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 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. On the other hand, the Hawks remember Chris Bosh quite well. Bosh is a 20 and 10 waiting to happen on most nights, and it hasn’t been much different against the Hawks. At any rate, both teams come into this game having lost in their last contest. For the Hawks, it was a loss to a lesser team, right after beating a team on the road. For the Raptors, it’s the opportunity to break a four game losing streak and beat a quality opponent, something they have done arguably only once this season (against Miami, November 20th).

Both teams will presenting somewhat new looks than they did last year, though Toronto has made more significant changes. But who will show up hungrier?

These Guys Might Be Trouble

Let’s see if I can get this without accidentally naming people who are on the IR….

Toronto lacks seriously in the categories of defense and toughness. Losing trade acquisition Reggie Evans to injury only made that worse. What they DO have in abundance however, is tall guys that can shoot.

Hedo Turkoglu has been less impressive in Toronto than he was in Orlando, but that tells you how important fit is, and how long chemistry can take to form properly. Nevertheless, Turkoglu can handle the ball and facilitate any time it’s needed. In addition, he can shoot the long ball. Tall players who have long distance range are always a problem for the Hawks. Turkoglu is no exception. If the Hawks let him get hot or simply give him too many open looks, he is going to hurt them.

Andrea Bargnani is no stranger to the arc himself, and like Turkoglu, he’s shooting better than 40% from deep. The 7-foot pivot man prefers to do more of his damage from the outside than the inside, but he can make a couple of moves towards the basket. He’s averaging over 17 points a game, and shoots a healthy 48% from the field, despite all of those 3-pointers. Never to be confused with a “true” post player (particularly with a middling 6.4 rpg), Bargnani does get a tad more than a block a game, and is automatic at the free throw line.

Finally, there is Bosh, who appears to have worked on his body this offseason. Bosh looks stronger than I’ve ever seen him. As it stands right now, he is leading the league in double-doubles. You can never ignore a guy who brings 25 and 12 to the table, and despite all the losing, the Raptor forward is playing as well (if not better) than anybody who belongs to the heralded free agent class of 2010. If Bosh starts strong and his teammates begin to play well off of him, the Hawks could be in for a long night.

Darkhorse

There’s always one guy that you forget about. It’s that one guy who either comes in and has a really big game against you, or simply just makes enough of the right plays, at the right times, to throw you off your gameplan. That guy, in THIS contest, could be Marco Belinelli. He’s not another 6′10 or taller shooter, but he IS another guy who is doing better than 40% from 3-point range. He’s a backup that plays just shy of 20 minutes per game, and yet another guy who can get hot from deep.

 

HAWKS VS KNICKS

Last Time Out…

Al Horford and Josh Smith pounded the Knicks for a combined 47 points and 21 rebounds enroute to a 13-point victory in Madison Square Garden. Nate Robinson and Darko Milicic were out with injury, and Jeff Teague had the same amount of playing time as New York rookie Jordan Hill (1:34). Meanwhile Toney Douglas made us look silly, and Al Harrington showed out like it was his birthday. Long story short, the game was closer than the score stated, and closer than it should have been.

What about this time?

Should the Hawks pound the ball inside against the Knicks like they did before? Will the Knicks make a game of it, or will the Hawks beat them like the inferior team that they are? Who are the key guys in this game for both teams? Is Toney Douglas for real, and what about lottery pick Jordan Hill? Can Jeff Teague get some quality minutes in this contest?

See ya around 7 p.m. tomorrow evening, if you’re not at the game with a laptop!

98 comments Add your comment

MyView

December 2nd, 2009
12:06 am

I hope they are refocused like they are saying. Just watching the last few games, its obvious the focus has not been there for 48mins. Get it back on track and lets keep the early momentum that we have established. Everybody has bad losses. The T-wolves won in Denver. Suns got blasted by the Knicks. Stuff happens.

MyView

December 2nd, 2009
12:08 am

Although I don’t understand the lovefest, I’ll say it. First!!!

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
12:29 am

MyView ,

You’re right. Stuff DOES happen. The good news is that we haven’t endured any losing streaks of any particular length….yet. I’d rather us not, but then again, that’s part of the learning process. I’d like to think we’ve gotten past that part, but it remains to be seen.

Noel

December 2nd, 2009
2:38 am

Our atlanta hawks can beat this 2 teams easily as long as Woody will give the bench more minutes especially jeff teague..and please dont let Joe Johnson take those fade away jumper when he’s struggling, I’m a JJ fan but i cant take it watchin him making poor decision.Use the pick and roll a lot more with Mike Bibby and Horford or J-Smoove because they are lethal with that play.Minimize isolation plays and move the ball around..I’m tellin you Woody our bench can win this games alone.We have a better bench now why not maximize that opportunity.

BA

December 2nd, 2009
3:47 am

The Knicks went the hell off on the Suns tonight…don’t think that Harrington won’t come in here and drill a bunch of threes…Toronto’s much improved but I’m more worried about the Knicks being another trap game.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:40 am

Joe Johnson is shooting roughly 35% in the last 5 games or so. He’s due for a breakout game sometime…or so we hope.

Hawk n the Ham

December 2nd, 2009
10:42 am

Hawk n the Ham is making the drive from the ‘Ham to ATL for tonight’s game. I can’t wait, 1st game of the year for me at the highlight factory.

Tonight is going to be a big night for J Smoove. He has to control Bosh, because if you have to 2-team him you’ve got those big shooters waiting on the wings for the dump out. Like you said Ray, big shooters.

Sautee

December 2nd, 2009
10:50 am

Ray,

Good job. Nice article.

I’m sorry to miss seeing Josh / Bosh (I’ll be at the Tech / Sienna game).

Both guys playing as well as they ever have, and will be head to head most of the time. Let’s see how well Josh rebounds.

And if Joe DOESN’T have a breakout, we’ll need at least two other players to step up.

Jay

December 2nd, 2009
11:01 am

Since Toronto and New York are perimeter-oriented teams, Coach Woodson’s offensive game plan should call for heavy doses Al Horford and Josh Smith in the paint against them.

Underdog teams overachieving to beat a heavily favored oppponent happens–like the Giants in the Super Bowl against the 18-0 Patriots–provides the drama that makes sports so compelling. So an undermanned Detroit team beat the Hawks on Sunday. So what–it isn’t a big deal.

Quick random thoughts:

Condolences to Josh Childress on the loss of his father!

This team misses the energy and intangibles Childress brings to the court much more than GM Sund realizes.

Joe Johnson wouldn’t be the first athlete to struggle when trying to prove he deserves a major/max contract when he becomes a free agent.

Marvin Williams isn’t the first athlete to struggle when trying to prove he is worthy of the major contract signed before the start of the season.

Did anyone notice how Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy called plays for back-up shooting guard J.J. Redick to come off double screens, as a way to get him scoring opportunities and/or the chance to make plays for open teammates, in the fourth quarter of the Thanksgiving night against the Hawks and wonder why the Hawks don’t run plays to maximize the scoring talents of all of their players? Isn’t that what separates the best coaches from the rest of the coaches?

Rebounding is the truest barometer of Hawks success. They win games when they win the rebounding battle and lose the games when they don’t.

The article on Yahoo Sports about Joe Johnson should scare Hawk fans. Whether he is a superstar may be up for debate but there is no question about the respect he receives from players and coaches around the league. Only the game’s best players ever face double teams and Johnson is routinely double teamed–even on the perimeter. Losing him would be a major blow to the Hawks’ future championship aspirations.

Astro Joe

December 2nd, 2009
11:06 am

DAMN, Tiger. DAMN.. Oh yeah, GO HAWKS!

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
11:16 am

Astro Joe,
I made the following post on the Fan Nest blog on yesterday just for you. Get well my friend.

Melvin

December 1st, 2009
8:27 pm
Look who top NBA.com for best offseason acquisition. I know somewhere Astro Joe is smiling….

http://www.nba.com/2009/news/features/shaun_powell/12/01/offseason.moves/index.html?ls=iref:nbahpt1

Astro Joe

December 2nd, 2009
11:34 am

Melvin, he had a very strong month. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his play-making abilities and willingness to defend (not to say he is a great defender but he is trying). I always susepcted that if Crawford were really good, that it would hurt Teague more than anyone else. At this point, Teague is a 4th string PG…. behind Bibby, JJ and Jamal. He came in as the 3rd string PG but ultimately fell behind as Jamal started to show his value as a PG.

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

December 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

Noel I agree with you man. Woody is always the x factor – the Piston’s reserves had the confidence to be the Hawks b/c the coach instilled that in them – IMO Woody’s ineffectiveness in utilizing the bench could come back to haunt us. again….

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

Jay ,

Nice post.

On a side note, I think you see the difference between Josh Childress and Marvin Williams. Childress knew what to do and how to affect the game, despite the fact that his number was rarely called. Marvin doesn’t, at least not yet. The confusion has to be based on what he thought he was supposed to be doing (Woody and JJ both said they need more scoring and aggressiveness out of him), versus what is actually happening (Al and Josh both getting more scoring opportunities, with Jamal also dominating the ball). And a lot gets swept under the rug when a team is consistently winning. Add the contract in, and it can be a confusing mess. The thing is, the contract has already been signed. That should be, and probably is, the least of his worries. How and where he fits NOW has to be the biggest one. I’ve seen him look both lost and frustrated out there this season.

Not something you want to see in a guy who you picked 2nd overall in the draft, and is entering his fifth season.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
11:54 am

Astro Joe ,

Good to see you back enough to hang out a bit. I think you had the Crawford/Teague thing nailed. It is what it is. As long as Bibby doesn’t get hurt or something like that, it may not be a problem. Then again, you never know.

Marcus

December 2nd, 2009
3:31 pm

Just to ditto the comments on todays articke, here and on Hoopinion : We saw some bad behaviours from previous years creep up vs. ORL and DET. Selfish ballahdnling and bad shot selection at critical moments. I was so pissed on our 3rd/4th quarter ball-hogging/jump-shooting performance vs. ORL, I put down my 3rd piece of pie in protest and followed it up with a curse word chaser.
If we want to shed the pretender label, I would expect those issues to be resolved ASAP.

newkid

December 2nd, 2009
3:43 pm

Melvin,
The ’sweet tea’ reference in the JCross article was tailor-made for Astro Joe.

Best blog news of the month: AJ’s back. Missed your style man. Welcome back!

Daniel

December 2nd, 2009
4:01 pm

Jay- nice post, I did not notice the news about Childress’ father, thanks for the update.

Marcus- nice post, funny.

Are these recent issues a blip or a return to bad habits? We shall see tonight!!

Jay

December 2nd, 2009
6:50 pm

Big Ray & Daniel,

Thanks for the kind words.

If winning is the best deodorant–in covering up a team’s faults–then losing must be the greatest magnifying glass because you find faults that you didn’t know existed.

Big Ray–you’re right. Marvin does seem confused on the court. He was a prolific scorer in High School and had the green light to score as a sixth man at UNC but is now the number six scoring option–behind the other starters and Jamal–in Atlanta. Here’s hoping the team’s leaders (JJ & Bibby) step up soon to bring clarity to his confusion.

niremetal

December 2nd, 2009
7:38 pm

And Josh is going to the bench now because….

Damn you, Woody. He was giving my fantasy team a much-needed boost!

niremetal

December 2nd, 2009
7:40 pm

You wanna know why +/- is a useless freaking stat? Because right now, Josh Smith is the only Hawk with a negative +/-.

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
8:16 pm

Where the heck have this offensive playbook been all season. Great 1st half by the Hawks…

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
8:45 pm

Just when things are going good, Joe goes to his 3-D-S syndrome. Dribble, Dribble, Dribble, Shoot…..

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:01 pm

Geez, what a beating!

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
9:03 pm

LMAO…. The Raptors goes on a 8-0 run and Nique says the Hawks are still in control…. Too Funny…

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:04 pm

Nice to see US beating the crap out of somebody on the boards for a change. Good thing, too, as we are allowing them to shoot about 53% from the field.

Noel

December 2nd, 2009
9:05 pm

I’m currently watching the game right now and.and our hawks has a 30 point lead entering the 4th quarter.and guess what?Mike Woodson use the bench with full confidence.This is what i’m talking about.I think Woody read my comments with this blog.hahaha

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:07 pm

Melvin ,

Bad habits are hard to kick. On the flip side, I am very pleased to see Joe get 11 assists, as his scoring game still isn’t looking too good. We need to find a way to get him out of that slump.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:09 pm

Josh Smith has grabbed up some fouls, but he sure took Bosh out of HIS game…

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:12 pm

A RandMo sighting!

Hey y’all….how’s Teague look to ya?

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:13 pm

Glad to see Marvin looking relevant tonight. Strange silence from College Park….. :lol:

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:15 pm

You know what? RandMo has just about always had some nice offensive moves. And then he blocks a shot? Wow!

Incognito

December 2nd, 2009
9:19 pm

Look at all this ball movement. Woodson must have stopped coaching or something.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:23 pm

Okay, it’s official.

RandMo is no longer the Hawks doormat bench player. That title now officially belongs to King Cheeseburger Collins. Now we know why dude doesn’t play.

How many minutes has he played? He’s already out there breating with his mouth wide open. Yeesh.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:28 pm

Damn. Kid has NO fear.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:29 pm

Then again, there’s not really anybody all that fearsome in the Raptors’ lineup, lol….

Still, I like Teague’s verve.

Big Ray

December 2nd, 2009
9:33 pm

Heh. Nine guys in double figures and one that almost made it (Mo Evans with 9). RandMo got 6, and Jason Collins showed us he’s the new John Edwards. You know, capable of 4 fouls in 6 minutes of work. What the hey, he got to play.

And we won big. Night, all. :)

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
9:49 pm

Woody should show this game tape before every game for the rest of the season…

niremetal

December 2nd, 2009
10:00 pm

What separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to coaching is whether a coach can get his players to do this on a consistent basis. I loved what I saw tonight, but watching games like this makes it all the more painful when the Hawks fall back to the jump shooting/lazy on the boards version that still shows up far too often.

But I totally agree – Woody should show this game tape before every game. More importantly, he should drill it into the team at practice that this is how they should always play. The test is going to be whether the Hawks show that they can sustain the unselfish and tenacious-on-the-boards style when the other team fights back.

JSS

December 2nd, 2009
10:15 pm

Now that is the Hawks team I’ve been waiting for!!! How are things back in Atlanta? Ray and Ando, good work… Peace, Jerrell

Jay

December 2nd, 2009
10:27 pm

Wow–the Hawks opened up a giant sized can of deodorant against the Raptors!

Quick random thoughts:
The Hawks get their season’s high in points when JJ gets his season’s high in assists. Coincidence? I think not.

It’s hard to believe that Woody believes there are games in which Jeff Teague shouldn’t get some PT. The kid is a player.

We’ll know the Hawks are really a championship contender when they play like this on the road against playoff caliber teams.

MannyT

December 2nd, 2009
11:04 pm

Even though the place was kid of empty, it was fun to see the Hawks have an easy night. However, I would not read too much into this. The Raptors were on the 2nd night of a back to back and they really mailed it in tonight. I have more anxiety about the Detroit loss than I have good feelings about beating Toronto. There is no reason to slip up before the Dallas game. Gotta get the Knicks on Friday.

I only show this tape after it has been spliced into the Pistons tape. Use it as a lesson of the team that wants it more is usually more successful in the NBA.

BWAF

doc

December 2nd, 2009
11:14 pm

sweet to see aj here and …. eat umm humble pie like the man he is. durn, did we have a few words about it if i remember. just fine to see the man back at the liars table.

HB Ando

December 2nd, 2009
11:58 pm

Wow, are the Hawks that good or the Raps that bad (see Raps PPG/against this season for hint)? Seems like not too long ago someone was talking about how these Hawks resembled the 1990-ish Denver Nuggets (oh, that was me). Seems like tonight the Raps were channeling those same Nugs, on the DEFENSIVE end!

Game like this tells us nothing (except the Raps are decidedly headed in the wrong direction).

Hopefully, a crazy exhibition game like this, for the Hawks, will get them both relaxed and re-focused. Don’t know which Knicks team we’ll see Friday: the one that has struggled all year or the one who jumped all over the Suns the other day. But stopping a mini-slide, no matter who it’s against, is what teams like the Hawks really need to do.

146!!!!!

Say WHAT?

Ed

December 3rd, 2009
3:27 am

Yes, JT0 is a player and Woody has no excuse whatsoever not to have played him or to not play him in the future. The Hawks can’t be expected to score 140+ points a night but they can be expected to play the way they did tonight. The more our inside guys get involved on the offensive end the better the Hawks are going to be. JJ doesn’t have to score as much when he distibutes the ball as he tonight and gets the whole team going.

Astro Joe

December 3rd, 2009
7:21 am

Did the Hawks just score again, at 7:20 this morning? Newkid, Ray & Doc… THANKS. Bacon Jason looks like he has been enjoying the Hardees drive-thru menu. Teague needs to use that floater more often, he seems to have many of his attempts at the rim sent back in the opposite direction. I also get the feeling that he and Crawford may not be the best pairing in the backcourt. Teague and Evans would likely be a better match.

doc

December 3rd, 2009
11:11 am

uh aj thanks for not bring yi into the conversation for those that date back that far. heh heh i know ray would have by now. quite the gentleman you are indeed!

uh goooo hawks!!!! flying high again. stop the iso crap boys and go get us a championship.

Melvin

December 3rd, 2009
11:23 am

Anytime you can score 140+ points and beat another professional team by 30 pts, I don’t know how you can down play that victory. It was a great win last night in my view. Go Hawks…

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2009
11:41 am

Melvin ,

I wonder if Orlando’s fans said the same thing to THEM after they torched us in that one particular game last season? Hey, what do I know? A 13-5 record isn’t telling us anything either, I suppose…

Astro Joe

December 3rd, 2009
11:43 am

doc, I would have bet my mortgage that Kirk Snyder was going to be a Kevin Martin-type scorer in the league. So I won’t be throwing any stones because my house is made of some pretty cheap galss. (Plus, any discussion on Yi must include the economic benefit of having him on the roster).