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 again. The Hawks match up fairly well with Boston, but the Celts are playing good enough to be at the top of the Eastern heap. And Orland always seems to have our number. In double digits, that is. So how to right the ship?

Backcourt Blues, Part II

Right now, Mike Bibby is playing as well or better than anybody else in the backcourt. That is to say, they are ALL struggling, most in more ways than one. Jamal is struggling, Joe is struggling, Mo doesn’t get much PT, and Teague is probably trading text messages with Acie Law, because he just can’t be learning much about the NBA game right now. Jamal seems to attack the best, Bibby handles and runs the offense the best, and Joe gets the most points. The problem is that Bibby is back to getting exposed on defense, Jamal is back to streak shooting, and Joe is back to having to take way too many shots to get his points. Really, none of them is playing solid, consistent defense. And like it or not…in the game of basketball, the defense starts on the perimeter. What to do? How do the Hawks get their guards back in the groove?

The Disease Is Spreading

Against New York, our frontcourt showed up big (well, except the local walking missing persons report known as “Marvin”). Now before we get all down on Marvin, let’s try and look at the situation from all sides (ha….we know better). Marvin is the fifth option on offense, and it would seem that most people, Woodson included, want to see him assume a role in which he contributes through defense and rebounding, along with the occasional bucket here and there. This SEEMS to sit well with Marvin, only he’s not filling that role consistently. Against Cleveland, Marvin showed up, giving Lebron James a run for his money in the first game. In the second game, well, we all know what happened there. Lebron is not a guy you can do that to, two games in a row. Against New York? Poof! Like it never happened. On the other hand, what about the nights that the Hawks are struggling badly on offense, and Marvin’s few shot attempts are rining true? What’s wrong with riding a different horse for a little while, you might actually compete in the race! Sometimes all it takes is a change of pace to rejuvenate things. Nobody said Marvin has to get the ball all night and score 30 points. Is it out of the realm of possibility that he score 10 or 15 and open things up for his teammates?

Al Horford is few things if not consistent and reliable. I like to call him “Mr. double double or dang close to it.” That’s what he does, normally. He makes good decisions with the ball, he fights for rebounds, he defends. The same could be said of Josh Smith,  when he’s got his head in the game (something that has happend a lot more often than not this year), only he is more dynamic than he is reliable. But the backcourt disease is a spreading virus. 

The complaint you hear all the time is how Josh and Al are not dominant post players. True, but they can score, and have shown the ability to do so. So what do you do when you have good-but-not-dominating post scorers? You get them involved early, and let the offense flow from the inside, out. When those guys can’t get into rhythm, it’s often realized too late. By then, what good does it do to try and get your low post guys involved? Or conversely, the frontcourt has gotten into a rhythm, only to be forsaken for the backcourt, who is ice cold. Either way, it destroys leads and wins. How do the Hawks keep finding themselves in these same predicaments, game after game? The disturbing thing is that it is present in both wins and losses, in good games and bad. What’s most consistent about the Hawks? Their method of failure.

The Solution

Do I have one? Heh, not likely. But somebody has to come up with one. The team has to come up with one. The team leaders, to be more specific. Some say that the team lacks leadership. The coaching staff has to come up with one. The head coach to be more specific. Some say the head coach is part of the problem, and emminently incapable of providing the solution. Well, the buck stops somewhere, and that somewhere is the General Manager. Identifying the problem doesn’t seem to be an issue. Just ask Mike Woodson, he can tell you what’s wrong after every single game. Just ask team captain Joe Johnson, he seems to always have that answer as well. Or anybody else you can stick a microphone in front of, though the aforementioned individuals tend to be the most…..candid, if I may….about it.

But the Hawks don’t need to be worried, interested, or consumed with what’s wrong. They need to be consumed with how to fix it. Fail to do it as a player, and it assuredly falls to the coach. Fail to do it as a coach, and it will assuredly fall to the general manager. That’s where the rubber will finally meet the road. We tell ourselves one more time, it’s just a 4 game losing streak. We hope that it doesn’t get worse, but never has the potential been better for that to happen, then now. And just think, we aren’t even experiencing any injuries! So how to right the ship before it wrecks? How to avoid that approaching iceberg (they, like trees and telephone poles, apparently have the ability to move into your path)? How to avoid what is merely hypothetical now, become reality later?

104 comments Add your comment

jj

January 4th, 2010
11:18 pm

Man,you said it all.It’s in RS’s hand and if he makes the wrong call he could join BK..It is really up to the Boyzs upstairs,THE OWNERS.Help,please,this TEAM has potential.

MAD-DONNA

January 4th, 2010
11:28 pm

Trint

January 4th, 2010
11:59 pm

Two things no one is talking about

1. Earlier in the season Woodson was playing 9 to 10 guys and everything was fine. All of a sudden the last few weeks he has gone back to a 7 man rotation and we see the results.

2. Is there an underlying reason Joe didnt sign the extension inthe offseason? I think so……..it called Jamal Crawford. I think Joe wanted to see just how he and Jamal would fit in together. And if you look carefully when the two are on the floor together there seems to be some ball hoggin on Joe’s part. Honestly I think Joe wanted to know if Jamal would be taking some of his shots, we as you can see Joe will go 11-30 without even trying to pass the ball unless there are 3 to 4 seconds left on the shot clock. I think this is something that we all should look more carefully at, there is some underlying tension with Joe even if he dont say so.

richbrave

January 5th, 2010
12:13 am

newkid:

read over don’t touch. I’m there re: Gil-CRIT

niremetal

January 5th, 2010
12:14 am

Two things no one is talking about

Clearly, you’re new here.

MannyT

January 5th, 2010
12:17 am

I know everything cannot be put into a simple bundle, but the Hawks need to act like a team with a good bench. I go back to my primary NBA model for what the Hawks should be–the Detroit Pistons…under Chuck Daly, not Larry Brown.

You have your star (J. Johnson/I. Thomas), but you go with the hot hand on offense and defend like your playing time depends on it. Ride the hot hand on offense, but don’t be afraid to give minutes to what works from game to game. Use the first half of the season to experiment as you learn how guys play together. Let’s at least learn something about our team when we get spanked by 20.

BWAF

Anthony

January 5th, 2010
12:19 am

Hawks season is over. They will be .500 before the end of the month and they got no chance at beating the top teams because they’re losers and have been losers since being in Atlanta.

jj

January 5th, 2010
1:25 am

MannyT,you make sense man and what we need is CD clone,and Woody ain’t it.This bronk is too big for him to ride.We need a jockey.I like Woody but I don’t see him changing.He always go back to his small rotation and ios Joe.”Doing the same thing and things don’t change for the better is crazzie”.

Harpie

January 5th, 2010
2:11 am

Woodson is an idiot. The Hawks need a coach!!!

Ed

January 5th, 2010
3:41 am

Good post Ray.
Jamal is struggling, Joe is struggling, Mo doesn’t get much PT, and Teague is probably trading text messages with Acie Law, because he just can’t be learning much about the NBA game right now

I about fell out over the Acie statement. But you were dead on with your post. Woody’s guiding the ship and rocky seas are ahead. He’s taken the Hawks as far as he can and hopefully next year we have new direction.

noel

January 5th, 2010
3:49 am

We need a coach..I’m sorry but you just ain’t the type of coach that will win the championship…Honestly…I’m glad with what you have done to this team but that’s all you got..these team has a lot of potential but you ain’t using it..The bench?you said that we are better this season but for God sake Jeff Tegue is putting his ass on the bench..Joe ain’t a superstar..he cant even guard nate..actually I’m blaming him with our lose to new york..If he didn’t gave nate a chance to get hot in the clutch moment we should have won that game…
Right now I find Joe a ball hug and we don’t need that kind of player here in ATL..Actually I’m from Philippines but I’m a Hawks fan…Get rid of Joe and sign lebron or dwayn wade in 2010..coz we got still jamal

Big Daddy

January 5th, 2010
5:00 am

We need our coach to assert himself. He has brought this team this far because of the material that he has been given to work with. One of the things I notice is that when other teams beat us, their money players make shots when they need to. Ours don’t. We can play team ball for 3 quarters and if we are behind, the isolation plays start. We win games when we move the ball. No team I have seen that has won games this year when they were down or in close game went to isolation. That was the time when they really started moving the ball around. We don’t. When we get down the ball either goes to Joe or Jamal. Speaking of Jamal, the way he shot the ball at the beginning of the year, I was wondering why GS let this guy go. Why did the other teams let him go when he has had 50 point games on 4 teams. Now I know. Check the box scores after the game and see how many shots he put up to get his points. Notice how many times he dribbles down the court and puts up a shot without one pass or anyone under the basket in case he misses. He is very streaky and when he is on he can put on a game like Nate did the other night. But when he is off, he is worse than Marvin.

When I saw a 60 minutes piece where the Tim Donaghy, the disgraced NBA Referee, was interview, he indicated that NBA Refs get irritated with some players constant griping and don’t give them calls but do give the fouls. He said they discuss it and their is a general feeling among them who the cry babies and gripers are. Now I am as big a Josh Smith fan as their is and the jersey I bought is a Josh Smith jersey, but somebody ought to play that segment of the interview for him before every game. Woody, please give Teague, more playing time. If Bibby goes down, you are going to be so sorry, I can’t put it into words. He has talent and I know you are reluctant to use him right now and I know he is not Derrick Rose, but he has skills and he has to develop them.

Finally, I don’t know what we can do to enable our guys to make shots when they count, like the other teams do. Part of it is coaching and part is the players skills. However, the coaches and the GM’s are going to take the heat if the players don’t perform. We have been tinkering with this group for some time now and we have some big contracts. Now is the time for them to perform and show the GM was right for bringing them in. Not later, not in a couple of weeks, because the momentum will be lost. This team is capable of 50+ wins. They need to show they can win against winning teams to validate they are for real.

Big Ray

January 5th, 2010
8:06 am

Based on the comments so far, it must be “Tee time”, lol….

As for the comments on Josh Smith and the refs, I’m afraid they are on target, and somebody needs to clue Josh in to that. Or it’s only going to get worse. What looked like a possible all-star direction is already being derailed.

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
8:10 am

Good blog Ray,

There are different ways to address our issues. Some of the points you hit on.

1) Start the game playing inside out, and that should open things up for JJ later on. Plus when Josh is involved early in the offense, I think he gives a better effort on D.

2) As Stinger mentioned, do not let JJ initiate the offense, because when he does, more often that not, he gets double teamed and gives up the ball late, or takes a tough shot. Try to get some easy shots for JJ.

3) Just like NFL teams are going to the 2 running backs system, use Teague as a change of pace guard, especially early in the game. I like Bibby in the fourth and down the stretch, but there is no reason why Teague can’t get 10-15 minutes early on.

4) Continue to push the tempo. Almost every possesion now, we take our time walking the ball up the court, only to give it to JJ, and stand around.

Ultimately, its on the coach and GM. But Sund is waiting until after the playoffs to make any decisions, so it is up to Woody to right this ship before 4 losses in a row turn into 7 out of 8.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
8:35 am

Want to right the ship? Start with defense. When we were blowing teams away, it was because we were getting a bunch of steals, rebounding like never before and contesting every shot. Fast breaks were coming off of the intense defense. Somewhere, these guys lost sight of the team defense concept… but it’s a long season.

I know one thing, my boss NEVER has to remind me how to do my job. Maybe when I was a rookie… but this team is far too experienced to need to be reminded to “show up” for a game in Miami.

If a teacher needs to be reminded “don’t forget to have the students read today” then that teacher isn’t worth their salary.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
9:01 am

Does the post office boss need to remind the mail carriers “don’t forget to pick up any mail left in the mailboxes when the flag is up”?

Does the amusement park boss need to remind the ride technician “don’t forget to make sure the riders are wearing the safety harnesses before you start the ride”.

Does the school bus drivers bass have to say each morning “make sure the little kids are seated before you pull off from a school bus stop”?

How manty times does your boss have to remind you to do a very basic thing that is critically important to your job?

Fundamentals

January 5th, 2010
9:35 am

Energy, Effort, Rebounding, Defense. We’re just not getting it.

I agree we need Bibby to run the offense in the 4th. We need plays that kick the ball to Joe for an open shot. Not WOODY BALL. Joe is an awesome player when we use his strengths. Instead we focus in on his weaknesses time and time again and wonder why he can’t do it. He’s not that kind of player. He’s a tremendous shooter when he can catch and shoot in rhythem. He can’t handle double and triple teams. Our offense stagnates when we go to isolations.

O’Brien hit it well. We need good ball movement on offense guided by a solid point guard. Bibby can do it, Teague can do it. One just won’t, one just hasn’t gotten a chance.

Use the pieces, give 100% & we’ll win like crazy again.

It all comes down to effort.

JR

January 5th, 2010
9:36 am

When will mgmt realize that coaching does matter? No offensive plan. No defensive plan. Just throwing the ball out there and depending on talented players to make super individual plays eventually catches up with you. All the weaknesses of the players (Bibby’s no-defense, Johnson’s ball hogging, Smith’s poor offensive decisions, Marvin’s bricks) are combining to make the Hawks very mediocre. During the early season play, teammates were actually passing to each other and helping on defense. Woodson does not seem able to recognize the change.

Fundamentals

January 5th, 2010
9:42 am

Oh he recognizes the change, he just doesn’t have the balls to correct the problems by trying something different. He’s too worried he won’t win without his best 6.5 men on the floor. He’s more worried about wins and his contract to coach. I’m not saying fire him or reward him. I just wish he’d assert himself, show them the plan and see where it takes them. I honestly think they could compete in the 2nd round. Maybe we’d lose, but there’s a small chance he might win. All he really needs to do is compete every night and he’ll get a fat contract. Sitting idle just punches his ticket out of town by the All Star break.

At least this slump will give our team some much needed rest during the All Star Break. Might also motivate them since they have all the potential, but blew their chance to make it.

thomas22

January 5th, 2010
9:55 am

Big Daddy- Good Post.

I think all the other teams have us figured out when we get the ball to JJ on top. They immediately throw a double team at him, but it takes him 8 secs to find another player and it seems he holds the ball FOREVER- no need for ISO 90% of the game. Coach W why not start him down low sometimes to throw the opponent off?

I hope the light comes on for Josh. Every dogone play he’s complaining to the refs-I’m diehard hawks fan but he’s even beginning to get on my nerves doing it- I cant imagine what a ref feels- enough already Josh, shut up and play the game, the calls will come!

One thing is for sure- the Hawks need to stop walking the ball up the court.

I still say Al is the most consistent and reliable player we have. ZaZa playes tough and goes up strong- the rest of the team may want to consider doing it when they drive inside.

Jamal is an asset, and was really hot in the beginning of the season, I believe JJ got a little “jealous” and that’s caused a little friction. Jamal could up his “D” a little bit though.

Jeff Teague should probably play a minimum of 4-5 minutes a quarter-the tempo seems to pick up when he’s in.

niremetal

January 5th, 2010
9:59 am

niremetal

January 5th, 2010
10:04 am

How manty times does your boss have to remind you to do a very basic thing that is critically important to your job?

If you’re an NBA coach for a team not led by Tim Duncan, pretty damned often. Do you not remember all the pounding that it took from Phil to get Kobe to buy into the triangle? Or how often Daly had to get on Rodman about keeping his head in the game? What is it exactly that you think most NBA coaches do, AJ, if not 1) come up with offensive systems and defensive schemes; and 2) get on players who are not executing those plans properly?

If it’s up to the players to improvise or otherwise create offensive and defensive schemes, then the Hawks are doomed to mediocrity. Because no team in the past 30 years has won a title without a coach who took care of both the tactics and strategy, thus leaving the players to worry only about execution.

Fundamentals

January 5th, 2010
10:16 am

I think he meant that there is a plan for execution, but you he shouldn’t have to ask folks to do there part every night. We lost because no one gave more than 25% effot the past 2 games.

Very unprofessional.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
12:07 pm

nire, I think that most coaches expect their players to be jazz musicians… here is the melody, here is the key, here is the beat… have at it. Fans, however, expect coaches to hand players a sheet of classical music, with very little room for interpretation. And thus, when the song sounds crappy, they blame the coach/composer. Woody does need to add more “sheet music” (in the form of late game half=-court sets) but the players are accountable for improving their basic musicianship. Sometimes, when the notes sound flat or they miss a beat, it’s on the players not the composer/conductor.

Obviously, the collective (players and Woody) have all improved over this voyage… and the recent stretch is not exactly unexpected… surely we were going to lose at least 3 in a row eventually. But last night’s effort (or lack thereof) reminded me of those lethargic efforts that were too common place a few years ago. If I’m going through my work day in a half-hearted manner, I think that I own that problem, not my boss.

Big Ray

January 5th, 2010
12:10 pm

Very good comments, guys .

O’brien brings up some very good points/ideas, particularly #3, which doesn’t get talked about much.

Big Daddy and thomas22 , good comments and welcome to The Nest!

I’m not entirely sure that the viewpoints of Astro Joe and Niremetal are at odds, but both have valid points.

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
12:10 pm

Saw this on espn’s DailyDime.

“The efficient version of the Hawks’ offense featured the entirety of the rotation moving with and without the ball, working together in the pursuit of easy shots and taking advantage of transition opportunities.

The inefficient, lead-blowing version of the offense featured a willfully slow, exclusively half-court attack predicated on Joe Johnson, in isolation, trying to break down as many defenders as the opposition chose to throw at him before he took a contested shot or found, late in the shot clock, a teammate who was then forced to take a (hurried) jump shot of his own.

In Monday night’s 92-75 blowout defeat in Miami, the Hawks passed on building an early lead (their largest was 2-0) in order to put the inefficient version of the offense on display for the entire 48 minutes in all its stagnant, jump-shooting glory. Forty-one of Atlanta’s 71 field goal attempts were jump shots”.

How come every beat writer, blogger and columnist can see exactly what the problem is, but yet Woody and the Hawks do it over and over again?

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
12:24 pm

An excerpt from John Hollinger of ESPN.com (requires Insider registration):

Since then, however, they’ve done everything in their power to reverse my opinion.

After the Utah game, the Hawks’ record was 19-6, with a strong point differential against a good schedule. At the time, they stood atop my Power Rankings, largely due to an unexpectedly potent offense that topped the league in offensive efficiency.

Atlanta has played eight games since then, and won only two of them — against Minnesota and Indiana. The last four games, all defeats, have proven particularly painful — Atlanta had consecutive second-half meltdowns against Cleveland, the latter coming with the aid of a clock malfunction, dropped a home game against a lesser New York team when Nate Robinson came out of cold storage to hang 41 on them, and suffered a one-sided rout by a Jermaine O’Neal-less Heat team in Miami on Monday night.

While the losing streak is unlikely to hit five — the Hawks’ next contest is at home against New Jersey on Wednesday — Atlanta is in danger of losing contact with the other Eastern powers in the playoff race. The defeats dropped the Hawks to 21-12, and with a Boston-Orlando-Boston stretch coming up over the weekend, they could easily be five games out of the third spot in the East by this time next week.

Although it’s possible one of the Cleveland losses could still end up in the win column — if the Hawks’ protest of the second Cleveland loss is upheld and the replay (likely April 2 in Cleveland) goes in their favor — the takeaway from the past eight games remains the same.

The common thread? Atlanta’s once-vaunted offense has hit a wall. Although the Hawks still rank second in the league in offensive efficiency (109.3), they haven’t been playing up to their usual level in the past eight games, with an efficiency mark of 105.8 — and only 101.9 if you subtract the two doormats (Minnesota and Indiana).

Subjectively, they’ve been worse than those numbers, because they’ve saved their worst for the times that matter most. A six-point overtime against Chicago. A nearly nine-minute drought in the fourth-quarter against Cleveland, followed by a 37-point second half the next night. A 19-point fourth quarter against a toothless Knicks defense. Monday night’s 75-point debacle in Miami was a rarity because it lasted all four quarters, but six of the past eight games have shown extended stretches when Atlanta’s offense went off the rails.

Look a little deeper, and there’s a surprising reason. The Hawks’ offense has benefited from an odd approach, as I mentioned a few weeks ago — they don’t shoot a particularly highly percentage, but they’re so good at rebounding and avoiding turnovers that they generate far more shot attempts per possession than most teams.

Lately, however, one of those planks has disintegrated: The Hawks stopped getting offensive rebounds. Atlanta’s offensive rebound rate in the past eight games is a measly 17.7 percent, barely half what they were averaging until that point. In two games against the Cavs, the Hawks grabbed only 12 offensive boards while Cleveland nabbed 87 defensive boards — with no second shots, perhaps the second-half offensive meltdowns were inevitable.

Even against lesser teams, it’s happened: Atlanta survived against lowly Indiana, for instance, while grabbing a measly three offensive boards. On other nights, against better teams — such as Monday, when they grabbed only seven of their 46 misses against Miami — they couldn’t slip by so easily.

Atlanta once stood third in the league in offensive rebound rate at 30.4 percent; thanks to the Hawks’ recent malaise, they’re a distant seventh at 28.1 percent. It’s unclear to me why the second shots vanished, and given the small sample of games there might not be any reason at all.

Nonetheless, it’s something they’ll have to remedy if they’re going to keep pace with the three top dogs in the East — a group they’ve already fallen dangerously behind.

With plenty of time left and a chance to quickly make up a few games this weekend, the Hawks can get back in the race for a top-two seed. But the lesson here is that the Hawks won’t rebound in the standings unless they rebound a few more of their own misses.

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
12:33 pm

AJ,

Thanks for the link. In my opinion, rebounding comes down to effort. Who wants it more.

But another factor that might be contributing to our lack of rebounding, is our bigs being out of position because we are shooting so many (bad) jump shots.

niremetal

January 5th, 2010
12:34 pm

Astro Joe,

Your analogy makes only a bit of sense. But if the Hawks are a jazz ensemble, it’s one with a director, someone who gets a group of musicians to play together. Because the job of a coach, if nothing else, is to do what he can to get the members of his team to play together.

As for your analogy with someone being out of key or an employee not doing his job…well, if the problem was isolated to one or two players, I’d agree. But it’s not. It was the whole damned team (even Crawford to a certain extent, since he played his usual zero D). And this wasn’t the first team we saw the team have these problems. If one saxophonist is out of tune, yeah ok – I’m likely going to blame that saxophonist. But if an entire ensemble of world-class musicians goes flat, messes up the tempo, and/or starts to improvise without listening to what the other musicians are doing, it becomes pretty damned hard to blame the individual musicians. That indicates a problem with the director. And

Do you really think a coach’s job to simply give them sheet music and say “have at it?” If so, then any idiot could do the job. But the guys who take teams to titles do more than hand out the playbook and then go enjoy a cigar.

thomas22

January 5th, 2010
12:34 pm

Thanks Big Ray-

I forgot one other thing… somebody PLEASE tell Josh Smith to stop taking that jump shot!

The Hawks can come back from the slump, but maybe they should look at the the first 12 games to see why they were winning.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
12:50 pm

nire, obviously, I’m being very simplistic. If you’re sax player sucks (or is too busy checking out the babe with the low-cut blouse), then the conductor shouldn’t call for the Coltrane number with the long solo. Woody must do a better job with late/close game play calling and he absolutely needs to treat Joe like an ensemble player and not a superstar (if he’s tired take his butt out, if he’s missing shots, take his butt out). But some of our ills fall at the ffet of these players. I agree with OB, rebounding is mostly about effort. I seriously doubt that we are suddenly running plays 47-52 that have Smith and Horford 20 feet from the basket when the shot goes up. And if Horford/Smith are ALWAYS expecting their backcourt to hoist up a shot, then WTF have they been paying attention to for the past few years?

Fundamentals

January 5th, 2010
12:55 pm

Josh’s shots and whining are definite signs of no accountability.

Offensive boards are 100% related to effort.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
1:01 pm

Top 5 things an Atlanta player can expect during a Hawks game:

1. Woody will fold his arms
2. Bibby will mess with his finger nails on the bench
3. Josh will complain to a ref
4. Joe will dribble too much and ignore his teammates
5. The guards will shoot awful jumpers and you MUST attack the rim to grab an offensive rebound

BONUS: ‘Nique will butcher the language (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Again, if those are not universal truths, then WTF have they been paying attention to as a Hawk?

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
1:08 pm

6. Marvin will wrap a towel around his head when he’s on the bench

dstdeelite

January 5th, 2010
1:16 pm

8. Woody will stare in disbelief with his mouth open.

dstdeelite

January 5th, 2010
1:16 pm

I guess I can’t count either….Should have been #7

chuckw/deadjournalist

January 5th, 2010
1:19 pm

This January Swoon is the same as last year … and the year before. It’s become an unwelcome trademark of Mike Woodson’s Hawks. They sprint out of the game and to the finish; but flail aimlessly in the middle third of the season.

If Woodson can correct this issue, then I have no qualms. Every team hits a rough spot in the season; but if he doesn’t he should not be retained.

What’s the saying, something like, “the definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting a different outcome.” To this point, that has defined Woodson’s crisis management/slump busting methodology.

As many – including myself – have pointed out, there is a roster flaw: the lack of a quick, defensively strong guard who can defend the point. That is Sund’s issue to address. But Woodson’s rotational management is also a big part of the problem.

In my mind, there are several potential solutions:

1) Insert Mo. Evans into the starting line-up for Marvin. Frankly, I wouldn’t imagine this would have a huge impact as they are different style players who accomplish the sames results. Both can put up 10-14 pts, hit 3’s when in rhythm and be occasionally active on defense. The point of the change would be for the surrounding players. Much as rearranging one’s living room doesn’t replacement the furniture, it does make you more alert to your surroundings. Maybe the same would hold true on the court.

2) Stop repeating these mistakes:

a) Do not, under any circumstances, shorten you bench. Cavs or Knicks, your top 10 guys need to play every night.

b) When Joe Johnson goes 1-6 from the floor; sit is butt on the bench don’t let him keep bringing the ball up the court and clank jumpers with a hand in his face with 18 second left on the shot clock.

c) Write “ISO-JOE” on a piece of paper. Bum a lighter off a security guard. Take it to the bathroom sink. Light that piece of paper and watch it burn in the sink. And the next time you think the solution to your team’s offensive whoa is ISO-JOE , think about that piece of paper and how ISO-JOE will burn you just like that paper burned.

d) Beg, plead, do what ever you have to do to get Rick Sund to sign or trade for a guard who can play defense and is quick as the dickens on or after January 10. Ask Darrel Armstrong if he’ll come out of retirement at age 93. Or realistically …

e) Sign Mario West to a 10-day contract. Insert him in as soon as the energy level dips. Maybe some of his energy will rub off on someone.

f) Call Jerry Stackhouse. See if he’d like a starting job in March once he gets into game shape. There’s an opening at the 3.

i) D-League, Europe, unsigned … somewhere there is a minimum-compensation point guard who will bust his ass on defense for four mins again. Bring it as many guys as it takes until someone forces you to keep them.

The Hawks are not a 60 win team. They are a 50 win team. I still think they will be good for 53 assuming they don’t completely fall apart.

And worst case, if, a week before the trade deadline the Hawks are two game above .500: Fire Woodson. Trade Joe Johnson and/or Marvin Williams. Let Larry Drew take a stab at getting the team in the playoffs and start the rebuilding process around Josh Smith and Al Horford.

At 21-12 the this sky isn’t falling. But it damn sure will be if something doesn’t change.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
1:32 pm

chuck, do the players need to do anything to improve their individual performance? Or is each and every opportunity related to the coach and GM? Wow, it must be nice to be a player and sit back and wait for someone else to improve your situation.

thomas22

January 5th, 2010
1:36 pm

chuckw/deadjournalist- you missed it- rebuild with Al Horford/Jamal- Not Josh-He’ll just complain the whole time that you didnt find and give him a golden headband or something else crazy. He whines like a litle child when they go through the terrible two’s…..

chuckw/deadjournalist

January 5th, 2010
1:44 pm

Astro Joe –

Absolutely the players are accountable for their performance. I’m not suggesting they aren’t or shouldn’t be. But at the end of the day, the coach and management must ensure they their employees perform at the best of the abilities with a game-plan that gives them the best ability to succeed.

If the players are not executing the game plan or not providing the effort needed, then something must be changed. That responsibility of change falls on the shoulders of the head coach (barring a personnel move which would obviously be in the hands of the GM).

Harpie

January 5th, 2010
2:16 pm

So, there’s a plan for the Hawks’ execution? Good -they need to be put out of their misery….

P.S. WOODSON SUCKS!

kirkinga

January 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

We saw a similar let down last year. Remember the winning streak to start the season and then the big build up and loss to the Celtics?

Remember after a string of losses late last year that lead many fans to predict that the Hawks would finish 3-17 because there didn’t appear to be any more “winnable games” on the schedule?

Well the Hawks proved the naysayers wrong last season, and they have been just about what most rational fans expected this season. I would suggest that those that are shocked that they lost to the Cavs, or on the road to Miami may have gotten caught up in Power Rankings and other hype.

Most here did not believe the Hawks to be superior to the Cavs, the Magic, or the Celtics. I think the Hawks can win a game or two against these teams, but they clearly are the 4th best team in the Conference. Oh, and firing Coach Woodson isn’t going to change the order of teams.

The Hawks are who most folks thought they were, an improved team, but not a top 3 team in the East as of yet. It’s been a great season (with the exception of 3-4 losses) and no fan should try to spin it any other way.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
2:44 pm

Kirk, AMEN (and pass the bread).

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
3:04 pm

Kirk,

You’re right. The Hawks are who we thought they were. However, after seeing them start 11-2, with wins at Boston and at Portland, #1 in the power rankings, expectations were raised (and I am guilty of that too). Since then, they have gone 10-10, which wouldnt be so bad if it was mostly due to injuries or losses to elite teams.

But Woody has always said that all he wants is to be in the top 4, which is where we are, and we have a 3 1/2 game lead over 5th place Miami (who plays Boston tomorrow). I think the Hawks will finish with the 4th best record. But if players and coaches would look in the mirror and step their game up, they have the potential to make it to the ECF.

The good thing is we still have 49 games left, so hopefully the Hawks will fix their issues before the playoffs, because if they dont, they might get swept in the second round again.

richbrave

January 5th, 2010
3:04 pm

“To be fair to Letterman, the Wizards have made themselves a punch line.”

Why does the public need to be fair to LETTERMAN. Is he indicted? He didn’t develop the material that became the punch-line. GIL did that all on his own, at least as far as we know.

Can anyone else now see what I meant when I posted here starting last spring about how bad the idea of caving to ARENAS’ demand was? He held POLLIN and the team hostage and won. GIL runs the show in this town, and all us fans are just along for the ride. Now what Ms. POLLIN? BTW how’s that transfer to TED going? Has the pricing been restructured?

“If at all possible you move Arenas. No matter what you take back you move him.

UNLESS, you can void his deal. That would be the perfect situation.”

A felony conviction will not happen. No harm resulted, ala PLAXICO BURRIS. So no bailout. Let’s give any GM who’s willing to listen our first this summer, NICK YOUNG, JAVALE McGEE, and ARENAS. We get back an older marginal player or two in return.

What a deal. I love a good time. I wouldn’t be GRUNFELD if I was paid twice his money. And it’s going to be his fault for bringing these players together, and shelling out those horrific contracts to ARENAS, STEVENSON, JAMISON and JAMES. POLLIN left everything up to ERNIE right?

ABE of course is out of it, and I’m sure IRENE can’t wait to sell either.

richbrave

January 5th, 2010
3:07 pm

richbrave

“do you seriously mean trade NY, JM and Gil and a first round pick for “an older marginal player or two in return”? if not i’m cool with you, but if so, that sounds crazy.”

Merely my way of saying GIL stays. After whatever STERN and/or the club does to him, he stays, and he plays. And the cancer he brings to the club stays with him

westurd

January 5th, 2010
3:10 pm

Anyone starting to think, “Trade Joe?”
The hawks can get much more value from him as a trade then they will when he leaves at the end of the year……………Hawks are good, no doubt, but it is hard to see us moving much further than 4th (Maybe 3rd)….

O'Brien

January 5th, 2010
3:15 pm

Speaking of Woody, I have always thought he set his sights too low. Last year, he wanted home court in the first round, which we got. But this year, he is still saying top 4. We were #4 last year, but we added Crawford, Teague, Collins, Joe Smith, and our young players are a year older. Shouldnt he be preaching winning the division and being #1 in the East?

Also, a few weeks ago, he said if the Hawks could go something like 8-6 over the next 14 games, then he would be happy. I dont know off the top of my head what our record was for those 14 games, but 8-6 could easily turn into 7-7 or 6-8.

Maybe I’m being too hard on Woody, but I just feel like he does not aim for the moon. He seems content just to be high in the sky

richbrave

January 5th, 2010
3:21 pm

westurd:

WIZ will take him. Plays ISO a lot, tries to drive to the basket picking up charges and TO’s. He’ll fit right in in D.C. Thinks he’s all that. Perfect. He doesn’t store empty guns in his locker does he?

You can have CARON to replace him, but you have to also pick up ARENAS and his contract. Ha,ha,ha,ha.

Astro Joe

January 5th, 2010
4:15 pm

OB, I would suggest that when he said 4th seed last year, NO ONE believed him. There was no significant addition (Flip and no Childress) and yet he stated that as an objective. I think that when you’re operating on the last year of a contract that your new boss didn’t give you, making bold promises that can be used against you doesn’t make too much sense. Especially when you compare what we added (Jamal & Joe Smith) to what the others added (names like Rasheed, Vince Carter, Shaq and an assortment of viable role players like Bass, Daniels, Parker and Barnes. Lastly, compare payrolls of the 4 top Eastern teams and there is a HUGE (Woody’s favorite word) difference. Woody said tow years ago, playoffs (after a 30-win season), said 4th seed after a 37-win team and now says 4th seed again. Maybe he just knows his team well (relative to the rest of the conference).

If we were playing down to the prediction, I would be concerned. But again, when comparing off-season additions and payroll, I think he was simply trying to be accurate. Mo Evans is the 3rd guy off our bench, I don’t think he cracks the top 10 on Boston, Orlando or Cleveland.