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 few observations specifically about this game, and about the Hawks in general, that may have come to the forefront of your mind lately:

You can tell…

….When players are sold on a coach’s ideas. The Bucks play like they are coached by a defensive-minded former point guard, who likes ball and personnel movment. So many cuts, backdoor screens, and things of that nature helped keep the Bucks in the game. Without Michael Redd, they don’t have a tier one (or arguably, even a tier two) offensive player. An argument could be made for John Salmons, and he is indeed a good offensive player. But he’s not going to give you 20+ points a night for the course of a season, and he can be streaky. So, the Bucks survive by moving without the ball, and making extra passes for easier buckets. On the other side of the court, they’ve become a defensively tough-minded team. Prior to them playing for Scott Skiles, Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino were considered to be non-factors on defense, and marginal on their best days. Not so THESE days. They may have foul issues from time to time, but both guys are clearly giving the effort, and they’re doing it on every play.

Conversely, the Hawks don’t seem to buy into the defensive precepts of Mike Woodson anymore. What happened? A team once known for getting wins by playing a suffocating defense, now finds itself as one of the more defensively inept teams in the league. Hawks commentator Bob Rathbun noted that Atlanta is in the bottom third of the League in defense. Why? Is the defensive concept an issue? Are the players not listening to the coaching staff? Can it really be attributed fully to one or the other, or soley to any other theory? It’s not a matter of consistency. If anything, the Hawks are very consistent. They consistently allow penetration from the perimeter. They consistenly find themselves out of position, late on a rotation, or in a mismatch at all the wrong times. Josh Smith consistently makes the most plays and gives the most individual effort, while erasing a large number of his teammates’ mistakes. The only inconsistent thing about the Hawks on defense is their committment to playing defense together. Here lately, even that has become a consistency….they consistently don’t do it.

Iso Joe

…Just really isn’t the issue. Oh sure, it’s a hot button topic if you’re focused on who you want to blame for stagnant offense or a loss. As stated by folks like Niremetal have noted, the Hawks run a series of ISO plays. Sometimes is Jamal who gets the isolation. Sometimes Josh or Al. Are they all be design? I don’t think so. I believe some of them, maybe many of them, are by default. We complain about personnel and ball movement, and then we get teased by seeing it for a while, then watching it disappear. I didn’t get to see this game while it was being played, so I got to watch it on my DVR instead. As many of you know, the magic of DVR is you get to fast forward through commercials, hit “stop” and “play” as you please, etc. But there’s nothing like “rewind.” I rewound several series and I realized something: the Hawks have very little “stick-to-it-iveness.” I’ll explain what I mean in a minue. Some teams will pick and roll you to death. Others will run shooters off of screens and bomb away from the perimeter all night. Still others will pound the ball into the post and either continue to score there, or use the threat to pass out to open shooters. The Hawks? They are guaranteed to throw an ISO at you when the chips are down. Those teasing moments that occasionally last for the better part of three quarters, where the Hawks share the ball? They all have a common theme: the defense is either consistently allowing it, or simply can’t stop it.

As many times as we’ve watched the Hawks share the ball and then stop, have we ever stopped and wondered why? It’s because some teams, many of them lately, are reacting to it. The Hawks share the ball and move without the ball until they are denied. Then, they give up. And it happens from series to series. When we have the ball, our guys will usually try one back door cut, one screen, or some other move to a spot where they can be most effective. But when they don’t get the ball, they stop right there and stay in that general area. If they set a screen, and the man with the ball doesn’t get sprung free, they don’t set another one. They don’t keep moving! They don’t try it again!  There is no reset! And guess what happens next? Despite the fact that there may not have been a play called for it, somebody ends up with the ball, and they are all by themselves. Now what do you have? ISO. Paying closer attention to more recent games, I would say that there have been more ISO plays that happened by default, than there have been actual plays calls. The difference? When guys like Joe or Jamal are intentionally isolated with the ball, the chances are actually better that they will succeed, knowing what they have to do. Force a player into an isolation, and he has to think quickly on his feet, which can be easily negated by the lack of movement by his teammates. Between coaching staff and players, this problem needs to be mitigated. Opposing teams have apparently figured this out, and are exploiting it. Want the Hawks to stop doing something that is hurting you? Deny them for a possession or two. They’ll quit doing it and go right to ISO plays or one-and-done jumpshooting.

Hey, wasn’t that…

….Jerry Stackhouse? The 15 year veteran swingman that kept hanging around Atlanta throughout the summer, and prior to the season? Typically, most of us took one side or the other: “sign him now” and “no way!” In between, there was a lot of scoffing at the idea that Stackhouse could still play and contribute meaningfully. Even the steady reports of then-beat writer Sekou Smith were discounted out of hand. Some thought signing him might be a money issue, and we already had Mo Evans. Well, Hawks fans got to see firsthand what Stackhouse can STILL do in a REAL game, with real minutes.  Did Stack get up for this game, or was he really that good off the bench? Only one observation truly resonated with me on the subject. It wasn’t that he still has quicks. It wasn’t that he could score inside or out. It wasn’t that he looked smooth, rather than old. It was the response when Stack was mentioned to Hawks assistant coach Jim Todd. Todd’s response: “we tried to get him here.” What in the devil happened? The guy signed with Milwaukee. Milwaukee? What was more attractive about Milwaukee? I don’t know what they signed him for, but I’d say they’re getting their money’s worth. Even though he’s isn’t shooting particularly well from the field overall, his season stats are proof that he can contribute well from the bench in 20 minutes worth of work. Spilled milk, maybe. But one does wonder what might have been.

Believe it or not…

….Brandon Jennings is lightning fast and a special player, but not really quicker than Jeff Teague. In fact, he didn’t even look much better to me than Jeff Teague last night. Usually, the Hawks have all sorts of problems with very fast point guards who can penetrate. But Jennings looked like a rook. Was it because veteran guard Mike Bibby outmaneuvered him? Not really. Was he just having a bad night? Maybe. Most likely, Jennings found out that in spite of his 55 point explosion earlier in the season, and a number of very good performances…he’s still a rookie. He has much to learn. He’s gotten a lot of valuable experience with all the minutes he’s been playing, as a starter. Yet last night, he looked prone to make mistakes on both offense and defense, didn’t have a jumpshot that I’d write home about, and wasn’t the budding maestro he appeared to be early on. In his last 31 games, he has only shot 50% from the field three times. The rest of the time, he has literally been nowhere near that shooting percentage. In fact, his 16 ppg have come with a shooting percentage that has come all the way down to 36.8%, with several performances that were 35% or worse. Is the kid talented? Absolutely. Does he have a future as a starting pg? I’m fairly sure of it.

But I wonder. If given the same minutes and shot attempts, would Teague do any worse, or any better? No, I’m not remotely suggesting that such a thing be done right now, or even this season. But having watched Jennings, I’m wondering if shot attempts and playing time aren’t the bulk of the difference.

Call it like it is…

…Josh Smith carried us in this game throughout regulation, with some help here and there from Al Horford. When the Hawks needed a basket or a defensive play, Smith delivered more often than not, and even hit most of his free throws. His offensive rebounds late in the game were perhaps some of the most pivotal plays of all.

…Joe Johnson saved our butts in overtime. Unable to deliver during regulation, Johnson dug deep and scored nine of his points in the overtime period, including a HUGE three pointer, to seal the game for us. This is what your best player and go-to guy is supposed to do. Joe got the job done when it mattered.

…Jamal Crawford is struggling in a bad way. Some will point to his career shooting percentage, but I don’t think that’s it. He’s slumping, and whether or not it’s related to injury in any way is unknown to anyone but Jamal. One thing is for sure, though. The Hawks need their Super Sub to find his way back ASAP. These things happen, but down the stretch is a bad time for it. The only thing worse would be an ineffective playoff showing.

….despite some decrease in his whining, and being more focused on remaining effectively in play, Josh Smith is not in favor with the officials. While Joe Johnson has endured a lack of calls for years, Smith gets hammered on both ends of the floor. It seems that he will continue to serve time in NBA Referee Purgatory for the rest of the season, with no hope for absolution in sight. Maybe serving his penance with a more contrite attitude for the full season will help him regain some measure of grace next season. One can only hope.

 

HAWKS VS. BULLS

It’s just not going to get easier. Having passed a weakening Celtics squad for third place overall in the East, the Hawks remain two games behind division leader Orlando.

Atlanta faces another team that is hungrily chasing a decent playoff spot in the Chicago Bulls, who are smack in the middle of a tough fight for the fifth seed between them, Milwaukee, and Toronto. Last year’s fifth seed, the Miami Heat, find themselves 9th  overall in the East, and staring at the possibility of not making the playoffs at all. With Wade’s impending free agency (as if you haven’t heard this phrase 300 times too many already), that has to make Miami front office officals very nervous. But more on that in a later blog.

Here We Go Again

Atlanta won the last contest between the two teams, but that was in the Highlight Factory. The last trip to Chicago ended up with the Hawks slinking away from a shameful 3 point loss. Besides a masterful 40 point performance by Joe Johnson, the Hawks were unable to manage much help from other sources, as three of the Hawks’ starters combined for a dismal 7 of 27 from the field, Josh Smith stayed in foul trouble, and the Bulls were the latest team to beat the Hawks all over the glass.

The good news is that while the Hawks had all they could take of John Salmons while playing Milwaukee, they won’t have to face either him again tonight, along with human pogo stick Tyrus Thomas. They also don’t know how to deal with the tandem of Joe and Jamal, or Al and Josh, assuming Jamal’s shot is on, and Josh isn’t in foul trouble.

The bad news is that Derrick Rose is averaging 23 points and 6 assists per game against the Hawks. Even scarier is the fact that he has shot 52% over the course of his last 14 games (the entire month of February). Rose gets to the basket he wants to, and is either converting the shot or getting to the line just about every time. And while Tyrus Thomas may be missed in some ways, newcomer Hakim Warrick is a more heady hustler who provides Marvin Williams-esque stats off the bench, and is a more stable/solid defender. Mix in Joakim Noah’s recovery from injury, and this could be trouble very quickly if the Hawks come out sluggish.

Playing an energetic and hungry team a mere 24 hours after a hard-fought contest is never easy, but nobody is going to have any sympathy for the Hawks. They’ll have to dig deep, find the energy, and get another road win. Boston isn’t guaranteed to falter forever, and Orlando could widen the gap any day now.

153 comments Add your comment

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:08 pm

Acie Law!!!!

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:10 pm

Josh and Al have double-doubles. Marv and JJ are both 1 reb away with 3 mins left. 5 different players have at least 3 assists. Well-rounded game…

Cam

March 1st, 2010
10:18 pm

“Warrick is more likely to “stay home” and bother his opponent by staying on him. ”

Ray, whatever you think of Thomas, Warrick is a terrible defender. The Hawks were running 1-on-1 plays for Zaza Pachulia against him tonight.

Zaza Pachulia, for crying out loud.

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
10:24 pm

Wow, in the same game blog, I praised Joe and nire praised Josh.

Maybe we’re both somewhat trainable. ;-)

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:24 pm

My #2 team isn’t having such an easy time on the road tonight.

And yeah…Warrick doesn’t do D.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:26 pm

Heh…I’ve been praising Josh all year Sautee, but mainly on Hawksquawk where the hordes of JJ and Josh followers are about even. Round here, he doesn’t have any regular haters anymore. And this year, it’s tough to find too much fault with him without nitpicking. Same is true of of our other two All-Stars too (and yes, I said “other”).

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
10:27 pm

Starting frontcourt: 50 pts, 37 reb, 12 assists. Wow!

Yes, Chicago was thin, but those are good nimbers.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:35 pm

I said “nimbers” at work today. I think I almost got fired.

doc

March 1st, 2010
10:37 pm

sweet one tonight though it is hard to believe we were up by 6 so late in the game. josh is a freak

good to see marvin and jamal stroking it a bit.

vava74

March 1st, 2010
10:45 pm

Astro,

You first need a reliable offensive system, THEN you can use the ISO to bail you out of situations in which all has failed. NOT after just 2 or 3 missed shots coming after poor ball and player movement.

I distinctively remember the Bulls and the Lakers being bailed out of many jams by Paxton, Harper, Shaw and Fisher AFTER EXTENSIVE BALL MOVEMENT, including MJ acting as a decoy.

Instead of raising the Byron Russell – MJ ISO play, why don’t you count the number of titles which MJ and Kobe won whilst playing mostly ISO under weaker coaches and weaker coaching systems??

The number is ZERO.

doc

March 1st, 2010
10:46 pm

at nire …. Round here, josh doesn’t have any regular haters anymore.

too funny man.

for anyone to say that and it is true, shockingly true, though he used to eb the lightening rod, it means he has almost been perfect. he has even toned it down with the refs. sunday he just squatted after a bad call at mid court until he got his composure then went up and talked to the ref. as soon as he gets respect and gets to the foul line his numbers are going to go up big time. also seems we forget he had a 70% free throw percentage until last year for his first years in the league. dont know why he got the yips.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
10:49 pm

Warrick looked like a rookie tonight. Maybe he hasn;t gelled with his new team yet. I was disappointed in his performance and just his overall vibe. He just looked confused and uncomposed. And I like his game and would gladly bring him to tthe Hawks. But something about watching him tonight made me question his B-ball IQ.

Speaking of which, good to see Teague and Acie dueling on the floor this evening.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
11:04 pm

doc, ankle injury. That was the popular theory behind all of his “yips” last season.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
11:13 pm

Y’all know that i am headed to Stone Mountain tomorrow to carve portions of the following in the granite. This just confirms my theory over the past few seasons. Anyone care to guess who the player is with the 10-second memory?

And here is where I tie Ray’s observations about defense and isos together: What you see from the Hawks isn’t always what Woody wants. After spending time watching this team at practice and shootarounds, and hearing how what Woody says from the bench plays out on the court, I think I can say that the Hawks aren’t always a very focused group.

At practices I’ve seen Woody show a guy exactly what he wants him to do against a screen-and-roll, ball reversal, or whatever, then watch that guy do it wrong 10 seconds later when the Hawks run through the situation. “Where are you going?” is a common refrain from Woody during these sessions. I’ve heard Woody repeatedly urge his guards to get the ball inside to Smoove or Al only to see them passively pass it around the perimeter. Last night against the Bucks, I heard Woody yell at Josh four times to give up the ball and get inside when he brought it up but Josh instead tried to whip passes to the post (as noted above that might be because he doesn’t want the Hawks to end up in iso).

doc

March 1st, 2010
11:52 pm

well aj i tried to assure you all last season that once he was healed completely his game would rise to unprecedented heights again, including his free throws. the doc was right on on all accounts. heh heh

doc

March 1st, 2010
11:53 pm

melvin, tell him it was true. ;-)

niremetal

March 2nd, 2010
12:20 am

In February, Josh averaged 18.6ppg, 10.0rpg, and 5.4apg while shooting 55.4% from the floor. That’s the highest rebounding average, highest assist average highest shooting percentage, and third-highest scoring average of Josh’s career. Tonight was the second-highest rebound total for a single game in Josh’s career.

He’s been playing out of his mind. For the past month, he’s been the team’s best player, which saying quite a bit because JJ (23.7 ppg, 4.3rpg, 4.2apg, 49.6% shooting including 44.1% on threes and what must have been a stratospheric TS%) was playing at an All-NBA level too. If they both can sustain this until the playoffs and if Crawford and/or Bibby pull out of their respective funks, we will be a legit threat for the title.

doc

March 2nd, 2010
12:50 am

uh i would like to see some of zaza strut come back as well as some of marvin’s waddle before i say we can be legit nire. love the data. josh avg double double land is huge. it wont be long before he is a legit 20 10 monster. as soon as he gets the refs on his side with some foul calls he is golden. we need an inside outside game of josh and jj and/or jamal and now that al is getting consistent with his mid range game there are many more alternatives to the iso crap.

doc

March 2nd, 2010
1:00 am

i think those were the numbers jj had coming here. man he and jamal stroked the free throws yesterday when we needed it. if he could only get into the lane to draw some fouls.

jamal seems to do better when he is both driving to the basket than standing and waiting exclusively for the ball. one compliments the other. his saying his shoulder didnt hurt except when driving seemed to take him off his game some is my opinion. he was doing both tonight.

Big Ray

March 2nd, 2010
1:23 am

Cam ,

I give up. You’re right. Hakim Warrick is an awful defender, and one bad night proves it. By the way, how many points did Zaza score?

Meanwhile, Tyrus Thomas is so good, that he got his job taken from him by a rookie, and got shipped to Charlotte for Flip Murray and Acie “trade bait” Law. Whatever was I thinking?

Doc ,

It’s nice to see Josh playing so well. A much improved attitude, an increase in maturity, and a healthy ankle can do wonders.

Astro Joe ,

You’re going to carve that into granite? I hope the Park Rangers don’t catch you. And while MC says not to take it too far with the idea that players are tuning Woodson out, how do you suppose management sees it?

The Hawks are not always focused. What does it take to get them (and keep them) focused? More on this in a later blog, and it’s going to get a bit hot in the usual corners.

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
3:41 am

When we ask for ball and player movement we are asking for a bit of Xs and Os, not random passing or running around.

When Woody asks for more ball movement he is asking for random ball movement since his “plays” can hardly be mistaken as such, in particular out of time outs.

Cam

March 2nd, 2010
3:48 am

Ray, I never claimed Thomas was a defensive stalwart, although he’s pretty good around the perimeter. His help defense is an issue.

Thomas wasn’t traded because of his defense, but because his offense was inconsistent, his work ethic was questioned, he didn’t get along with Del Negro, and the Bulls weren’t going to re-sign him. His job wasn’t really taken from him. He got hurt and Vinny’s a fool.

Incidentally, he’s averaging 13 points on 54% shooting, nearly 8 boards and over 3 blocks in just 27 minutes in Charlotte.

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
8:54 am

Tyrus Thomas and Hakim Warrick are much alike: both are athletically gifted, have shown flashes of talent both seem to be underachievers.

Hakim has already “lost the train” and is destined to be a role player/journeyman. Tyrus may still get it done, provided that he listens to Brown and his “play the game the proper way” preachings.

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
9:19 am

Ray, I suspect that management (Sund) has seen a few dozen or so players in his 30+ year career and my guess is that this is not the first time he has witnessed players who can’t stay focused.

If ANYONE has ever manageed adults, you can’t tell me that they stay focused. Ever had a co-worker who “gets distracted”? I wouldn’t put too much on unfocused NBA players…. I’d be willing to bet a mortgage payment that every occupation suffers from unfocused employees.

My point is that playing time should be disteributed based on practice habits and if a player can’t retain a lesson that was taught 10 seconds ago, what willl he do when he enters a real game several hours later? Likewise, what does it tell the rest of the team if you play the “remedial” student major minutes? It says “we can veg out at practice and still get time”. How is that good for a team?

KevinA

March 2nd, 2010
10:08 am

Jamal is driving more? JJ with more floaters? Al shooting more? More attacks at the rim? Why is Josh getting more rebounds. Hard to believe it is just effort or some epiphany on tracking a bounce off the rim.

KevinA

March 2nd, 2010
10:10 am

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
7:58 pm

Nice post.

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
10:13 am

Astro,

What if some players have reached the point where they feel that independently on how well the fare in practice, how hard they comply with instructions they still don’t get any playing time or plays called for them whilst others are clearly struggling and continue to deserve Woody’s trust independently of their production?

For every argument you make, we can easily present the opposite argument to favor an opposite view from what you constantly try to bring up.

Can’t you sense anything brewing when it is Josh who is calling for ball movement and is emerging as a vocal leader in this team?

More, I’ll give you a fact: Woody promised during training camp that he would give more minutes to the bench and would like the Hawks to share the rock more. What we saw: everyone seemed more focused at the start of the season.

As the season progresses and Woody continues to use his bench erratically, continues to call for a perimeter heavy offense and neglects to take into account bad performances by first teamers (or Craw) to shuffle his line ups or his plat calling a bit, we are witnessing a progressive loss of focus.

doc

March 2nd, 2010
10:25 am

vava74 such a profound contrarian view that maybe points to the heart of the lack of focus. when jj or josh put the team on their shoulders, we win. unfortunately they are not quite top tier guys who can do it every game so woody misses the mark in putting the concept of them to the rescue rather than the team. guys cant sit on the bench and be ready all the time as starters cant give everything all the time. said it earlier in another blog. nice to win though and we have some studs in josh, jj, al and jamal just not elite players yet if ever. lower top tier suggested for jj yesterday and he is our top gun.

niremetal

March 2nd, 2010
10:44 am

Co-sign doc. Or to mimic the man himself:

co sign doc

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
10:51 am

Vava, then Sund replaces him. And if Sund (who seemingly observes practices) thinks that relative to most coaches and players that he has observed, that Woody is doing as well relating to these players as other coaches that he deems to be “quality”, then he offers Woody an extension and we have our answer. But the assumption that a coach who has a few months left on his contract would shoot himself in the foot by oppressing players who can definitively help this team above and beyond the guys who are getting playing time, doesn’t hold much validity for me. Self-preservation is the first law and I simply don’t see Woody declaring that “I will waste Player B because I like player A and I am willing to lose my contract because I like player A so very much”. Sorry, I ain’t buying it. More likely, player B needs to step up, earn his time and stay attentive and quiet.

I understand the frustration with some of Woody’s coaching habits (player substitution, play calling, etc.) but I can’t recall a time when I questionned his integrity. All coaches walk into a season or game with a set plan but if they deviate from that plan is that indicative of them lying or making an adjustment based on “market place conditions”? Again, if Woody’s integrity is in question, I’d like to know why.

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
11:07 am

Vava, I am also fairly practical when it comes to qoutes. MC gets quotes from guys who speak to him. Josh happened to say that he was calling for ball movement and encouraging Crawford to shoot. I don’t doubt it. But should we assume that he was the ONLY one calling for ball movement and encouraging teammates through their struggles? Did MC conduct a poll of all of the players or did he just capture a quote from one and ran with it? I think it was the latter. I’d bet that Horford was cwertainly encouraging Crawford and asking for ball movement. Just because MC didn’t ask “everyone who encouraged Crawford please raise their hand” is no reason to conclude that Smith was the lone voice of reason. I think he was most likely the guy that MC went to (likely because he has been ballin’ out of control). My guess… when the next Hawk is ballin’ out of control, we’ll likely read all kind of leadership-type quotes from that guy. And if so, does that mean that Smith has stopped being a more vocal leader? Of course not.

Lastly, please show me some month over month analysis that suggests that Woody is calling for a more “perimeter oriented offense”. Because I truly do not understand how it is that everyone is so enthused about the performance of Horford AND Josh and yet think that we are still a perimeter heavy offense. So is your statement based on any recent observation or is it based on maybe 2008-09 data? Please point to how it is that Josh and Al are putting up better than ever numbers with Bibby moving into a secondary role and yet, Woody is moving to a “perimeter heavy” offense. Maybe I need to clean my glasses.

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

Astro,

You are really one of a kind…

I NEVER EVER questioned Woody’s integrity. I question his ability to overcome his fears and experiment more.

When the going gets tough, Woody sticks to what he knows and as the season progressed and we came out of the ASG, his notion of focusing and making a push for the playoffs was to play only 6 guys during the entire second half of the PHO game, being that TWO OF THEM WERE EITHER HURT OR STRUGGLING BADLY.

Then, after initially acknowledging that he was wrong, he recanted and said that he had made the right choice to shorten the rotation!!!

He also openly said that he is happy to rely on ISO play. PUBLICLY proclaimed his love for what should be a fall back plan instead of a primary option.

In relation to Josh:

Al Horford said CLEARLY that it was Josh who stepped up and asked (shouted) for more ball movement during the 4th quarter in Utah.

This has been – in the meantime – confirmed by MC as something which is “going on”.

Coincidentally, Smoove is playing possessed right now: I am not saying that he is only doing good things, but he is clearly giving all that he is able to do, including vocally asking for more ball movement.

As for the perimeter heavy offense… well I don’t have the stamina to argue with you extensively, but here it goes…

How many times do we see the Hawks revert to jump shooting and in many occasions even before our bigs even establish position down low??

You can say: It’s not Woody’s fault! Well, let me tell you: it is since we do not have enough offensive schemes and it is when he takes waaaaay too much time to call a time out AND DESIGN A PLAY to take out of a slump.

You know what happens when we start hoisting bad jumpshots and go into a drought? Woody may even call a time out but the play is INVARIABLY to give the rock to JJ and ask him to bail us out with an ISO play.

You even acknowledge how poorly we (Woody) reacted to a zone defense and you can still find the nerve to come back contesting that we do not rely too much on perimeter shots when the game is on the line?

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
11:45 am

Astro,

I have just finished downloading the Mavs game.

I am going to watch it so I can come back to haunt you…

doc

March 2nd, 2010
12:22 pm

punctuation you mean punctuation?

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
12:23 pm

Vava, yeah watch the Mavs game and tell me how many perimeter shots the Mavs took. Go download any tight 4th quarter contest and tell me how many times the defense tightened in the lane and forced the opposing team to make jump shots. Go and download a Mavs game where Dirk is posted in the block in late game situations. Oh, Dirk isn’t a good example? Okay, how about the Lakers, is Gasol posting up for late game heroics? Not a good example? Ok, find one. My guess, in late game situations the opposing team is less apt to give up a 6 footer and the available shot is most likely going to be a jumper. And no, I’m not saying that it is an absolute… there are no absolutes in sports. But any NBA coach is certainly not going to allow for freedom of movement in late game situations.

If you read any of my posts after the Dallas game, you will know that I railed on Woody for not adjusting to the zone. But I also won’t use 25% of 15-18 games to determine the effectiveness of a coach. That is akin to your boss using about 5 weeks of a 52 week year to determine your performance grade for the year. How’d you like that? I wouldn’t.

doc

March 2nd, 2010
12:28 pm

vava …

You can say: It’s not Woody’s fault! Well, let me tell you: it is since we do not have enough offensive schemes and it is when he takes waaaaay too much time to call a time out AND DESIGN A PLAY to take out of a slump.

what does he say in the huddle vava, something along the lines of give it to joe and he is going to take us out of our lack of ball movement and interest in playing an offensive scheme? yeah, i think you answered you own question, no?

vava74

March 2nd, 2010
12:32 pm

Astro,

I’ll stick to counting the number of passes before each shot rather than the distance from which the same are taken…

Also, you mentioned that there are no absolutes in sport. I agree, that is why 10/15% more of interior game or 2 or 3 passes more each possession may be enough to make the difference between winning and losing.

In relation to analyzing just 25% of Woody’s performance… well, it’s when it matters the most since these game are similar to what will happen in the playoffs.

I hope that I am wrong but I think we will be exposed come playoff time.

O'Brien

March 2nd, 2010
2:45 pm

vava,

I think the Hawks will win their first round matchup no matter who they play. But I look forward to seeing that second round series (which I think will be either Cleveland or Orlando).

And that second series will probably be the determining factor for what happens with Woody. If Hawks lose 4-1, he might get a 1 or 2 year extension. But if the Hawks lose 4-3 (or win the series), he gets 4 years (in my opinion).

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
2:47 pm

Vava, the question becomes is that “exposure” related to poor coaching or lack of player depth (as it relates to the roster payroll). Because if 7 of the top 8 teams are paying a luxury tax, that seems like more than just coincidence. Who knows, maybe there is actually a relationship between contending for a title and payroll.

Finally, I used to have my “preferences” when it came to this team… both in terms of player selection and coaching. But I have learned to enjoy the team even if they don’t spend like I prefer, don’t draft as I would or don’t run the plays that I think would be best. After all, I’m a fan not a basketball expert. And the results of them doing it their way suggests that maybe they DO know what they are doing. Very good record with an average payroll, average coach and roster. Something is geting done right. Can it be beter, sure. But why get bent out of shape if “better” ultimately results in something less than a Finals appearance.

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
8:09 pm

OB, I don’t expect any coach but the ultra-elite (think Phil Jackson, LB, Pop, etc.) to get a 4-year contract anymore. The owners are losing too much money to pay multiple coaches in the future (I think Dumars has his owner paying at least 2 coaches now). Sund will likely try to comvince Woody to re-up for 2 seasons and Woody will surely insist on 3. If I’m Woody, I would settle for 2 only if Joe is re-signed. Without Joe, this team will almost certainly take at least a half-step back (if not a whole big one). If Joe leaves, I want a 3-year deal so I have at least that long to bring the team back up with a new guy player in the mix.

Astro Joe

March 2nd, 2010
8:19 pm

I can’t believe that I am writing this but I am warming up to the idea of Josh playing some minutes at SF. If he can maintain his discipline and continue to spend large quanities of time ina point-forward position, then I could see him becoming a better version of Boris Diaw. If the Hawks could acquire a center like Marcus Camby (or even Brad Miller), then we could run many of the same sets as today, with Camby/Miller in the same spot as Marvin and Josh and Al staying in the same spot on the floor. The biggest downside would be defensively. While Al is not the shot-blocker that Josh is, he could still provide comparable weakside defensive help. And at various times during the game, Josh will move to PF where he can provide the support he does today. But it mostly comes down to Josh being able to do good things from the high post and resist any urges to shoot the ball. I previously could not see any good from Josh at the 3 but the way Woody is employing him now, makes me think that it could be a good thing for the team (with the right center on board).

Big Ray

March 2nd, 2010
11:19 pm

Cam ,

Taj Gibson is averaging 13.2 ppg and 10.3 rpg in just 29 minutes, in his last 9 games. What are we talking about here?

Tyrus Thomas lost his job, I repeat, lost his job in Chicago for 3 reasons:

1)He has had issues with more than one coach in Chicago. Del Negro is the latest. Part of this I blame on former coaches (Jim Boylan, for one) and GM J.Paxson. I agree with Sam Smith of Chicago: Tyrus was wasted there. But, I also wouldn’t have traded the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas in the first place. Thomas is a well-documented head case up there for a while. Google some articles, there are plenty mentioning this subject. He was inconsistent on both offense and defense. I don’t blame him for everything that happened there, but I don’t cut him slack for all of it either. Players have to take some responsibility. I have nothing against Thomas, but clearly he isn’t easy to coach. Like I said earlier, either Larry Brown will turn him into more than he’s been, or he’ll be in another dog house.

2) Taj Gibson is new. And when he gets to play consistent minutes (moreso now that Thomas is gone), he produces well for a rookie. Chicago is not a losing team, and a head coach of a winning team has no time to play favorites among his players. Especially “still a rookie” head coach. Del Negro is going with whomever he thinks gives him the best chance at winning. Although his injury derailed him to a point, it’s obvious that Del Negro felt he would get more (and more consistent) production from Taj Gibson. Apparently managment feels that way, too. Thomas hasn’t been able to show at any point in his career in Chicago, that he can do significantly more than Gibson is already doing.

3) The Bulls needed to clear cap space so they could make a big splash this summer. It’s one reason why John Salmons is gone, and they like Salmons up there. Thomas is gone now for the same reason. That, and he’s paid more than Gibson, who produces as much as he does. It is what it is.

I don’t have anything against Thomas, and he’s not on the Hawks’ squad. So really, much of this is a moot issue. I can see that you’re a fan, though. I look for him to have better times in Charlotte. He needed a change of scenery.

Big Ray

March 2nd, 2010
11:22 pm

Astro Joe ,

Interesting viewpoints on both the length of coach’s contracts, as well as Josh Smith at the 3. I think you’ve got the former nailed, and I’m sure the latter will be met with heavy resistance, regardless of how plausible it may be. ;)

Cam

March 3rd, 2010
12:50 am

“Taj Gibson is averaging 13.2 ppg and 10.3 rpg in just 29 minutes, in his last 9 games.”

That’s nice and he’s played well recently, albeit against a soft schedule, but Thomas’ job was taken away long before that recent stretch. And honestly, Gibson’s rebounding is that high because Noah’s been hurt. Without Noah, and with Thomas gone, the Bulls rebounding sucks as was more than apparent against the Hawks.

Gibson’s a lunch pail player, and a nice one, but Thomas was at times a difference-maker.

“What are we talking about here?”

I don’t know. I think I was objecting to the claim that Warrick is a better defender than Thomas.

Astro Joe

March 3rd, 2010
8:50 am

Check out Woody on the Two Live Stews from yesterday.

http://www.790thezone.com/instantreplay/Episodes.aspx?PID=1344

Melvin

March 3rd, 2010
10:02 am

Astro,

Thanks for the link. Woody made a good point. The Refs should have called Kidd out of bounds since he made contact with Woody while he was standing out of bounds. Too bad they couldnt use replay to review it b/c that would have been a turnover for the Mavs and who knows what the outcome could have been after that miscalled.

doc

March 3rd, 2010
10:32 am

woody, didnt need to be on the court stumbling back to get out of the way. certain calls are not going to go your way if there is a question. woody, you looked like a rook on that one. have you learned big time coaches dont need to stand on the court?

Melvin

March 3rd, 2010
11:20 am

doc,

good point… LOL

Rod from College Park

March 3rd, 2010
2:52 pm

Astro Joe,

Glad you are realizing that. It’s not ideal, but he can do it. Whatever Marvin does besides free throw shooting, and MAYBE 3 point shooting, Josh can do it better. Josh also has proven that he has the ability to adjust and excel where ever he is on the floor. He is a better ball handler, better rebounder, better assist man, penetrates better, finishes better, defends better, steals better, affects shots better, scores better, can post smaller me better, would space the floor better because you can not leave him open…….

Sautee

March 3rd, 2010
7:18 pm

THAT’S what Horford needs to do against taller centers. Drive right by them from the top of the key.