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 posting them. Sometimes we manage an artful “theme and variations”, but in the end it can get repetitive. Of course, such is our nature as fans.
How about a “why do you think?” blog? Instead of asking folk to judge or criticize, challenge them to think of why?
Why does Woody run the iso play in close/late games? Why does Josh whine to the refs? Why does Joe turn into a ball-hog at certain points in the game? I don’t know, maybe that’s just a silly game that I like to play… not always judging but trying to gain an understanding from the perspective of that player/coach. Of course, it starts with a base assumption… that no one intentionally wants to fail.
Very insightful, I think. It IS so much easier to judge and criticize. Every fan is a critic if he/she has an opinion at all. Attempting to gain understanding from a different perspective, now that’s a change of pace, and not a silly one. So let’s look at the three questions above. I’ll start off by giving some of my own guesses, but don’t be shy….add yours.
Why DOES Woody run ISO plays late in the game?
A coach is going to do what he is most comfortable with. If he is most comfortable with putting the ball in the hands of his most potent offensive players, that is what he’s going to do. It doesn’t matter if it works all the time, it has to be something the coach thinks has the best chance of being successful. Perhaps Woody feels that sharing the ball and running different plays is all well and fine for the bulk of the game, but if the chips are down…he wants the ball in the hands of the guy or guys he is most comfortable doing that with. Not all teams have more than one guy who is equally as dangerous as another. For instance, the Spurs have Duncan, Ginobilli, and Parker. Any one of the three spells trouble for the opposition. Do the Hawks have a trio of assassins? Mike Woodson may not think so. He’ll want the ball in Joe Johnson’s hands. Failing that, maybe it will go into Crawford’s hands, or maybe Bibby’s. But nine times out of ten, it will be Joe.
Why does Josh whine to the refs?
This one isn’t going to be easy. Or maybe it is. Personally, I don’t know what Josh is thinking, but I do know that he has to stop thinking it sometime soon. If not, it’s going to be a fairly long rest of the season. Josh Smith has worked on his game, and he has improved. On top of that, he has matured and learned to make better decisions with the ball. Does Josh feel that he’s good enough to be entitled to some calls? It’s possible that he sees how the officials tend to treat Joe Johnson, and doesn’t want the same thing happening to him. I don’t think Josh realizes how he sounds or how he looks to the refs. He wants respect, but he doesn’t know how to get it from the officials. And it seems that nobody is lending a hand in this matter, though on occasion his teammates have realized that when he lets fouls and foul calls take him out of his game, the team suffers from it. On top of all of that, aggression is Josh’s game. Emotion is Josh’s game. Both have to be channeled in such a way as to benefit the individual and the team as a whole. Perhaps this is just another step in the maturity and growth of Josh Smith. He has improved on fundamentals and decisions. But he also has to learn other nuances of the game, such as player-to-referee “politicking.”
Why does Joe turn into a ball-hog at certain points in the game?
This can be a controversial subject. You have to ask yourself, is Joe really a ball hog? Is it ball-hogging when he takes the most shots in a game, or throughout a period of the game? Maybe that’s part of the normal game plan. As versatile as this team is, Joe Johnson is still the leading scorer and the best player on the team. Right? Heh heh heh. There will be some argument as to that particular statement alone….some will say that Joe is no longer the best player on the team. Others will say he is no longer the best player “head and shoulders above the rest.” But back to the original question: why does he do it? Again, this is very likely a staple of the normal routine. Give the ball to your leading/best scorer. What’s abnormal about that? The ensuing question is probably this: WHEN should Joe dominate the ball during a game? And this goes back to the first question. A coach is going to implement what he feels most comfortable with. Joe “hogging” the ball may be that comfort zone. Is it the best formula for success? Probably, if you have the right caliber of player, and use this tactic at the right time. Does this apply to the Hawks? Hmmmmm.
On the other side of the coin, what about Joe? Maybe Joe dominates the ball because he feels most responsible for providing offense. After all, that’s one of the biggest reasons he was brought here. Maybe he feels that if the ball is in his hands, he can get done what needs to be done, whether it’s scoring or making the play. Knowing when to do it and when NOT to do it is no cake walk. Look how long it took Kobe to figure it out. Lebron James still may not have the concept down pat.
Now it’s your turn. Why do YOU think those things happen? Don’t be shy. Blast away!
HAWKS VS CELTICS
Boston just survived an overtime thriller against the Heat in Miami, and will be flying in to meet the Hawks in the Highlight Factory. After that is another flight to Toronto, where they’ll face the Raptors, before flying back home and playing the Hawks again. No doubt the Celtics plan on making this a 3-0 road trip, but the Hawks will have other plans.
Fresh off a demoralizing loss to the Heat in Miami, the Hawks mopped the floor with the New Jersey Nets and got back to doing mostly what tends to work best for them: playing defense, outrebounding the other team, and running the break when the opportunity presents itself. The starters got to sit down for a good chunk of the second half (mostly the 4th quarter) and the bench got some burn. Now both teams take Thursday to prepare for each other.
In the last game…
The Hawks beat Boston for the first time since game 6 of the first round in the ‘07-’08 Eastern Conference playoffs. Even better, they did it in Boston. How did the Hawks manage this? Well, with Boston shooting a little bit better percentage, Atlanta had to gain advantage elsewhere. And they did just that by hammering the Celtics on the boards with a 47-29 advantage, including 16 offensive rebounds. The loss put the Celtics in a moment of doubt, where they lost games to Indiana and Orlando (sandwiched around a win against Golden State) before they embarked on an 11 game winning streak and rose back to the top of the Eastern Conference heap.
The Celtics will be looking for some payback. The best way to get revenge against a team who has beaten you on your own court? Beat them on theirs.
Keys to The Game
The Celtics are absolutely bent on being the best defensive team in the NBA. Few things demoralize a defense more than a three point play, but one of them is an offensive rebound. The Hawks will have to pound the Celtics on the boards as much as they can, and on the offensive end especially. Atlanta will want to limit fast break opportunities for Boston and get second chances when bad shots are taken offensive rebounds will do that. Defensively, it should be a titanic struggle. Both teams are/can be good at contesting shots, denying passing lanes, and creating loose ball situations. The Celtics are far more consistent where this is concerned so again….rebounding will be key.
Jamal Crawford is a weapon to be used against the best of teams. In the last contest, he came off the bench to score 18 points, which was just 6 points shy of what the entire Boston bench managed to muster. Crawford provides what he was brought here to provide: Joe Johnson level scoring, when Joe Johnson is not in the game….at a quicker pace and in less time, at that.
Rajon Rondo is the new Celtics Linchpin. Oh, Garnett is the heart of the defense and Paul Pierce is the team leader. But this year, Rondo seems more and more to be the one who puts the Celtics over the top when all else is equal. Don’t be fooled by his mere 13.2 points per game. Rondo can and will explode for 20+ points at any given time. More importantly, he’s shooting over 52% from the field. Oh, and he’s averaging just a hair under 10 assists per game, and 4 rebounds per game. This from a point guard?
The Flip Side
Okay, we all know that Josh and Al are big keys to this game. Who is the X-factor in this matchup, though? Who puts Atlanta over the top. Crawford? Or somebody else?
Hate is Good
In this case, it really is. No really, just hear me out: The Hawks hate to lose to the Celtics. And I think that’s why they play them so hard. I don’t know whether it was because THIS Hawks team cut their playoff teeth with the Celtics or if it was the fact that after taking them 7 games in the first round of the playoffs, nobody even remotely involved with the Celtics (except Doc Rivers) would give the Hawks the credit or respect for being anything remotely close to a rival. While Boston is clearly “Big Three” and Atlanta is still “best of the rest”, it seems that the Hawks come ready to do battle at the very mention of the Green Machine. Maybe if the Hawks hated to lose to other teams as much as they seem to hate losing to the Celtics, they’d win even more games. I don’t know. What do you think?