Archive for March, 2010

Hawks eye the last nine

Indefensible!

I’m glad the Hawks aren’t playing any games on April 1st. We’ve been fooled enough, as it is. Beat the Orlando Magic, lose to the Philadelphia 76ers. A few years later, have things really changed? Have we gotten to where we know what to expect out of this team? How about the team itself- do they know what to expect out of themselves?

Probably the most disturbing thing about an Atlanta squad that is clearly better than ever, is the defense. Or should I say, lack thereof. We probably shouldn’t really be very surprised. After all, the group of guys we have now is very close to the same group that was here last year. Add in Jamal Crawford, who has never been much of a defender in this league, and you’ve possibly compounded a problem. Is it ability? How about effort? How about defensive design and concept implementation? Woodson has implemented the switching defense some time ago. So it’s not like it’s a new concept. You would think that the players have gotten better …

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The win you were waiting for

They did it.

The Hawks finally beat the Orlando Magic.

Even better, there is no caveat to reach for. No lame excuse. All of Orlando’s starters (and I assume their bench) were healthy and played (though Pietrus was injured during the game). The Hawks simply beat them. Have we waited a long time for this, or what? It’s easy to look at this game now, and think about games we could have won previously, but why do that? Wins and losses are both earned, after a fashion. Rather than reflect on what could have been, the Hawks should reflect on what could be. Leave the hindsight to us, the fans.

How big was this win, exactly? Do we give it too much weight? Not enough? Is it just another game? Atlanta avoided a season sweep by Orlando, gained a measure of confidence, and pulled within one win of last season’s total. How many more games will the Hawks win?

The Lesson

So what did the Hawks learn in this game? Have they truly figured out the Orlando Magic? A few thoughts for your afternoon …

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Hawks show toughness again

If you think the win against Charlotte was something, then I hope you saw the game against San Antonio. While the Bobcats are certainly a tough team to play against (they’ve competed well against some of the best teams in the league), the Spurs are a different animal. Mentally and physically tough, disciplined, this team executes well and never seems to be out of control. That’s not something that the Hawks have been known for in recent years. But they may have just turned a corner, and found a new “toughness resource” in the process.

Call Me Al….

Much like the Paul Simon song (featuring a funny cameo performance by Chevy Chase in the music video), the source of Atlanta’s newfound toughness has a name. That name is Al Horford. Often maligned as undersized and offensively deficient, Horford has taken his game to new heights. Was that the intention all along? Perhaps not, as Horford approached the game and his duties in a very workman-like fashion, doing exactly what was asked …

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Missing Joe and the Triple P II

If there is anything you can count on about a Hawks loss, it’s the diverse, yet very predictable reasons offered by us fans. Many will blame their favorite whipping boy players (how does this not get old?). Some will blame the coach. Same stuff every time. But in all of this, one much maligned guy gets a break: Joe Johnson. So how much do the Hawks miss him?

 

With or Without You

First off, a sample size of two games is not even remotely enough to begin forecasting what the Hawks will be like if Joe Johnson is gone from Atlanta come summertime. Let’s be honest, most of us are thinking about exactly that. Rather than how many games down this, the final stretch, that Joe will miss, and the impact it could have on this team in its bid for the #3 playoff seeding. Rather than whether or not Joe will be fully healthy (and rested) for the playoffs and how that can affect this team’s performance in the playoffs. Seriously, do we want to go into the postseason for the third year in a …

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Trap games and the “Triple P”

Last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons was a nice reminder that the Hawks can indeed blow out inferior opponents. Did the Hawks need such a reminder? Maybe, maybe not, but it sure was a nice treat for us, the fans.

Improving their home record to a sterling 26 and 7, the Hawks go on the road Tuesday to play the Nets, and follow that up with a trip to Toronto the very next day. While back to back games are no joke, much less on the road, this isn’t exactly the toughest two game stretch for a good team. Win both, and the Hawks can go two games over .500 on the road.

Eyes on the Race

The win against Detroit puts the Hawks a meager half game above the Celtics, who face the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers in Quicken Loans arena this afternoon. Cleveland is 28 and 4 at home, one of the few teams that has a better home record than the Hawks, so by the end of the day, we could have a larger (though still tenuous) lead at the #3 spot. Stay tuned….

 

HAWKS VS. NETS

While the fabulous …

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Hawks get help from the outside

The Atlanta Hawks, seemingly unable to help themselves just now, are getting help. No, not a free agent player come to rescue them. Not a hypnotist to get them to focus on one thing (defense would be my choice). Not anything like that.

They’re getting help from an old enemy: the Boston Celtics. Say WHAT? Yes, those guys.

 After wrestling away the #3 spot in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have lost two straight to teams that are not far north of a .500 record. In doing so, the Hawks and Celtics are tied with 40-23 records. Oh, Boston doesn’t mean to help. Not anymore than the Pacers meant to help us into the 8th seed (and subsequently, the playoffs) in 2007-2008. Appearing to have the driver’s seat locked up, the Pacers managed to lose more games than the Hawks did down the final stretch of the season, and eventually lost the playoff battle as well.

Deja Vu, anyone?

Could the same thing happen this season with the Celtics?

THEN AGAIN….

The Celtics are NOT the ‘08 Pacers. …

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Mistakes made now, lessons for later

We lost to Miami because Joe missed 15 of his 23 shots. Because Josh Smith had five turnovers. Because Al Horford stayed in foul trouble. Because Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby all but disappeared from the boxscore. Because the bench players stink. Because Mike Woodson can’t coach. Because the Hawks are the Hawks. Because Wade gets calls. Because, because, because.

Good thing we’re just fans. If the team thought like this, they would be ripping themselves apart. Whatever your favorite reason from those mentioned above (or whatever ones you can come up with), I disagree. I think we lost because we allowed them to win. Because we lost focus and made a couple of crucial mistakes, one right after the other, that gave the Heat all the opportunity they needed to take the game back. Feel free to disagree, because I’m not saying I’m right. I just think the usual stuff just isn’t going to cover it this time. Why? Because despite all that was happening or NOT happening right for the …

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50 wins possible, will Hawks do better?

Where were the Hawks around this time last season? At 34 wins and 27 losses through 61 games. So after 60 games this season, the Hawks stand at 39 and 21. If they win this Friday night against Golden State, then they’ll have shown a 6 game improvement over the exact number of games as last season.

With 22 games remaining in the regular season, the Hawks have but to play .500 ball to make the “magic” mark of 50 wins. But isn’t that last season’s goal? Will 50 wins mean THIS season, what it would have last season? I don’t think so, and the main reason has to do with playoff position. Last year, Atlanta surprised many people with 47 wins and a 4th seed playoff position. In winning their first round series, they proved that they were there by no mistake. As we all remember, an injury-plagued second round series was something far less pleasant.

Road Record

This season is different. The Hawks know that they have to improve in a number of ways. One of the goals was to play at least …

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Tough win over Bucks, but Bulls are next

Even as I breathe a sigh of relief, I can’t help but be a little peeved about a few things. Complaining about a win? Certainly not, especially an overtime win that saw our team captain lead us out of the ditch and back towards the road. This last game had a bit of a playoff feel to it, as did the one before. This time, however, the Hawks got it done. It left me thinking, however. Which is more important, worrying that the Hawks found themselves in another tight game towards the end of regulation, or happy that they found a way to survive overtime?

Initially, you’d have to say that what matters is the”W” or the “L.” And you’d be right. And, unlike the game against Dallas, the Hawks didn’t surrender the lead in a game they clearly should have won. No, they ground out a win over a tough team that was on a healthy winning streak, despite struggling for the duration of the game (except the first couple of minutes). So, I’ll stick with being happy over being worried. And here  are a …

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