Archive for January, 2010

Hawks have to keep moving on

Having lost badly to the Magic yet again, it would be too easy for the Atlanta Hawks to hang their collective heads. But that’s the last thing they should do. Progress comes at different speeds for different teams. Being able to beat one good or great team is not a guarantee that you can beat another. Beating two doesn’t mean you can beat three, and so on, and so forth. Yet progress is progress, whether it comes in steps or leaps. The Hawks have made progress. Will it be enough progress? That depends on how the season ends, the goals that were set, and what is deemed acceptable by those who are involved with decision-making. For now, it would seem that the Hawks have made strides that are quite acceptable by most standards, what with 30 wins before February. Where were we this time last season? How had we fared on the road last season? How had we done against the top teams in the league? The answers all point to solid signs of progress.

 

It’s That Time Of Year

As the all-star …

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Horford’s hard work pays off

Undersized. Natural power forward. Not a true center.

Those are probably the three most common caveats you’ve heard when people describe Al Horford. I think Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said it best however, when he said that he didn’t know what Horford was (by definition of a specific position), other than a heck of a player, and a load to deal with in the paint. Doc is right, and it’s doubtful that any coach or opposing player would disagree. Horford is a pivot man. He is by necessity, because the Hawks need him to be. He is because he has the heart to be. He just plain is. Does it really matter what we call him, or what position he seems to fit the most? Here, in his third year, Horford has become an all-star. Is this a one-time thing, or should we expect to see many more selections?

Why Not Lee or Lopez?

Hard not to be a homer here, but I’ll give it a try. David Lee’s numbers are as close to 20 and 10 as you can manage without it being official. Brook Lopez is …

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Feelin’ good in Texas

Remember when the “Texas Triangle” was a source of consternation for us? Remember when we would talk about getting one “surprise win” out of the three contests on the road against Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas? Wait, wasn’t that just last season?

As it stands now, our Atlanta Hawks have to be feeling fairly good about Texas these days. While the visit to the Triangle didn’t come all at once this season, the Hawks are already good for two out of three, with a grind-it-out win in Dallas back on the 5th of December, and a more substantial and convincing win in Houston just two nights ago. Now all the Hawks have to do is defeat the San Antonio Spurs tonight, to make the vanquishing of the Triangle complete. Will they pull it off, or will we be singing “Two out of three ain’t bad….”? Either way, if you don’t think this is yet another sign of a team that is significantly better than it was last year, then consider the fact that the Hawks didn’t win a single one of these three …

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Rounding out January

Having gotten revenge against the Bobcats, the Hawks currently stand at 7-4 for the month of January. While this may be better than what some expected, or worse than others expected, it’s not over yet. The Hawks have four more games to go in finishing off the month, and all are against quality opponents. Three of these games are on the road, where they’ll face Houston and San Antonio on their homecourts, then return home to try and sweep the regular season against the Celtics, then finally traveling south to face their Boogeyman. We all know who the Hawks’ boogeyman (or should I say boogeyMEN) is, right?

The worst that can happen is a 4 game losing streak, leaving Atlanta with a 7-8 record in January. Best case scenario has them winning all 4 games and riding high into February with an 11-4 record for the month. Personally, I don’t really see either one happening, though I wouldn’t at all mind the Hawks proving me wrong. What the heck, let’s make predictions! Who thinks the …

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Underestimation

Sometimes teams do it to the Hawks. Sometimes the Hawks do it to other teams (see this afternoon’s game against the Thunder).

Maybe the Hawks do it to themselves.

Really, could it be that the Hawks underestimate themselves? Or maybe they just don’t take things seriously enough all the time. Now I know what you might be thinking, because I’d be thinking it too, if I wasn’t writing these words myself. Atlanta sits atop the southeastern conference division with Orlando, forty games into the season. That’s just one game shy of the true halfway point in the season. The Hawks are winners at home. They are winners on the road (anything above .500 is winning, no matter how you slice it). When is the last time they’ve been this good? For even the most patient fans, it probably has been too long. So, what am I complaining about? I’m not, actually. Just pontificating (and I use the term loosely) on what I think is one of the many steps a team has to take on its way to being the best.

The …

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Slowing the run and gun

The Phoenix Suns know what it’s like to have those ups and downs.

Beat the Lakers, lose to the Grizzlies. Blow out the Celtics, lose a shootout to the Pacers. Head coaches with vacant stares at post-game press conferences. With all of that, the Suns are 24-15, a record fairly close to that of the hawks, and good for fifth place in the West. Atlanta meanwhile, stands at fourth place in the East, at 25-13. And now, the two teams meet for the first time this season.

 

Tale of Two Teams

In regard to personnel, the Hawks and Suns have gone in different directions. Gone from Phoenix is Shaquille O’Neal, arriving was Channing Frye, making the Suns what they once were: smaller and faster, with more perimeter capability. Has it worked so far? A winning record would indicate that it has. And the Suns are back to doing what they’ve had the most success with in recent years: outscoring and out-assisting opponents. Phoenix didn’t make the playoffs last season. This season, they figure to …

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Minus Zero, Wizards challenge Hawks

Remember the preseason hype?

Gilbert Arenas was coming back to the hardwood. The Wizards were going to be so good. The Hawks were going to battle THEM for the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference this year, NOT the other way around. The Wizards were going to challenge, and possibly go further. But it was not to be. Of course, the national media wanted Agent Zero back so bad, they kept pumping it up. Agent Zero isn’t talking, and it’s a good thing, they said. Agent Zero this, Agent Zero that. But the wins just weren’t coming. Agent Zero was what it was always about, what it has always been about. After recent events that I’m sure everybody is now aware of, the Age of Agent Zero may have finally come to an end in Washington. It’s too soon to tell, really. But a new era may be dawning.

This team is determined to make things up to their fans, as evidenced by the seemingly heartfelt pre-game speech made by Washington forward Antawn Jamison a night or two ago. These guys want to …

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Quandary of evidence

The NBA season can be both strange and exciting. Dramatic and traumatic. Tragic and triumphant. Ok, enough with the commercial-ish adjectives and cliches, right? After all, NBA commercials capture enough of that. Hey wait, I have a commercial idea. How about we take those commercials from 2007-2008, showing the mighty Boston Celtics roaring forth like legendary green-clad warriors, as they stormed their way to the playoffs and beyond! Now splice that and show winged Hawks players swooping in and plucking them off of their feet like some great legion of vengeful, red-clothed Valkyries! 

….then cut to a scene where this legion of frequent fliers are undone and defeated by blue-cloaked Sorcerers that cast Magic stones at them…

How’s that? Wouldn’t it make a good NBA commercial? Or does it just describe, in part, the transition the Hawks seem to be in right now?

It’s said that the NBA is a game of matchups. Yeah, well there is apparently some truth to it. How else can you explain …

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Nets shredded, Celtics next

Nothing like a blowout in our favor to stave off the drama for a few seconds, eh?

Be honest. You know it was against the worst team in the league, but you’re still glad it was a blowout. Because anything less would be an indicator that the recent problems plaguing the Hawks had not gotten any better, and may have gotten worse. So a moment’s reprieve, and another win. Would it have felt better if it was a road win, rather than a home win? Maybe, maybe not. It wouldn’t have mattered to the New Jersey Nets, who are losing no matter where they play. But it might matter to the Hawks. Or, maybe they are just glad to get back to playing the way they should and winning. Of course, the true test of mettle awaits, and it comes in the form of the Boston Celtics. But more on that later. For now, let’s indulge in a diversion of sorts.

We’ve discussed (and will continue to do so) all the things that we see happening in games, and like the collection of broken records that we are, we keep …

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How to right the ship?

Thirteen games left in the month of January, and only two of them look anywhere near winnable, given the way the Hawks are playing now.

Intensity. Effort. A modicum of execution. Did they leave it all in Cleveland? What has happened to the Hawks? Okay, so I get it, it’s only four game losing streak. There are worse things. But if you’re a Hawk fan, you know what those worse things are, and you fear that they may be coming. In the distance, in between the deep, nerve-bending knell of a fateful bell, you hear the voice of some ancient and mythical Greek or Roman soothsayer wailing,  ”Beware the Ides of”…..January? Just what is going on here?

Make no mistake about it, things only get tougher from here on out. So how to stop this shipwreck before it really happens? Well, a win against Eastern Conference doormat New Jersey wouldn’t hurt a bit. It’s a start, but it’s not nearly enough. In fact, it’s probably not even a tuneup for what comes next. Boston. Then Orlando. Then Boston …

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