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 break nears, the yearly trade rumors start heating up. Some names are popular every season. Some are new to the list. And then there are those that only the true insiders know about. Will the Hawks make a move? Should they? Off the top of my head, I can think of only two reasons or motivators for the Hawks making a trade by the deadline. But hey, if you can think of different reasons (or better ones), then by all means, tell us all! Okay, first….I don’t know what the front office plans to do about the Joe Johnson situation, and I have even less idea what Joe Johnson is thinking. Players will tell you a million times that they are not thinking about the future, they’re just concentrating on playing right now. In some cases, I believe it. In others, I don’t. Let’s take Lebron James, for example. He wants to win a championship. It can actually happen in Cleveland. So if he says he isn’t worried about what happens this summer, I take it with a grain of salt, while also recognizes the kernel of truth there. Cleveland once again leads the East, and they’ve already made a statement or two against last year’s NBA Finals participants by beating the Lakers twice, and the Magic once. But then there’s Chris Bosh. What does he truly have to look forward to in Toronto? The playoffs? Yeah, probably. A first round win? Not likely, and second round win even less so. So maybe he has more to look forward to in the future than he does in the present, eh? Without a gutsy and genius move via trade of free agency, where is Toronto going in the next few years? Not too far, would be my guess. Well, one can speculate anway.

So it is with Joe Johnson. How far does he expect the Hawks to get this season? Mike Woodson talks about this team having a chance to do something special this season, but what would that be exactly? Winning the Eastern crown? An NBA championship? Furthermore, what are Joe’s expectations for the following year if he were to stay in Atlanta? What Joe wants most, is the mystery. Does he want a change of scenery or does he want to be the #2 guy or a co-captain, neither of which is his role here with the Hawks? Should the Hawks even entertain the idea of moving him before the trade deadline, what with the success this team is enjoying, with an eye toward the inevitability of the future? Or should that be dealt with in the offseason? Not only is that a very shaky, hair trigger move to make, but one would have to KNOW that Joe wasn’t coming back, and that whatever he was traded for would have to be the best Atlanta could get out of what was going to happen anyway. While it’s likely to be labeled as something that is way too early to speculate on, the possibility of this being a discussion has to exist in at least one mind, however slim and small the thought.

Second, do the Hawks think they are set with their current roster? By asking that question, one has to infer that the Hawks either do or don’t think they have what it takes to make a run at the Eastern Conference Finals. And they have to be prepared for all scenarios, come playoff time. They can’t bank on facing the Cavs, but not the Magic. Or the Celtics, but not the Cavs. They can’t bank on anything, really. Then again, are they even expecting to challenge for that position? I’m sure that Woodson and the team would say yes. What about management? In the meantime, I think most parties involved with the team feel that they currently have what it takes to win more games than they did last season, and very possibly secure a higher playoff seeding.

In conclusion, neither of the two motivators I mentioned are a sure thing when it comes to trade talks. Personally, I think the second one (a roster move to make the team a bit better/more capable) is more likely than the first (deal with the Joe Johnson situation now, rather than later). And yet, neither may make that much sense, depending on what is offered or can be had, in the grand scheme of things. One last thought on that before you tee off on the subject. Any trades made that are significant ones (as in not minor tweaks here and there) involve chemistry issues. It takes a strong leadership presence from both the sideline and on the court to absorb such a change, and effect a positive/successful result. Do the Hawks have what it takes to deal with such a transaction? And while you type madly on your keyboards in response, let’s think about WHO should be traded or traded for, should such a move become a solid thought. A free prize to be named later for the person who guesses what Rod from College Park thinks, before he says it. Just kidding. About the prize, I mean. We love ya, Rod.

Revenge of the Risen

With all else that’s going on, the Hawks have to move on, as the title of this blog suggests. As good as they have become (and having swept the Boston Celtics for the season) you can say that the Hawks have risen, rather than fallen (despite losing to Orlando again). But they’ve still got work to do. That means taking care of business that should have been taken care of before. You know, like beating the teams that aren’t as good as you are. The Hawks have beaten inferior teams more often than not this season, but they’ve flubbed a couple of opportunites to beat the better ones of that segment. Such as it is, they will have a chance to rectify that in two out of their next three games. And this time, the shoe will be on the other foot, sort of. That’s right, revenge time against the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, two athletic teams that like to hustle and play hard. Last time, Atlanta got a nasty little surprise in Chicago. The rematch takes place in Atlanta. Before, the Hawks let the Thunder come into their house and slap them. They now get the opportunity to return the favor in Oklahoma City, in Tuesday’s matchup.

In both cases, the Hawks face teams that are younger and like to run as much as the Hawks wish they did. In both cases, they can’t fall asleep on the boards, on offense, or on defense. In both cases, the Hawks have advantages that they should be able to exploit. These used to be easy victories for good teams. Now they are hard fought wins. If the Hawks feel like they are now as good as or better than the Celtics, then they better prove it by beating the good-but-not-as-good teams. Getting swept by a team that has grown closer to you over the years is one thing. Getting beaten by a team that’s fresh on the winning scene? Now that’s something else entirely.

They Key

Call me crazy, or call me wrong, but I’m going to put this one on two guys: Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams. Jamal has been playing great for the Hawks, especially in the last couple games. But the first confrontation with the Thunder ended in a 3 point loss, in which Jamal came off the bench and shot a dismal 4 for 14 from the field. With the backcourt taking most of the shots again (go figure) and Joe Johnson putting in a 10 for 23 performance (which resulted, ironically, in 23 points), we really needed Jamal to step up his shooting. Not only did he not do this, he went an uncharacteristic 2 of 5 from the line. But he wasn’t the only sore thumb.

Marvin Williams has got to quit these disappearing acts. While it certainly can be argued that the fifth year forward has struggled in finding his role or niche, there are certain games where he has been such a non-factor for the bulk of the game. Williams collected 7 points and 2 rebounds against Oklahoma City. And while it’s arguable that he only got 21 minutes of work, it’s also arguable that his lack of effect on either end of the court is the very reason for his playing time. It wasn’t foul trouble. So what was it? Ineffectiveness. Of course, this is not meant to be taken in the usual exaggerated fashion. It’s not that Marvin has to score 18 + points, or grab 10+ rebounds (though it wouldn’t hurt). But he does have to find ways to contribute in games like this. When you are in the starting lineup, and you get limited to 21 minutes, and there is no injury or foul trouble to explain it…you’re either doing something wrong, or NOT doing something right. There was a reason why Joe played 45 minutes and Josh 43 that evening. And for once, I don’t think you can pin it all on Mr. Woodson. Better/more effective games for Crawford and Williams should help the Hawks to a decent victory in Oklahoma City, provided all else is equal, as it mostly was last time.

146 comments Add your comment

SWAT Native

January 31st, 2010
8:07 pm

SWAT Native

January 31st, 2010
8:10 pm

Now that that’s out of the way, I think that the Orlando game exposes that the Hawks need another quality big man, especially one that has a low post scoring game. The problem is that pretty much every other team is looking for the same thing, so good luck finding it.

Sautee

January 31st, 2010
8:12 pm

Nice piece, Ray.

I think the Hawks need to make a move at point guard. Bibby’s minutes are declining, and Teague doesn’t have Woody’s trust, so get somebody who can play some d and not turn it over. Obviously that would have to be a veteran so Woody would play him. And an expiring contract would be nice. Maybe give up a second round pick?

Astro Joe

January 31st, 2010
9:56 pm

Good stuff, Ray.

Sautee, I agree. The guy I like is Keyon Dooling. No, he is not a pure PG but he is a good shooter and defender. He plays bigger than his 6′3″ size because of his long arms. A few seasons ago, he had a chance to start at PG for 2-3 games and played really, really well. And, he is available (but is expensive).

Earl Watson could be available from Indy (he’d be perfect for both us and the Celtics, who also need a back-up PG). Mo and a 2nd rounder may be necessary to make that trade work (since Mo has an option for another year). After losing Mo, we’d look for a vet SF to add when players are bought out (Devean George or Trenton Hassell come to mind). Watson is a hard-nose defender and streaky shooter and seems like Woody’s kind of player.

The absolute cheapest way to go is to see if they can find Antonio Daniels. He was always an above average defender and very, very good with ball security. A super-streaky shooter who could put up a bunch of air-balls but his job would be to press the ball and not turn it over for about 8-10 minutes a game. And I think he could definitely do that if he hasn’t been feasting on Moon Pies for the past 6 months.

thomas22

January 31st, 2010
10:00 pm

Agree about Bibby- of late he’s playing like his better days are behind him,. Coach W has to be careful not to break the spirit of Teague-he treats him like he’s a still a college player the majority of the time-when Teague puts up his jumper he releases it without confidence….

It’s not a stretch to see this team in the conference finals and they could win it if they are really,really focused. Joe will stay one more year because of that success….

Marvin really needs to find a way to step up his game.

In my opinion, Joe going ISO is not probably the best thing- it takes him too long to finally get a shot/pass off.

I’m with this team during good and bad times- and will support them to the end.

Astro Joe

January 31st, 2010
10:02 pm

Again, Dooling would be MY choice. He’s an active defender, can bury the 3-ball and is from Atlanta (so he may be motivated to show and prove in front of friends and family). Unfortunately, I don’t think that we have the right assets to obtain him from NJ.

Astro Joe

January 31st, 2010
10:10 pm

One more thing, if I were Rick Sund, I’d tell Woody that he MUST play Teague consistently for the remainder of the games prior to the All-Star break (6 games). I’d say at least 12 minutes. Sund and Woody need to determine if Teague can show that he can be a contributor or if they need to consider a vet PG before the trade deadline. Teague doesn’t need to be the 2nd coming of Kevin Johnson, just show that he can “do enough” in 10-12 minutes each game for the team. And the 6 games do not feature a truly “elite” opponent so it seems like a good time to evaluate him.

Mink

January 31st, 2010
11:17 pm

I would love to get in on the sweepstakes for a certain point guard in New Jersey. You know Devin Harris would love to be on a team with a shot to win the easter conference. We can run the floor as it is, but with his speed, imagine what we could do with Harris in the mix.

We obviously have a need for a big guy to bang with Howard/Shaq/Gasol/Bynum/etc. before we can even think about a title. Not sure anyone big and good enough is really available though. I was really disappointed we didn’t go after Gortat or Birdman in the offseason. They would’ve been a huge upgrade to Zaza, as much as I love watching him.

i_am_soulstar

January 31st, 2010
11:18 pm

Teague could be a force in this league, but its important that he be developed as Bibby ages.. All that promise and no development equals wasted opportunity!!! And someone tell me if I’m walking down the wrong path, but WHY ARE WE NOT PLACING JASON COLLINS AGAINST DWIGHT HOWARD????!!!!! He did pretty well AGAINST SHAQ although that game resulted in a loss for the hawks! I felt like Woody forgets he has a powerful and humongous 7 foot center at his disposal

Mink

January 31st, 2010
11:18 pm

Eastern Conference**

Mink

January 31st, 2010
11:21 pm

Soulstar, Collins did play against Howard in the FIRST quarter last night. He drew three, or maybe even four fouls in just a few minutes playing time. I agree with your concept, but I’m not sure Collins is the answer.

The problem is that Horford is too small to make an impact even when Gortat is in the game. The Magic have two of the top ten TRUE big men in the league. Collins is our only true big man. Maybe you’re right though; we should at least see what he can do with some real playing time.

Hawkshurrah

February 1st, 2010
12:00 am

Brendan Heywood and/or Randy Foye. If get Foye, must give up Marvin and make Joe the SF. Break the bank if necessary to make it happen. The Wiz are done and likely ready to start over.

i_am_soulstar

February 1st, 2010
1:12 am

well, we can all tell i missed the 1st quarter

Ed

February 1st, 2010
1:33 am

If you check you will find an alarmingly low rate of assists in the last four games. Even in the two games we won the assist total was well below the desired 22+ assists the Hawks usually produce when playing well. Hopefully this trend doesn’t keep up…

doc

February 1st, 2010
2:11 am

saw something interesting in standings. there are only 4 teams more than 2 games above .500 on the road his late in the season; dallas, boston, cleveland and the lakers. very few at or above .500 including atl and magic. really stresses how hard it is to win on the road.

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
9:30 am

Really, I have a tough time conceiving a viable trade that makes us better. We don’t have any non-minimum expiring contracts to trade (besides JJ’s…see below), which means we won’t be in the running for players like Hinrich or Salmons from Chicago or JR Smith from Denver – ie guys on teams who are looking to unload them in order to clear cap space this summer or to get under the luxury tax threshold.

On the free agent market, we could go after Antonio Daniels to be a situational defender at the point or Jerry Stackhouse to be insurance in case one of Mo/Marvin/Jamal/JJ goes down. But is Daniels likely to get much PT considering the limited range on his shot (and that’s assuming he’s still in game shape)? As for Stack, he would have to be ok with lots of DNP-CDs, because he’s not an upgrade over Mo. No one else on the market really interests me (unless you think we’re one Chris Mihm away from the Finals).

As for trading JJ…well, this isn’t baseball. You don’t trade expiring contracts in the NBA just because there’s a chance you’ll get nothing back. The salary cap structure of the league allows the Hawks to offer JJ a longer contract and higher raises than any other team – a fact we can use to our advantage both in negotiating with JJ and in coaxing other teams through JJ to do a sign-and-trade so that JJ can get more money. The “unrestricted free agent” tag is a misnomer because we have the right to offer a sweeter deal than anyone else.

If we trade JJ, it probably means rebuilding (or at the very least resigning ourselves to mediocrity). This is because it’s tough to conceive of a trade that lands us an All-Star level player using JJ’s expiring as the bait. Most of the other big-name players are going to be free agents this summer, and the ones that aren’t (Kobe, Pierce, Allen, etc) are playing for contenders who won’t be apt to trade them just to save some cash. Maybe we could move JJ for Hinrich and Salmons, but that would tie us into Hinrich’s way overpriced contract for 3 years, which would keep us from being active on the free agent market for the next couple summers. And frankly, the resulting lineup wouldn’t scare anyone – and both Salmons (30) and Hinrich (now 29) are older than JJ.

That’s probably the best we could do – JJ for Hinrich and Salmons. The Bulls would leap at the chance, I’m sure, but all we’d be getting would be two borderline starters who are owed $37M over the next 3 years. Unless we’re damned sure JJ isn’t coming back (and there’s no real reason to think that’s the case), that move would make little sense – it would resign us to being a 45-wins-at-best team for the next couple years (unless we could turn around and trade Crawford’s expiring deal for a star next year).

O'Brien

February 1st, 2010
10:10 am

Good blog Ray,

It’s ironic that you bring up Crawford and Marvin. Against Orlando on Saturday, Crawford went 6-17, and Marvin went 3-9.

Crawford is what he is, so hopefully his shot will be falling this time. But Marvin has to knock down the open jumper (and he always gets a lot of open looks). I would suggest trades for him, but because of his BYC status, that will make it difficult.

Teague is inconsistent, and I don’t think he will get the necessary minutes to determine his role (not this season). Therefore, the Hawks need a backup PG, even if it’s just in case Bibby gets hurt. I don’t want Crawford and JJ playing PG for an entire game. Bring a veteran in here.

nire,

Stackhouse signed with the Bucks for the remainder of the season. And if we were to trade JJ to Chicago, hopefully the Hawks would ask for Noah and Hinrich as part of the deal. But I’m with you. We need to keep JJ and hope he resigns.

Hawks could use a big like Brendan Haywood, but its hard for us to come up with a package the Wiz like. Haywood is a $6 mil expiring contract.

On the other blog, I suggested ZaZa/Marvin/Rights to Chills for Butler/Haywood, but I dont know if the Wiz would take that. And as Ray points out, we may have some Chemistry issues with that move.

Big Ray

February 1st, 2010
10:17 am

Have to agree with Astro Joe and Sautee on the idea of a decent veteran pg who can defend and take care of the ball.

Interesting idea by Astro Joe on playing Teague consistently for the next 6 games before making a move to pick up a vet. Hmmmmm. Might tell us a lot..

Niremetal ,

Trading JJ is indeed trading away our best player, or at least the one with the most all-star nominations/selections. It’s certainly arguable that this is resigning yourself to mediocrity. Of course, it could also be resigning yourself to the fact or idea that he is not going to carry you to the promised land, either. The question still remains whether or not JJ really wants to stay, and do the Hawks think they can win it all with him (or is that NOT the goal)?

Either way, if JJ goes then that means a world of change for how this team plays. Some will see despair. Others will see opportunity. But it will be change, if it happens. What’s scarier, the fact that things will change if JJ leaves, or that they probably WON’T if he stays? Hey, that’s as close a guess as one can make unless there is a coaching change. And I’m not putting everything on JJ here. There were a lot of eggs put in this basket, and a lot built off of this one player. So it goes….

Big Ray

February 1st, 2010
10:21 am

And of course, that trade presentation with Chicago was every bit as unappetizing as you meant it to be. ;)

Big Ray

February 1st, 2010
10:26 am

Guys, some really great points from everybody. Keep ‘em coming.

O’brien ,

I agree with much of what you say. If it were to be done, and done with Chicago, I’d ask for about the same you’re asking: Noah and Hinrich. Hinrich gives you that third guard who can pass some, score some, and defend like his life depends on it. Noah is one of the league’s top rebounders, one of the better passing big men, defends all game long, and just…..all I can say at this point was that on draft night, I was hoping Billy Knight would trade up and grab him along with Horford. Cany you imagine those two on the same team? Yeah, yeah, I know. Then what would we do with Josh? I’d rather have that problem than some others I can think of.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
10:36 am

If Sund is willing to go over the 13-man roster, the Hawks could help themselves by grabbing someone who is bought out around the end of February. I suspect that list could include names like Devean George, Trenton Hassell, Etan Thomas, Tony Battie and Raja Bell. I mentioned Antonioi Daniels last night and nire mentioned Chirs Mihm… two guys available now.

If I thought we could definitely get Etan Thomas (who I think may be a better defender for Howard because he has better agility than most low post defenders), I’d consider trading Zaza. Zaza and 2nd rounder for Ramon Sessions and filler?

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
10:42 am

O’Brien,

We can’t trade Childress’s “rights.” Until we sign him, we don’t have any “rights” in him because he is a free agent. The fact that he’s restricted means that we can go over the cap to re-sign him, but that’s all it means – and we can’t trade that right to another team.

I honestly have no desire to make a big move to bolster our frontcourt. Our frontcourt is fine; they just need to get more consistent touches. That won’t happen in an offensive system that consists of “Hey guards, go out and make something happen. We’ll score enough points. And if we don’t, well I don’t give a sh!t.”

Ray,

You know my opinion. As long as Woody’s around, things won’t change. Our offense consists of a series of isolations, post-ups, and other one-on-one plays. It always has, and always will. Getting rid of JJ won’t change that, just like getting rid of Lue didn’t change it. Flip came in and went one-on-one too. Now Crawford has replaced Lue and he does the exact same thing – Crawford’s assist rate is at a career low this year (and he consequently has the worst Ast-TO ratio of his career). Just like Flip’s was his lowest in 5 years last year. Just like Bibby has posted his two lowest assist ratios of his career in his two full seasons with the Hawks.

And yup – just like JJ’s has regressed back to its 06-07 level this year.

vava74

February 1st, 2010
10:45 am

I’m with nire all the way on the trading issue.

However, I would propose something slightly different: with no roster changes at all, I would, however, change the line up to take better advantage of the existing roster and to minor Marvin’s bad season:

Bibby – Mo – JJ – JSmoove – Al would be my starting 5. Mo is a pretty decent player if given enough minutes.

His problem is that since he gets very few minutes he does not heat up and his production is not according to what he can deliver thus making him very streaky.

When he filled in for Marvin with substantial minutes he delivered OK.

Hence, I would use him as a starter on the SG position which is a much more viable option than starting him at the SF position with his 6-5 frame.

By starting him and moving JJ to the SF position, we would still keep a starting 5 which would be reasonably balanced defensive wise (something which would not occur with Bibby, Craw, JJ, …).

My substitution pattern on the back court would be (unless Bibby were playing really well):

a) Bibby, Mo, JJ, JS, Al

b) Crawford in for Bibby: Craw, Mo, JJ, JS, Al (6 minutes into the 1st q)

c) then Mo would come out for Marvin: Craw, JJ, Marvin, JS, Al (8min)

d) then Teague, Zaza and Joe S, would come in: JT0, Craw, Marvin, JSmith, Zaza (11 min)

e) then the starting 5 would come in to close the second quarter (8 minutes into the 2nd)

Second half:

f) Bibby, Mo, JJ, JS, Al

g) Crawford, Mo, JJ, JS, Al (4 minutes into the 3rd)

h) Teague, Crawford, Marvin, JoeSmith, Zaza (8 minutes into the 3rd)

i) Crawford, Mo, JJ, JSmoove, Al (3 minutes into the 4th)

j) then Bibby in for Mo around the 8 minute mark

This is a very rough sketch, with some obvious adjustments depending on the flow of the game, however, as far as I am able to calculate the minute distribution would be roughly:

JJ, JSmoove and Al: around 36 minutes
Crawford: around 34 minutes (could be reduced slightly to accommodate a few more minutes for Marvin)
Mo: around 25 minutes (all at the SG position)
Bibby: around 22 minutes (depending on production)
Marvin: around 19 minutes (featuring him as a main option on offense against inferior opposition)
Joe Smith, Zaza, Teague: around 16 minutes

Spot usage of Collins and RandMo on games where our size proves insufficient.

For the ones counting, yes, it is just an 8 man rotation, however, the minute distribution is balanced and no player is too burdened. Basically it’s a playoff rotation but with enough rest for the main guys.

Also, an underused Bibby should be fresher and less prone to be toasted by the opposition.

There is an excessive trust in Crawford playing the point, however, we know that JJ plays the point, so we would still be playing a lot with JJ pounding and Mo and Craw waiting for the feed.

However, JJ has enough skill to get around most SF in the league.

Both Mo and Craw are capable of hitting the open 3 and Craw can keep defenses honest mixing the 3 ball and deep jumpers with his signature penetrations going all the way or dishing.

At the beginning, with Bibby in, I would concentrate on pick and roll with JSmoove and pick and pop with Al (his shot from the left baseline or the top of the key is becoming deadly) with JJ lurking in the corner or curling out of a baseline pick to get the outlet pass if the initial play did not go well or the hand off.

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
10:57 am

None of that, of course, it to totally absolve our guards. They COULD pass it more, of course. But our offense consists many games of giving the ball to a shooting guard (or scoring-oriented point/combo guard) and having everyone stand around and watch said guard go one-on-one. And when it’s JJ/Jamal you’re talking about, how can you be surprised when they shoot it? They are called shooting guards for a reason. If a coach’s system leaves it up to a shooting guard to make something happen, you shouldn’t be shocked when they try to score. I do wish JJ and Crawford would pass more…but is it their fault that they were born with a shooter’s mentality and are playing under a coach that expects them to be lead guards on many possessions?

Also, the relatively few times the ball goes to the post, it’s the same thing – everyone else stays glued to their spots, often without regard to spacing or the creation of open passing lanes. That’s one of the main reasons why Josh’s turnover numbers used to be so high – if he got into trouble in the lane, there often was no one else for him to pass to. It happens less now than it did a couple years ago, but it still seems like once every game or so, a big man will get the ball deep in the post and turn the ball over because no one else was moving to get open.

Movement and spacing…such simple concepts, but Woody doesn’t give a sh!t about them.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
11:24 am

nire, if Childress were still on the team, do you think that he would stand still during Iso plays? I don’t. I think that he would do what he always did in a Hawks uniform… find the open spot in the seam like a good tight end… or in this case, cut to the hoop or find some other spot where he could be available to receive a pass. Why did he do that? Likely because the guy guarding him would leave him knowing that his shot was very suspect. But did Josh stand in that spot? No, he cut to the rim. I have no idea why others can’t use the same tactic.

Our offense is better than ever before. It is not world class but it is better. I watched Horford get ahndled in the post Friday night by Big Baby. Josh can’t do much like Rasheed or KG in half-court sets. Perkins is a great low-post defender. I truly don;t know how we were supposed to score in the half-court without the guards leading the way Friday evening. I missed the game Saturday so I can’t speak to what happened there. But overall, our offense is clearly better and more diverse than ever before.

vava74

February 1st, 2010
11:50 am

Astro,

On Saturday it was NBA business as usual: we were up 16-6 when suddenly Howard got a free pass to bully our bigs.

Here’s what I posted then (I stand by it even looking back with some distance to that game – I just corrected some typos or introduced a couple of very small extra bits):

“We were up 16-6 when the refs bailed the Magic with a series of bogus calls and non calls (for instance: Collins had a clean steal on Howard quickly converted into a foul in the penalty, then Collins was called for a moving screen when he was being pushed and Marvin was hacked when driving for a reverse lay up). All within 4 or 5 minutes of play and I am not being exhaustive.

When something like that happens, it becomes difficult to defend Howard because you fear getting called for every contact and you start to fear attacking the rim.

Then there was the bogus call on Josh plus the tech on Woody at the end of the first half: a maximum of 2 pts for the Magic converted into 4.

Zaza was called for a foul and a tech when he dove for the ball with Howard pushing him. Then, we we were closing in again (-9), he was called for a moving screen.

Again, I’m not being exhaustive. Just pointing the obvious. How can you play against this?!

In order to beat Orlando, we either have to be 200% or get a fair chance from the refs.

Anyone ignoring their influence on Howard’s “dominance” is blind.”

vava74

February 1st, 2010
12:04 pm

Astro,

My feed when down just before the end of the 1st half, however, if I am not wrong, we had a foul to give when Josh fouled Jameer with 1 second to go.

This means that it was likely that ORL would come out of that possession with ZERO points instead of FOUR.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
12:05 pm

Vava, thanks. I just heard that Mario West signed a contract for the remainder of the year. If Sund maintains his 13-player roster, then no more need to discuss who to add. And I would suggest that a trade is very, very doubtful.

OK, put me on the “play Teague” bandwagon. Not for development… that should come in practice not in games. But because we need a part-time facilitator and we don’t have anyone else but Teague to make that happen now. 10-12 minutes each and every game until he falls on his face and proves that he can’t help the team. Or sets the record for most shots blocked in a 5-6 game period. Not shots that he blocks but shots that he takes that are blocked by the opponents.

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
12:08 pm

Vava,

It’s great point on Childress. I suspect that playing for 3 years in Mike Montgomery’s motion-heavy offense etched in his mind the importance of cuts and spacing. I will say that Childress did that a bit more in his first couple years on the Hawks than he did in his final year. A lot of his touches in his last two years came off offensive rebounds. But even then, he moved more off the ball than any Hawk does today (or did then). I suspect it’s a combination of his Stanford experience and just his naturally sky-high bball IQ. In any case, I certainly can’t blame the lack of off-ball motion entirely on Woody.

vava74

February 1st, 2010
12:17 pm

nire,

you’re giving credit to the wrong guy! :-) it’s Astro who deserves it

I’m the guy who made the highly debatable suggestion of moving Mo to the starting line up with JJ at the SF slot… probably not deserving of compliment, I must confess…

vava74

February 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

JT0 has the “IT” factor. He just needs consistent minutes.

He is playing scared and it’s Woody’s fault. His way off the mark jumpers tell all… more than the blocks he gets against.

Ken Strickland can go overboard sometimes but he is right: Bibby has been playing really badly and still gets the nod from Woody (now a bit less in favor of Craw) whilst JT0 doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt…

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

Vava, it’s inconceivable to nire that I could make a good point. LOL!

vava74

February 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

Why? I have never seen any significant fractures: both have a very high level of bball knowledge and both have typically well structured thoughts… so… what did I miss?? You may not agree all the time but I am sure that I have seen you say similar things on the same subject…

vava74

February 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

And what the hell happened to HBAndo?

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
12:31 pm

Lol…no, I just missed the AJ in the sea of Vava posts. Full credit to AJ there. :)

O'Brien

February 1st, 2010
12:46 pm

Nire,

Thanks for clarifying the Chills rights issue.

Overall, our frontcourt is fine. But if we play the Cavs or the Magic in the playoffs, our frontcourt will probably struggle against Shaq/Big Z/Varajao and D12/Gortat.

I’m not sure what the remedy is. Maybe its Woody needs to come up with a strategy, maybe our guys need to turn up the intensity, maybe the bigs on the bench need more PT, I don’t know.

AJ,

I like Sessions. During the offseason, it was bantered about as to whether or not the Hawks should resign Bibby. I suggested looking into Jarret Jack and Ramon Sessions, but salary cap structure, and the fact that these guards can’t shoot like Bibby probably eliminated them.

Bibby’s play has declined (its debatable if he is living up to his $6 mil salary), and we have him for 2 more seasons after this one. And we don’t know if Teague is good enough to be his backup or his replacement. A backup veteran PG is needed.

Stan VG is right. The Hawks have been healthy all year, and have not dealt with much adversity. If somebody gets injured, we could be in trouble.

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
1:05 pm

O’Brien,

I agree we’ll have trouble bodying up to Shaq and D-12. But that’s a problem that literally every team in the NBA has. Honestly, Jason Collins is as good as anyone we can get to match up with Shaq. Shaq ripped Haywood to shreds both times they met this year. In fact, Shaq’s biggest games of the year in terms of points came against the 7′2 Hibbert, 7′0 Krstic, and 7′0 Haywood (twice). Shaq is not our problem against Cleveland.

And as for D-12…Remember how teams kept trading for Deke in the hopes of stopping Shaq? And how that never worked? The same thing is going to happen now with D-12. There is not a soul in the NBA today that can even slow him down when he’s on. He’s either too strong (for guys like Al) or too quick and athletic (for guys like Collins and now Shaq). That will be true no matter who we get. If you look at his game logs, there’s no rhyme or reason as to what games he struggles in.

If we take our team apart to match up with two guys, we probably won’t solve the problem, but we probably will create chemistry and other unforeseen issues that will weaken us against the other 27 teams in the league.

niremetal

February 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

As for what our strategy should be against them…I say concede the paint to Dwight and let him get his. Just make sure his teammates don’t get theirs too. Dwight isn’t gonna drop 55 points in a game. I think that our best bet is to resist the temptation to double down on Dwight and then crash the boards like mad to make sure he doesn’t get second chance opportunities (especially Josh, the only guy we have who can come close to jumping with Dwight).

JoeBjo

February 1st, 2010
1:22 pm

how about Joe for kryptoNate?\

or Joe and BibbyorMarvin for Bosh and Jack?

vava74

February 1st, 2010
1:26 pm

nire,

You are missing an important point: most games in which Howard comes short, that happens because he is either in foul trouble or realizes that he will be if he plays like he normally does.

Howard’s offensive game is not raw, it is outright bad in most cases and only the constant free pass he gets from the refs make him a true offensive threat.

Further to this, on defense, he gets away with 3 to 5 “defensive 3 seconds in the lane” non-calls per games, which is one of the reasons why he is so good defensively: he his allowed to be stationed under the rim much longer than other players. It’s not a coincidence that the Magic lead the league in this negative stat.

Just check it next time and you will know that I am right.

The refereeing is so important that last night, in the few minutes I watched the game against the Pistons, an old and decaying Wallace was able to keep him under control for some stretches simply because the refs still respect Wallace enough to allow him – playing at home – to be as physical on defense as Howard was on offense.

Any other defender would have been called for a lot more fouls.

The result of this? Howard scored only 16 (although missing 10FT) and Detroit was only 1 shot away from winning the game.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
1:31 pm

Vava, I was just kidding.

nire, I agree with you about the strategy for the Magic. But I think that the issues are less about how we defend the Magic and more about how we score against the Magic. We have yet to break 90 points against them this season. The Magic force us to be a jump shooting team because Howard shuts down Horford and also affects all the drives to the basket. They control the baords and therefore limit our fast break opportunities.

The last two games against the Magic have come 24 hours after an emotional win against the Celtics. Maybe, maybe, maybe, we will have our legs and more energy when we play them next and can hit more open jumpers and fight a little harder for those boards. While I tend to focus on defense as the principle place to win games, in this specific case, we won’t beat the Magic until we figure out how to score at least 95 points against their defense.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
1:35 pm

OB, last season, Horford, Marvinand Josh all missed at least 10 games and we we okay (at least in the regular season). I’m not overly concerned with the “adversity” issue… we don’t have the greatest roster 1-10 but we should be fine (again, in the regular season).

vava74

February 1st, 2010
1:37 pm

To win against ORL we need Crawford playing well. Here are his numbers against them:

Against ORL 3 0 MPG34 FG0.318 3PT%0.200 FT1.000 OREB0.3 DREB1.7 TREB2.0 ASS1.3 STL0.3 BLK0.0 PPG 13.0

O'Brien

February 1st, 2010
1:39 pm

The Celtics play Howard straight up, Nique said the Hawks should play him straight up, we all think the Hawks should play him straight up, but yet Woody continues to double team (although not as often).

I do like that strategy though, because he shoots less than 60% from the line, and we have Al, ZaZa, Collins, and RandMo. Thats 24 fouls right there. Plus Marvin and Joe Smith as well. Just play good team defense, and foul him hard if needed.

Does anyone else think its money related as to why Mario wasn’t signed at the start of the season?

I like his defense, but he needs to work on his offense. The bad thing is he will probably get more PT than our first round pick.

Hawks need JJ more than JJ needs Hawks. And Phoenix needed JJ more than JJ needed Phoenix. But for some reason, Phoenix didnt want to give him the money and respect he wanted, so he came here to a rebuilding team.

What if the Hawks dont give him the contract (money and years) he feels he deserves? Does he take a hometown discount, or does he bolt to Chicago to play with Rose (assuming they have the cap space)? A team with Rose, Deng, and JJ is a good foundation.

JoeBjo

February 1st, 2010
1:46 pm

with krypto nate we would have the antidote for Howard!!

Melvin

February 1st, 2010
2:02 pm

I think the Hawks biggest problem against Orlando is that we don’t attack Howard. We tend to shy away from the paint and resort to jump shots. We are not going to beat the Magic playing on the perimeter. We don’t have the pure shooters that they have. We need to run the ball thru Horford more on the low-post against Howard which will prevent him from roaming (or playing middle linebacker) on defense, hopefully pickup some fouls on him and making him defend instead of conserving his energy on defense. Also, we drive to the basket, we need to have guys off the ball (Horford) cutting to the basket (ala Chills) chills for the dump off pass for a high percentage layup/dunk. A few of these and Howard will have to stay at home on Horford instead controlling the lane.
Also, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Hawks acquire Kwame Brown. He’s decent defender that has the speed, strength and size that match up well against big men like Howard and Shaq. I can see him playing a limited role for the Hawks against teams with big frontlines. His price tag may come as a bargain since he’s not in the playing rotation in Detroit. Let me add that I’m making this suggestion without knowledge of his contract.

Melvin

February 1st, 2010
2:12 pm

I dont think this team is too far away from championship level. However, the owners will have to decide to invest more money into the team to get there. The 65 mil budget is only going to take you so far against the big banks of 75+ mil budgets. If the Hawks are going to keep the same core of guys (starting 5) then I can see upgrading the bench with Chills and Haywood or Kwame along with Crawford, ZaZA, Teague and 2010 draft picks as a legit contenders.

O'Brien

February 1st, 2010
2:27 pm

Melvin,

I’m sure the other big 3 in the East will spend the money if needed, so I hope the ASG are willing to do the same.

Marcus Camby and Haywood are both FA this offseason, so the Hawks will have options if they are willing to spend the money. I think Chills and Marvin are a good SF combination (or we can trade Marvin this offseason), JJ and Crawford are very good SG, but we need help at PG. Bibby is declining, and we need to see if Teague is the answer.

O'Brien

February 1st, 2010
2:28 pm

And lets not count on the 2010 draft picks as part of the bench. Regardless of who they are, they will only get limited PT, not enough to make much of a difference.

Astro Joe

February 1st, 2010
2:45 pm

OB, IMO, if Sund uses his 1st round pick next season, he should choose either a college junior or senior. Someone with “less upside” who is more ready to contribute immediately. Or, someone to feel a very specific and narrow need… like drafting a Jason Maxiell type to provide energy and rebounding off the bench or drafting a perimeter defender like Affaflo. Don’t try to go for a home run, settle for a single or a double in the late 1st round.

Funny thing, Childress could be both the designated rebounding and perimeter defender. And, help the offense flow by moving without the ball.