Archive for December, 2009

Worth a scare, but not quite there

What on earth does it take for the Hawks to beat the Cavs? To be on equal footing as the Cavs? Can it be done as is, or are there changes that have to be made? Are the changes something in execution, gameplan, player personnel, or what?

It’s not that the Hawks played a bad game. We’ve certainly seen worse from them, and the level of effort was greater than it was against Orlando earlier this year, or the L.A. Lakers. Is effort even the problem? Maybe it’s just part of the problem. How much of a part, is the question. After watching the Hawks hang in there until the very end (and even the last minute or so showed that it wasn’t quite over….well, until Iggy hit that 3, that is), only to lose a heartbreaker, I’m not sure we can pinpoint any one thing here. But, we can run down the list, no? And, we can see how many things, if any, are related.

Let’s start with what is perhaps the most popular one. The Cavs are bigger. Okay, we knew that already. They had dominated the boards …

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Don’t look now

But here come the Cavaliers.

What’s that you say? I skipped the Pacers game and the Cavs aren’t due for another three days?  I have something to say about Indiana, but honestly….is it the Pacers that are on your mind, or the Cavaliers? Be honest. I know what’s on my mind. Hawks versus Cavs, and chance to go in one of two directions before the season’s half. Yes, I know that with today’s game against the Pacers, and both Cavs games, it will only make 31 games for the Hawks. And All-Star weekend takes place several games down the road yet. However, how the Hawks do against the Cavs (and in the next 13 games overall) can determine , in part, how they end the first half of the season. And rather than look at how we compare to the entire Big Three, we’ll just look at the leader of our division, the Orlando Magic.

Having been dismantled by a very good looking Celtics team, the Orlando Magic stand at 22 and 8, just one game ahead of us. Of course, they just finished a somewhat rough …

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Hawks soar, then stumble

Meanwhile somewhere in the mountainous of Pennsylvania.….

Road trips aren’t always a lot of fun.The Atlanta Hawks and any other NBA team can tell you that. And if you are traveling for the Holidays, you can probably attest to it as well.

On the heels of an 18 1/2 hour drive from southeast georgia to Pennsylvania (we drove through what radio stations in Virginia were dubbing “The Blizzard of  ‘09″), in which I missed both of the last two Hawks games, I have to be thankful. Even if the Hawks lost to the Bulls in overtime, they beat the Jazz before that, and made it look relatively easy. Oh, and  we made it  safely through the worst snow, sleet, and  ice situation (even if the trip took several hours longer than it should have, due to road closures and the need to reduce speed drastically) I’ve ever been in by far. Ah yes, sometimes there is just no substitute for The Beast (my Ford F-150 Supercrew FX4), which powered right past one spun-out hybrid sedan or sports car after …

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Potentially big test prior to road trip

The Utah Jazz are about as up and down as any of the other good-but-not-great teams in the NBA. At home, they are 11-4, but their road record is 4-6. They’ve lost to Oklahoma City, Sacramento, and Minnesota (twice). Nevertheless, Utah cannot be taken lightly, as they have recorded recent wins against the Orlando Magic and LA Lakers, something the Hawks themselves haven’t been able to do yet this season.

The Hawks embark on a four game road trip that starts in Chicago tomorrow evening, followed by visits to Minnesota, Denver and Indiana. After that, they’ll face back to back contests with Cleveland, which will be split between the two cities.

HAWKS VS JAZZ

The Hawks sit at 18-6 and second in the eastern conference, while the Jazz hold fifth place in the west, with a record of 15-10. Yet, both teams are 7-3 in their last ten games. The difference? Atlanta is on a five game winning streak, while the Jazz have had consecutive wins just once in the last eight games.

Key …

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Hawks finish December with series of challenges

The second half of December will be prove to be a challenge for the Atlanta Hawks. They’ve gone 5 and 1 for the month so far, with four blowout wins over bad teams, one humbling loss, and one grind-it-out win over a good team. Not at all bad for a team that is out to prove just how good they really are. But after playing four of those six games at home, the Hawks finsh off the month (and the calendar year) with five of their eight games being played on the road. Among the most daunting? Utah visits the Highlight Factory this Friday, the Hawks travel to Denver on the 23rd, and then face Cleveland in back to back games on the 29th and 30th. In between all of that is are visits to Indiana, Minnesota, and Chicago. Indy and Chicago have already felt the wind from the Hawks’ wings. Will Minnesota succumb to the flurry of talons as well, or prove to be an opponent that can compete?

You can never truly assume anything in the NBA when it comes to wins and losses, and the first …

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Hawks first quarter report

The first twenty games in a season can tell you a lot about a team. It also doesn’t tell you nearly enough, depending on what you’re looking for. Either way, it’s a good time to gauge a team’s progress to an extent, and look for emerging trends and patterns. So, we’ll talk about the offense, defense, and the effect of coaches and players on each. After 22 games, the Hawks stand with a 16-6 record, good enough for third in the eastern conference, and fourth in the NBA overall. Surprised? Not surprised?

Offense

Atlanta is currently fifth in the NBA in points scored per game with an average of 104.68 ppg. The other hard numbers include a 47.2 field goal percentage, a 34.5 three point percentage, 77.2 free throw percentage, and 21.68 assists per game. The Hawks are outperforming their opponents in all of the aforementioned categories except three point percentage, where opponents are shooting 37%.

What’s the explanation, and who gets the credit for it? Well, a number of things …

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Battle with Bulls, Rematch with Raptors

The Hawks have had a chance to rest and reload since the grind-it-out win in Dallas. The last time they had a rest like this, they came in focused and blew a badly struggling Toronto Raptors team right out of the water before the halftime buzzer sounded. Will they do the same against Chicago tomorrow night, or will the Bulls be the latest in a line of teams that shouldn’t be beating the Hawks, but are?

After tomorrow’s hosting of the Bulls, the Hawks travel to Toronto for a rematch with the Raptors. While it’s doubtful that another 146 point explosion will take place, the Hawks clearly have what it takes to put Toronto in their place, and pad their road record in the process. But first things first. Let’s take a look at the Bulls.

HAWKS VS BULLS

What You Might Remember

Atlanta swept the season series with Chicago last year, 3-0. Only one of those wins was by double figures, and each time, the Hawks struggled when it came to containing Ben Gordon. Derrick Rose was a problem as …

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Hawks and Mavs, bad things in common

A tale of two scorned teams, a phrase I used yesterday in describing the Hawks and the Mavericks, is what sticks in my mind.

Both teams are loaded. Both teams have talent, depth, and versatility. Both teams are crazily inconsistent. STILL. Why? No doubt we could debate this all day (and many heated side arguments would inevitably spawn from the original topic, as always). We’ll probably do it anyway, but for now the question is which team will rebound? The Hawks just came off of a disappointing loss to the inferior-but-dangerous New York Knicks, a game in which defensive catalyst Josh Smith got himself ejected in the second quarter. The Mavericks are coming off of a loss to Western Conference doormat, Memphis. Dallas has been missing guard/forward Josh Howard, who wasn’t exactly playing thrilling basketball when he was healthy. The advantage is that Dallas is playing at home, but truthfully it may actually just come down to who wants it more tonight. Will both teams get …

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Highlight Factory hospitality

On the heels of a disappointing loss in Detroit, the Atlanta Hawks return home to play the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night, with the New York Knicks due in town on Friday. What’s the proper reaction to losing on the road to a team you should have beaten? Why, you go home and take it out on the next team! Since the Hawks have yet to play the Raptors this season, we’ll go through the usual motions, while the Knicks will get less of a mention.

HAWKS VS RAPTORS

What you might remember

Game 4 of the 2008-2009 season was the fateful game in which Josh Smith incurred that high ankle sprain, which kept him out twelve games, and helped derail a good start for the Hawks. Yet, the Hawks won that game, and two more of the four games in which they played Toronto. I’ll tell you what Toronto remembers (besides losing three of four to the Hawks): Mike Bibby. Why? Well, Bibby averaged over 20 points against the Raptors in the first three meetings. In the fourth one, he managed a “paltry” 13 …

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