taking quite a few shots regardless of that. In fact, it’s obvious just looking at the numbers, that he is taking quite a few touches from Dwight Howard. But that is another story. The fact is, Carter has been trouble in the past for us, and he can be trouble on any given night. If he gets hot, particularly from 20 feet or more, it’s going to be a VERY rough night for the Hawks.

My next pick is Jameer Nelson. Nelson isn’t shooting an impressive percentage from the field overall (44%), but his 3 point shooting is a definite threat (42%). Tough, reasonably quick and strong, Nelson can feed off of his bigger and more potent teammates. If he gets good looks from deep, he’s going to hit the shots. I’ve never seen him as an all-star level talent, but on a team like this, he doesn’t have to be.

Last but not least is Ryan Anderson, and personally he bothers me more than Nelson does. Having served his suspension, Rashard Lewis moved back into the starting lineup, relegating Anderson back to the bench. Lewis has understandably struggled. Anderson has not. At 6′10″, and with as much range as Lewis, there is no let up when he comes into the game, creating a near duplicate matchup nightmare off the bench that few teams (if any) can counter.

Really, Nelson is the darkhorse of the three, and may not factor into this as much as Carter or Anderson. But what the heck, why not step out on a limb?

Dwight Howard’s numbers are 17.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.7 blocks, 1.4 assists, and 4.1 fouls per game. Compare those to Al Horford, who is getting 13.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 2 assists, and 2.7 fouls per game. Hmmmmm. Is Al on the way up, while Dwight is on the way down? It’s really too early to tell, but Orlando’s team chemistry has to be a question, one that may be asked in the same fashion that it was late in last season’s playoffs. Of course, when you are 11-3 in your first 14 games, rumblings tend to be below the surface for the most part. Well, when you are a perennial power, that is. When you’re not, EVERYTHING gets called into question. But we wouldn’t do that around here, now would we?

Outside of the game makers/breakers and the superior depth, the Magic present a few other major problems. One will sneak up on you, but another won’t. Another may or may not rekindle an old flaming argument. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Stat-wise, the casual observor may not be too impressed with the Magic and their big name guys. Vince Carter leads the team in scoring with 18.7 ppg, followed by Dwight’s 17.4, as mentioned above. Big whoop, you say. Jamal Crawford gets nearly 17 off the bench. Ah, but the Magic have six guys averaging double figures in scoring. To put it into greater perspective, the 7th leading scorer is getting 9.9 ppg, and the 8th leading scorer is getting 9.1 per. Get the picture now?

Orlando is also unequivocally balanced. Eleven guys average double figures in minutes. More specifically, the eleventh guy from the top in minutes played per game gets over 18 per (Gortat). The twelfth guy is the only one not getting double figure minutes (Anthony Johnson). He only gets 9.7. If there is a coach in the NBA who seems particularly on top of his players’ minutes, it has to be Stan Van Gundy.

Finally, the Magic are one of the league’s more consistent threats from long range. They shoot 36.7 percent from the arc as a team, and they aren’t at all shy about putting it up. Five different guys are shooting over 40%, all of whom have made a minimum of 35 attempts. A sixth is shooting 38% (Carter) with 60 attempts, and two known 3-point threats have struggled badly (Lewis, Barnes), but are still a threat to go off at that range any given night.

Say What?

- Matt Barnes is the third leading rebounder on this team. That’s right. MATT BARNES. At 5.7 grabs per game, he trails Dwight Howard (duh…11.1 rpg) and Rashard Lewis (6.5 rpg). Oddly enough, Barnes has only started half of Orlando’s games, and is averaging a decent-but-not-heavy 25.6 minutes per game. Bass averages 4 minutes less per game, but grabs 2.5 less per game. Gortat gets 4.5 in 18.6 mpg. Huh? I thought Barnes was all shooter, and nothing else? Go figure….

Here’s the trick: everybody pitches in. The Magic have ten guys who average at the very least, 2.5 rebounds per game, with most getting 3 or 4 per game. And yet, the Hawks are averaging more rebounds per game than the Magic are, which gives one hope.

BOTTOM LINE

 The Hawks have to want it. They have to want it like they did in Boston earlier this year. The Magic have a lot to work with, but they are NOT invincible. The Hawks have a chance to prove that the gap between the two teams is not the chasm that many around the league assert that it is. But they have to want, in the worst way.

So what do you think? Can the Hawks shake the past off and expose the southeast neighborhood bully? Who are the key players for the Hawks in this game? Will Hawks fans show up with the REDOUT going strong?

 

WELCOME BACK

Now you KNOW I couldn’t do this without echoing everybody else and saying, “Welcome back Astro Joe!”

Good to have you back, man. Hang in there and you’ll be back slicing and dicing the b-ball bs, just like old times.

75 comments Add your comment

rms

November 25th, 2009
9:09 pm

As long as the Hawks dont get embarrased I can at least settle for a hard fought game. Maybe this game will expose some flaws and our weaknesses that we can improve on? I think Bibby will play and Teague wont get much burn because Woody wants to look good on National TV. Dont forget that they got a game after Orlando in Philly so hopefully the starters wont be burned out too bad. Orlando is playing tonite so maybe they will be tired tommorow.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot……………FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!

falcon21

November 25th, 2009
9:56 pm

The Hawks need to show on National TV what they are made of, no flaws or weaknesses. This team can play with anyone. Good job Big Ray!!!

Mychelfromatl

November 25th, 2009
10:05 pm

Wow!!! Wade is killin the Magic. I Love it!!!!

Mychelfromatl

November 25th, 2009
10:27 pm

WOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!! Whatta game in Orlando!!! Michael Beasley got his Josh Smithon!!!

Man I can’t wait for tomorrow night!! REDDDDOOOUUUUTTTTTTT!!!

Wabe

November 25th, 2009
10:29 pm

Well, the Magic just took a tough loss at home to the Heat. We’ll get them on the 2nd half of their back to back tomorrow night.

Can’t wait!

dstdeelite

November 25th, 2009
11:05 pm

Orlando’s loss tonight scares me. On one hand, you’ll figure they’ll be tired from scrapping with D-Wade and crew. On the other hand, you’ll figure they’re mad as hell and are probably going to take it out on us. Those three pointers that weren’t falling tonight, will most certainly fall tomorrow night. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason Orlando and VC have our number. I’ll be rooting for our guys. I just hope they believe in themselves and go out there and execute like they did in Boston. BTW they always complain about fans not showing up for the games. Could it be because the freakin box office was closed when I went up there today? WTF is that about? Seriously, you’re hosting a big Thanksgiving game and your box office is closed before noon?

doc

November 25th, 2009
11:09 pm

truth and aj on the same last blog, durn ray your stock price just went up.

we need to avoid a smack down for sure, better yet steal a win from these guys before they become too organized.

Ree Roe

November 25th, 2009
11:22 pm

Jameer Nelson was injured last week and will be out 4-6 weeks. Kinda disappointing you didn’t mention that considering you spent a great deal of time debating his potential impact on tomorrow night’s game.

Let’s have a RED OUT & show America we support our team. Go Hawks & Dawgs!

-REEcently Roe!

MyView

November 25th, 2009
11:25 pm

I know the loss is good for the Hawks, but it makes me think the Magic will “bring it” tomorrow. If the FANS and players bring it, we should be alright though. GO HAWKS!!!!!!

GO HAWKS

November 25th, 2009
11:29 pm

Well Jameer Nelson is out with an injury but that Jason Williams guy is no walk in the park either…..tough game but i believe the Hawks will be ready.They havent played in days and they know that the Magic won’t be easy so i think they will be fine

Melvin

November 25th, 2009
11:47 pm

Good to hear from Astro Joe. Come back soon buddy.

Oh my, what a day tomorrow is going to be. Plenty of good food to eat while watching my Raiders beat Dallas on the big screen and be in the Highlight Factory later tomorrow night to watch my Hawks put a beat down on the Magic. However, I will be brought back to reality on Friday when I have to take my lady shopping at Georgia Perimeter Outlet on Black Friday.

Melvin

November 25th, 2009
11:55 pm

Oh yeah, Astro Joe you are a classy guy. You man up to your inaccurate assessment of Crawford although you’re not 100%. Hats off too you dude.

MannyT,

Will you be there tomorrow night? I couldn’t remember if you said you were or not. I know Doc will be absent tomorrow. He’s still breaking the ice…heh,heh…

48 Minutes of Hell

November 26th, 2009
12:31 am

yeah, wtf.. Jameer Nelson has been hurt for a while now.. Nice blog, Atlanta; that’s pathetic.

[...] even more on this somewhat overhyped game, check out my homeboy Ray-Ray over at the old grey lady- and have a blessed Thanksgiving [...]

dunkem

November 26th, 2009
6:25 am

let’s get rid of joe johnson while some think’s he has value.let crawford get his minute’s. we could use a big bruiser inside ben wallce rasheed wallace etc. but as alway’s go hawk’s…..j smooth your a star

dstdeelite

November 26th, 2009
9:42 am

This game is somewhat reminiscent of the first road game we played against the Lakers. They had just come off a loss at home and they weren’t about to lose two in row. I still feel we had a chance to win that game. A couple of mental lapses cost us that game. Does anyone know what time the box office will open today?

vava74

November 26th, 2009
9:45 am

Big Ray,

I must join the chorus of unforgiving bloggers that complain for the major slip up of including Nelson on your “scouting report”.

I know that it is difficult to keep up with everything when you have a day job (which probably includes many nights as well), however, this once was major… :-)

Here is a nice “scouting report” on the Magic by Charley Rosen @ msn.foxsports.com:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/10425206/Carter-can‘t-save-Magic-from-tough-loss-vs.-Heat

Hawkshurrah

November 26th, 2009
9:53 am

I consider myself a casual NBA fan rooting for the Hawks, but I don’t understand how you can follow the NBA at all and not know that Jameer Nelson is out for quite a while. Sorry, but your credibility took a super big hit with me with this one. Won’t be wasting my time with this blog in the future.

mountain_jim

November 26th, 2009
10:37 am

Here Big Ray takes on the after-hours gig of a fan blog, and gets trashed up and down for not knowing every aspect of every team.

So easy to be critical, think how much work he puts into writing these.

In fact, don’t waste your time reading here if you want ‘credibility’ and perfection, will be more time left for you to get on your high horses and slam many other targets you will no doubt find around to go off on.

Keep it up and you might not have a fan blog to spout off on, just like you don’t have a local expert (Sekou) around to create topics for you here anymore either.

GO HAWKS! (A rare game I get to see here in NC)

richbrave

November 26th, 2009
11:15 am

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to our blogmeister, all regular posters, and lurkers alike.

richbrave

November 26th, 2009
11:16 am

BIG RAY:

Thanks for helping to keep the ATLANTA’s mean streets safe for us posting fools.

doc

November 26th, 2009
11:47 am

jameer is critical to the equation, got on eaten up earlier on the other site but i suggested it may fit better for teague that he is gone leaving him to match up against slower more mature points that are beyond their peek or coming out of retirement or certainly not e the challenge to bibby even on a bum leg that nelson might have.

vava et al. when you are perfect in the realm of blogging then cast a stone. until then be cool and be thankful as this is what this day is about.

thanks ray, for your relentless, tireless and er apparently thankless job you do from savannah area no less. yup folks the cat is doing this for you long distance.

my thanks to all of you that create this “reality” of the liars table.

personally, i am thankful for the discussants and punctuation mark counters/police on our blog and all discourse that ensues. heh heh they/you keep us all honest. be real guys and enjoy family/friends, etc.

richbrave

November 26th, 2009
11:59 am

No worries BIG RAY. Your credibility is safe with me. I know less than you do. doc just informed me you were relo’d to SAVANNAH? For real. A great and toddling little town. One of my fav places in the world.

vava74

November 26th, 2009
12:01 pm

Hi doc,

I was pulling Big Ray’s chain if you did not notice. I will continue to read Big Ray’s enthusiastic and entertaining posts and support this blog regardless of any imprecisions.

I just think that in spite of all of his official duties and the time devoted to the sharpening of the turkey carving knife he should have noticed that Jameer was out with an injury.

My guess is that Big Ray had this post partially done preemptively a few days back and forgot to update the info.

O'Brien

November 26th, 2009
12:10 pm

Whats the final word on Bibby? Will he play tonight? Bibby would have a better game against Williams than against Nelson.

As someone mentioned earlier (it might have been Ray), let Dwight get his, but do not double team him and leave the shooters open. Hornets shot almost 70% from 3, and Orlando can go off from deep.

We should use up all our fouls (especially ZaZa and Collins) on Howard. Send him to the FT line, where he is shooting 57%. And foul him hard, (no And ones, and hopefully no dunks). Plus we need Josh, Marvin and Al to be very active on the glass.

MyView

November 26th, 2009
12:17 pm

The blog is meant to be entertaining, not informative. As far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished. And that I am thankful for. Keep up the good work…

MyView

November 26th, 2009
12:21 pm

O’brien, I agree that these are the games that I thought we aquired Collins for. Just like the Lakers game. I thought he should have gotten about 10-15mins against Bynum, and I feel that he should get a few against Dwight tonight. Probably just wishing though knowing Woody. If the Hawks win, I will remain hush.

Sautee

November 26th, 2009
12:25 pm

Melvin,

Mrs. Sautee and I will be there tonight (thanks again doc). We will be near the Jack Daniels booth at halftime. We usually see MannyT there. I’ll have a red long sleeve t-shirt with “Sweetwater Coffeehouse” on it. Look for us and let’s meet face to face. And any other bloggers coming to the game, we’d love to meet you, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sautee

November 26th, 2009
12:33 pm

Melvin,

Mrs. Sautee and I will be at the game tonight (thanks again doc). We will be near the Jack Daniels booth at halftime, where we usually see Manny, jhan, sometimes Ando, and EJ (Homegrown). Join us there and let’s meet face to face.
I’ll be wearing a red long sleeve t-shirt with “Sweetwater Coffeehouse” on it.

Any other bloggers attending, please drop by and let’s connect. You too, truth-serum if you come. Lemme buy you a beer.

Peace, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

sleepy

November 26th, 2009
1:30 pm

Tonight we should start Crawford and send him directly at Jason Williams and Anthony Carter and attempt to neutralize that drive and kick game that got them 14 made threes last night .
its the second night of back to backs attack those old legs of Jwill and Carter

O'Brien

November 26th, 2009
2:36 pm

sleepy,

The problem with starting Crawford is you lose your firepower off the bench. Actually, along those lines, Woody could start Teague at PG, Crawford at SG, and JJ at SF. And then we could bring Marvin off the bench.

That way, we have Crawford and JJ to start the game (we dont want to fall behind early like we have in other games). And Teague wont be forced to do too much.

Later on, Crawford can play some PG, Marvin at SF, and we can use JJ or Evans at SG (depending on the flow).

doc

November 26th, 2009
2:45 pm

sautee, melvin knows the seats well and carouses there when he is not a guest on the kiss cam.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
2:49 pm

I apologize for the slip. No, I did not read up closely on all of the Orlando Magic players, and didn’t see that Nelson is now in rehab after knee surgery.

What can I say? I goofed.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
4:24 pm

O’brien ,

That lineup is definitely an option. Only one problem I have with it: starting Jamal at the 2 spot probably means he’ll be guarding Vince Carter. Carter hasn’t been exactly spot-on of late, but Jamal is anything but a defensive stopper. We can either hope that he plays out of his mind on defense, or hope that Vince has one of his 8-25 shooting nights. I’m not sure I want to gamble on either. And the last thing I want is for Vince to make like Stella and get his groove back, against us.

But, it IS an option…..

Melvin

November 26th, 2009
4:24 pm

Sautee,
I will have on the a black short sleeve Hawks shirt. I will catch you at JD spot if I dont come by the luxury seats.

Doc,
I will catch you next time.

Big Ray,
No apologies needed. You are still the man.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
4:25 pm

Anyway, catch you fellow Hawkers in a while. Thanksgiving Dinner awaits, but before that, I gotta go run a few plates to my Pops….he actually has to work today, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate us dropping him some grub by the office.

Peace….

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

November 26th, 2009
4:47 pm

Happy Thanksgiving yall. I’m stuffed and ready for this showdown btw 2 beast in the southeast. Orlando is hot over that loss last night and they are looking to crush early – I believe the boys will come with their A game though. Anyone know the status on Bibby? Is he still a game time decision?

[...] Ah yes, Turkey Day is just about here. Normally, I’d be all psyched about which football teams are playing. I looked that schedule over and came away less than impressed. Green Bay and Detroit? Yuck. Oakland versus Dallas? Surely you jest. …Read Original Story: Thanksgiving throwdown – Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

[...] Ah yes, Turkey Day is just about here. Normally, I’d be all psyched about which football teams are playing. I looked that schedule over and came away less than impressed. Green Bay and Detroit? Yuck. Oakland versus Dallas? Surely you jest. …Read Original Story: Thanksgiving throwdown – Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

niremetal

November 26th, 2009
8:42 pm

The number of offensive fouls that D-12 gets away with is truly amazing.

Ed

November 26th, 2009
8:57 pm

Was that a JT0 spotting…think I just saw him make a brilliant play. Time for Woody to take him out.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
9:42 pm

Hot dang! Up by double digits at the half, and playing fairly decent to start the third! We keep this up, and we have the game won, but we have to get Dwight into more foul trouble and keep attacking them.

Meanwhile, looks to me like JJ and Bibby came ready to play.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
9:44 pm

Hawkshurrah ,

I guess since you won’t be back to waste your time here, I shouldn’t waste mine by saying that I am much like you: a casual NBA fan. This is a fan blog. I’m a fan hosting it. Sorry to waste your time….

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
9:54 pm

Hmmmm….Dwight is getting just a tad frustrated. We need to take advantage of that, instead of letting him fuel his way to a better, more effective game…

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
10:02 pm

One ISO play after another. What is the problem, do we NOT know how to call other plays? Of course, I’m absolutely sure that all sorts of wonderful offensive ideas are flowing from the sideline and falling on five pairs of absolutely deaf ears. Yes, that must be it.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
10:10 pm

I am sick of watching JJ Reddick score on us.

Ed

November 26th, 2009
10:17 pm

We’ve ISO’d ourselves out of the lead. So disappointing. Al should have far more touches than he’s gotten.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
10:23 pm

Can’t seem to buy a shot right now, but we’re also not getting very good looks. All the same, we are still competing in this game, despite the numerous miscues and mistakes. The Magic are having to fight for this, it ain’t coming easy.

And yet, a moral victory doesn’t do anything for me, ya know?

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
10:24 pm

Ed ,

No kidding. Funny, they interviewed Woody and he said they needed to go inside more in the second half. Okay, so somebody isn’t listening to somebody, eh?

Big Ray

November 26th, 2009
10:31 pm

Marvin got bailed out on that call…he’d already lost the ball.