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

Cam

March 1st, 2010
2:27 am

If anyone needs sympathy, it’s the Bulls.

Noah won’t be playing tonight and Deng may not play either. Rose will play but likely won’t be 100% after banging knees Saturday in Indiana. It’ll be the 9th game for Chicago in 14 days.

Also, I’d take umbrage with the idea that Warrick is a better defender than Thomas. In fact, I don’t think it’s close. He’s also not the rebounder or shot blocker Thomas is either.

Rose actually misses quite a few layups but makes up for it with a terrific mid-range jumper.

joBjo

March 1st, 2010
6:38 am

will the bench get any PT @ Bulls?

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
7:26 am

Jennings looks like a PG who relies strictly on athletic gifts and not on “IQ”. I’ll never understand why lottery teams draft on potential (like Jennings) and pass up on guys who can contribute “leadership” and production early in their careers (like Ty Lawson). Jennings may be better than Lawson in 2-3 seasons but that’s a lot of potential playoff revenue while you wait for your floor leader to figure out the game. Hopefully, if Teague were given comparable time, he wouldn’t be shooting around 35% in his last few dozen games. And I think Jennings spent the bulk of this game watching Ridnour from the bench… I wonder if Bucks fans were sitting at home yelling for Skiles to play him more?

What happened to Charlie Bell?

Ray, good point on the offense…. I assume “iso by default” means that the players are making adjustments vs. running a play by design? I guess that can work two ways (as I go back to a football analogy). If a QB needs to call an audible, he should. Of course, you hope that the QB knows how to read a defense and that the other players know the audible play that is being called. But if you have several plays tht can work, there is no need to stick to a given play if it appears the defense is prepared to stop you. Iso plays (IMO) are only bad when they become the dominant play over 2-3 minutes. I think they may have been an issue earlier in the season, but even MC, who has been tracking them, seems to only see about 2-3 per game. Assuming that we have the ball at the end of any of the first 3 quarters, that is likely going to account for some of those iso-plays.

Our offense becomes stagnant when we either forget to get the ball to Horford, Horford is out of the game or Horford is failing to convert his FGAs. While I like what Josh is doing this season, I hink Horford’s more consistent half-court offense is more important to the team. Horford has been mostly very good this season but we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit to some “growing pains” associated with his new role in the offense. I’m not yet convinced that we can give him the ball in the “red zone”.

Imagine, just for a second, if the Hawks had hung on in the Bay Area and converted 2-3 possessions against the Dallas zone. We’re probably a handful of possessions away from feeling very, very different about this team.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
7:27 am

Carry-over from yesterday’s blog:

OB, kind of a double-edged sword. Players are good enough to get playing time but aren’t developed enough if someone gets hurt. I guess that means that they are good enough for 12-15 minutes now but nothing beyond that. Well, that may be true for Teague but every other bench player has been around long enough to know what to do. Joe Smith, Zaza and Mo better know what to do if there is an injury… they have all started previously and are not wet behind the ears. The question becomes, are they GOOD enough to keep the ship afloat, not “are they developed”. If Terrapin Joe, Mo and Zaza aren’t developed by now, well…

Back to the “these teams have been hurt” argument… what do you think extra roster expense buys you if not quality depth? Let’s put it this way… if you could simulate a bench vs. bench tournament on NBA Live or NBA 2K or some other video game, who would finish in last place across the Hawks, Celtics, Magic and Cavs (again, bench players only)?

I applaud anyone who thinks that our roster is so good that with the right strategy and right line-up at various points in a game, that they could win a 7 games series against the Magic or Cavs. I ain’t buying it.

Every component of this team is lacking in comparison to the teams ahead of us. Is our best player better than any player on the other 3 teams? Is Woody a better coach? Do we have a higher payroll? Do we have a deeper bench? Old schoolers say it’s a big man’s game… do we have the best big man? New schoolers say it’s a PG’s game, do we have the best PG? I have no delusions of grandeur here. I’m just enjoying a team that is above average, relevant and generally very exciting. I’d be much too frustrated if my expectations were any higher.

The Real Hawk

March 1st, 2010
8:16 am

Does no one see that the agent for Ilgauskas is using the Hawks to jack up the contract he will accept from Cleveland?

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
9:07 am

The Real Hawk, the Cavs can’t offer Z more than the Hawks. I have read a few reports that he is ticked off at the Cavs for trading him in the first place. I think that he may be making them wait (and worry) while he enjoys some days off with his family. With Shaq going down, he can make them sweat… but it’s not a negotiating ploy, more likely a “how dare you trade me, now I’m going to make you worried about signing elsewhere” ploy.

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
9:15 am

Good blog Ray,

I think it will be a tough game later because 4 of our starters played heavy minutes last night. However, the Bulls are banged up, so that might even things out a bit.

Although I don’t agree with some of Woody’s coaching, he has been preaching defense and rebounding from day 1. I don’t know if the players are just tuning him out these days, or they believe they are good enough to outscore opponents, or maybe they think they can turn it on and off when they need to.

But they don’t respond to him like they used to. And I can’t help but wonder if it carries over to the offensive end too. I think he is preaching ball movement and sharing the ball more often than we actually see it.

AJ,

I don’t know what it is about NBA GMs. More often than not, their draft is based on potential (why else would Marvin be the #2 pick), but a lot of times, the coaches and GMs who draft these guys are not around when they realize their potential.

From the other blog,

Our bench might be better than the Celtics, but that’s about it. Depth is an issue, because all year we’ve relied on Crawford. Now that he is struggling after his injury (26-84, 31%) his last 7 games, the games are tighter, and we don’t get much from our bench.

Vets should be able to come in and play their part whenever their number is called, but I still think they should get more consistent PT to keep them ready.

“I’m just enjoying a team that is above average, relevant and generally very exciting. I’d be much too frustrated if my expectations were any higher.”

That’s probably why I get so frustrated, because I see the potential for more.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
9:19 am

Ray,

Josh definitely earned the game ball last night. I’m also proud of Woody for pulling Bibby when he was playing just terribly on both ends. I’m still upset about the final play call of regulation, though – a pure ISO play with no off-ball movement, no screens, and no real effort to create an open look. Everyone in the building knew it would be ISO-Joe, and the Bucks were ready for it.

Doc said on the last blog that Joe shoulda driven the ball to the bucket, but as I said, there isn’t a coach in the league who calls for a drive in that situation because you have to be absolutely hammered in order for the refs to even consider blowing the whistle (and we’ve seen too many games where a player DOES get hammered and no call happens). The answer would have been to run JJ off a screen, set a backscreen for Jamal, or quickly get the ball to the high post and work it inside-out, like the Spurs did back when Duncan was in his prime (today, it’s usually a 2-man game with Manu or TP running a pick-and-roll – another play that we could have tried). Given that the Bucks, the fans, and Alfred E. Neuman all knew it was coming, it was almost inconceivable that the play could have led to an open look, but that’s what the play call was anyway. ARGH!

In other news, I am also puzzled as to why the Hawks looked to Rio instead of Stack, assuming that Stack’s interest in playing here was genuine (and there’s nothing to indicate it wasn’t). The crazy thing is that Mario is actually costing the Hawks the exact same as Stack would have, since the league reimburses teams for 3+ year vets so that they all cost the same as 2-year vets. Only explanation I can think of is that the Hawks figured that energy and hustle in practice is more important than getting an extra scorer off the bench. I think I would have gone with Stack anyway, but as you said, Ray, spilled milk…

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
10:09 am

AJ,

I think MC sees 2-3 isos in the fourth quarter, not for the entire game.

nire,

Also, JJ was 7-21 at that point, and Josh was 7-12. I would have thrown it in to him to either take the shot, or make the good pass he usually does, and get it back to JJ in a better position.

But think about all the last shots the Hawks have taken? They’ve probably been 90% isos just like the one JJ took last night.

And signing Mario should not have stopped the Hawks from signing Stackhouse. Stackhouse is a playoff veteran, who wanted to come here. All reports were that he looked healthy and good in workouts, and he is a guy who if he has to play starter minutes, he could probably contribute.

Since being signed, Mario has played 63 minutes total, including 16 minutes TOTAL for February. What kind of impact can we expect from him if he has to play extended minutes? At least Stackhouse might be able to contribute if needed. And Stackhouse would have given Woody another offensive option.

I’m okay with the Mario signing. I just wish the Hawks would have signed Stackhouse as well.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:26 am

O’B,

There would be no reason at all to sign both Stack and Mario. Woody’s rotation is not going to expand beyond 3.5 wings, and we already have that now with JJ/Jamal/Marvin/Mo. Having an extra wing in case of injury is nice, but unlike some people (read: Melvin), I’m not so down on Mo that I actually think Stackhouse would displace him in the rotation. Mo is a much, much better defender than the current model of Stackhouse, whose skills are mostly limited to scoring. Stack is too small and weak to guard 3s and too slow to guard 2s now.

If we’re filling out the last 3 roster spots given the guys under guaranteed contracts at the beginning of the year, the first spot should have gone to a wing, then a big man, then a backup PG. Signing two wings would have been a waste, especially with Woody as coach. So yeah, it was an either/or thing. I think the Hawks picked the wrong “or” though, unless Stack wasn’t interested in coming to a team where he’d be likely to get many DNP-CDs.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:28 am

(And also, Mo is a more efficient offensive player than Stack, and when you’re the 8th man (Mo’s job), efficiency is more important than volume)

jlewis

March 1st, 2010
11:00 am

Ray

Great points, I disagree with the Hawks not sticking to what they do, some NBA players and coaches are pretty smart, they know how to take away what you want to do by stepping into the passing lanes, etc., and there are only 24 seconds on the shot clock. Also, could it be Jamal is just going back to what he is? He will get more attention now and won’t always face second line defenders anymore, coaches will make adjustments to make sure a better defender is on him when he comes in. As you saw with Milwaukee last night, they played Joe man up, so there was no dish to an open Jamal.

The defense, the reason I believe for that is Jamal is playing more, if you have League Pass and listen to other announcers, when Jamal is in the game the plan is to alway attack him, come on, Kyle Korver in Utah was lighting him up, they had to put Joe on him at the end of the game. For all the heat Marvin takes, he is the key to the defense, Jamal and Bibby are taking his minutes, which is making the defense worse. They cant defend their positions, there is no way your two guard should have to check 3 positions, he is getting worn out.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
11:24 am

Kind of funny to read the Braves blog where fans are irate that Cox has ignored the young, up and coming star pitchers and has named Derek Lowe as the season’s starter. The similarities between Cox and Woody are striking.

Funny, it seems that Joe’s game-tying shot has been lost in the noise.

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
11:28 am

nire,

One reason I like Mario was for practice (not necessarily for PT during games). Guy goes all out all the time, and all the players speak highly of him and his hustle on defense.

As for Stackhouse and the Hawks, he had expressed an interest in coming here. However, once Red went down, he saw that as an opportunity to get more PT there.

That being said, it does look like the Hawks picked the wrong “or”. Unfortunately, that happens often (draft and free agent wise) with our Hawks.

Sund also has to take some blame for not giving Woody a bigger option at the backup SF position.

Daniel

March 1st, 2010
11:30 am

Good blog Ray:

1) I agree that a win is a win, but….

I do see the defensive issues developing; it seems to be a team chemistry issue. I know Woody gets a lot of the heat (some deserved) but at this point in the season a team that has bigger aspirations need to be working together more. That is on the players!!!!

Something is up with Jamal, his slump has lead to this up and down play of late, bottom line.

Astro- I hear your take on Zydrunis. Obviously, he can’t get more from Clevland. But, making them sweat? What’s the point in that? I would think a veteran would not be that petty. I think he is more peeved than just wanting the Cavs to sweat. I am starting to think he is serious about another team. Althougn, maybe he is working on something down the road… like a front office type job or something.

doc

March 1st, 2010
11:57 am

ray, id take stack’s 40% from the three line and put him, jamal, jj, josh and al in to finish games any day. a vet no less, one with the most seniority on the team outside of joe. mario? please such insipid and uninspiring front management. yes as i said on the other blog he would either be buried on the bench like all the other role players or in a suit because he isnt woody’s boy.

the team’s offense is awful to sit through right now, boring and no ball movement. the bucks moved it so well and that is what the good trams do to break zones or defenses of any kind. we forgot how to do it. you dont even have to move that much to do it just move the ball quickly until something opens up. we were lucky to win last night as we were outplayed except in the scorecard by an inferior team.

mighty fine blog guys, a lot of content, thank you all! you too, big gay guy!!! ;-)

doc

March 1st, 2010
12:05 pm

ray as far as josh and the refs. …. his demeanor is better but the call of a foul on him on stack was so bad i could see it from the other side of the arena about halfway up and it was conclusive on the big screen. what gave it away is the ref anticipated contact and actually blew the whistle before the action took place. man officials are awful.

i_am_soulstar

March 1st, 2010
12:23 pm

Great point JLewis, this is why i told my girlfriend she was crazy when she suggested that Jamal start at the 2 should Joe leave this summer. Defense wins games, plain and simple. Even when Joe’s not on offensively, he can still make up for it on the other end with his above average perimeter defense. Like Woody says, those shots aren’t gonna always fall. And if you look at teams that rely on great offensive players with below average defense (Golden State comes to mind), you’ll see why its important to keep in mind.

That being said, that was excellent crunch time defense by Marvin and Mo last night.

I think Ilgauskas is more than likely going back to the Cavs. This whole thing about fielding offers from other teams is just his agent playing it safe so the NBA won’t have any incentive to be suspicious. It’d be great if we could have him, but odds are, it won’t happen. i don’t think he’s gonna let his personal feelings about being traded stop him from returning to the Cavs (unless he’s the spiteful type and we have no idea).

And why, oh why, praytell, did we not sign Stack in the summer. This is not hindsight from now, this is foresight from the summer, when several Hawks fans (myself included), members of the coaching staff, and even some of the Hawks players (Josh Smith) thought he’d be an awesome addition to the ball club.

That one’s gonna keep me up all night every night we lose from here on in.

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

In case you guys missed it from the other blog. This was posted by MC.

“@everyone asking about Stack: i wasn’t here when all that went down but from what i hear Hawks basically thought J Smith would be a better fit than Stack on and off the court. Stack was interested but the Hawks never reached out. again, i wasn’t here, but that’s how i hear it played out”

doc

March 1st, 2010
12:35 pm

nire, the point i was making he made no attempt to shorten his look at the basket and took a very awkward shot at best with the defender right on him. tragically, he made no attempt to create separation between him and salmons. if salmons is that good then get the ball to someone else by driving and dishing or if the space opens up then go to the basket. more than one thing can happen on a drive nire.

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

I share the opinion that if we had to choose between Joe Smith and Stackhouse, Joe Smith is the better fit.

However, the question is why not Stackhouse instead of Othello Hunter?

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
12:57 pm

O’B,

I actually liked the signing of Hunter at the time. My thinking was that we needed a combo forward given our lack of depth at both PF and SF. Of course, it turned out that all our forwards stayed healthy so we never really had a need for O, but it made sense from a depth standpoint (I vacillated over whether I preferred Hunter or Rio coming out of camp).

Speaking of which, it looks like Othello is playing over in the Greek league now. Looks like he did ok in his first game – 8 points on 4-7 shooting and 3 rebs in 14 minutes. The Greek League is one of the top 4 Euro national leagues along with Italy, Spain, and Russia, so it’s good to see he’s getting burn there.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
1:11 pm

In bad news, Gladyr hurt his hand and will miss 1 month. He was having a good rookie year over in the Spanish league before that. Akyol is having a great year in Italy; he’s getting lots of burn in a top-tier overseas league after spending several years stuck at the end of a bench in the lower-quality Turkish league. And Chill, of course, is doing very well over in Athens.

Big Ray

March 1st, 2010
2:53 pm

Nire,

Nothing about Hunter ever suggested to me that he was a combo forward. I knew that was how you felt, but what about his game suggested to you that he could play both spots? His ball-handling? His jumper?

So that’s another former Hawks forward in Greece. Body count is rising…

Big Ray

March 1st, 2010
3:00 pm

Cam ,

I can understand you taking issue with the idea that Hakim Warrick is a better defender than Tyrus Thomas. After all, Thomas has the better stats (blocked shots), right? That part is true. But Thomas is so often in the wrong spot on defense. Warrick is more likely to “stay home” and bother his opponent by staying on him. Thomas wants to get the block, and that’s if he is in the vicinity. Just my opinion though. I feel that Tyrus is a good weak-side defender who doesn’t know what to do on defense when a blocked shot opportunity hasn’t presented itself. That, I am underwhelmed by his rebounding, considering the athleticism that he has.

Here’s the kicker: I don’t think I’ll be able to say this about Warrick vs. Thomas by the end of the season, or by next season. Why? Larry Brown will turn Thomas into a great team defender. Either that, or he will get him shipped out of town because Thomas won’t listen. One or the other…

Big Ray

March 1st, 2010
3:14 pm

Doc ,

You’re enjoying the heck out of that Truth-Serum-ism aren’t you? :lol:

By the way, you nailed it right here: “you dont even have to move that much to do it just move the ball quickly until something opens up.”

Precisely. Until something opens up. That would be the whole key.

Astro Joe ,

By “default”, I mean that we tend to “end up” in an ISO of some sort. In this case, the players aren’t necessarily making adjustments. It’s more like they don’t make adjustments. We’ll share the ball and move around as long as it works. However, if we’re denied this for a possession or three, then we automatically revert to one, maybe two passes, and whomever gets the ball will try a shot. On those nights that Horford goes 3 for 10 or 5 for 12, you’ll see it a lot. We’ll give him the ball, but then the guys will stand around. Horford may find himself in a tough spot, with no very good shot opportunity. But because guys are standing around, he also can’t make a good pass without the risk of turning it over. So what does he do? Try to spring himself for a shot, which often turns out to be a bad one. Then you get the comments about him lacking a go-to move and all that.

Duncan and O’Neal always had go-to moves. But they were/are two of the best at passing out of the post. However, they always had either wide open shooters or cutters to pass it to, as they drew double teams. Al isn’t good enough yet to draw a double team with any sort of consistency, so passing the ball MUST involve movement and spacing by teammates, not standing around. Otherwise, he gets forced into an ISO play, where risking a pass is too often worse than risking a bad shot.

Happens to Josh as well, though his “escapism” passing is helped by his athletic ability. He’s quick and can draw a second defender better than Horford can (we saw this a few times against the Bucks, who couldn’t contain Josh to save their lives), and he knows where his teammates are (standing around). Meanwhile, we will rail on Joe for ball-hogging. But the fact is, few in the league are better at getting shots off in seemingly impossible situations than Joe Johnson. So when he finds himself in an ISO situation, again…with teammates standing around…he has a much better chance at getting a shot off than he does at making an effective pass.

And by effective pass, I mean a pass that is likely to arrive in a teammate’s hands, in a place where said teammate can get off a decent shot. So in Joe’s mind, if your teammates are STANDING AROUND, easily covered by their respective defenders, why pass it when you know you’re the best on the floor at being able to get your shot off? Hence……

The ISO.

Big Ray

March 1st, 2010
3:19 pm

I think it never should have been about “Stackhouse vs. Joe Smith.”

But then, you have to be committed to a 14th roster spot to even begin having that conversation.

On the flip side, there is much merit to saving that roster spot for later in the season, after you watch your team play for the first two thirds of the season. Because then you are liable to know exactly what your team needs down the stretch and into the playoffs. So in this way, it makes little sense to judge Sund harshly for such a move. After all, what if we’re now able to sign a good player who can help?

And while I know this will earn me a flaming, what if we were able to sign “Big Z?” Having not seen such a thing coming, it would make us sound foolish for clamoring for Garrett Siler, Othello Hunter, or even Jerry Stackhouse (though I STIlL would take him in a NY minute, especially over Mario West, who is not even seeing the floor now…why’d we sign him back again?)

But hey. I know Big Z isn’t coming here. My crystal ball said so. Wait….is this thing on?

;)

doc

March 1st, 2010
3:29 pm

ray, i know it is good for about two hits so i am at my limit but yes it was pretty funny and so childish that it was appropriate to use on occasion.

great teams have good ball movement especially if they dont have lebron. the year the C’s won it all that was their mark and what rondo was saying the other day is lacking. they moved the ball and set ray allen up as he moved through screens in delicate patterns and it was fun to watch. us ummm not so much fun to watch and very unimaginative.

funny josh is the guy talking up ball movement not woody, jj or crawford. btw, where is bibby and some leadership comments from him. is he that far gone as a leader? is his ankle the issue?

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
3:32 pm

Ray,

I remember Sekou talking during minicamp about how Othello was running the floor and shooting from midrange much better this summer than last year. I certainly agree with you that I wouldn’t want Othello playing serious minutes at SF, but we’re talking about the 13th man here. What you need is a guy who can fill in at X position if worse comes to worst – ie if 3-4 guys get hurt, have that guy step up. Just look at Portland this year. At various points, they’ve had Miller at SG, Juwan Howard at C (actually, that’s been true most of the year), and Rudy at PG. I don’t think anyone would have pencilled any of those guys as being “combo” players capable of playing those positions, but each was capable of being a warm body at those positions in a crunch.

My view on Othello was that, in a crunch, he could play some mop-up minutes at SF if some combination of Marvin/JJ/Mo got hurt. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would be doable. He seemed quick enough to guard the SF spot, which is 50% of the game. The thing was, I thought an emergency combo forward was our biggest need, and given the options available (ie our training camp crew plus the dregs of free agency), Othello seemed like the best bet. I also said at the time that if he wasn’t capable of providing “warm body” minutes at SF in a crunch, then we should have cut him and kept Rio.

Thauce

March 1st, 2010
4:11 pm

“I actually liked the signing of Hunter at the time.” -Niremental

Do you even watch basketball?

Maybe we should also consider using Collins at the 3, for “mop-up duty”.

Clyde

March 1st, 2010
5:21 pm

FIRE WOODY

I told yall Horford wasn’t gonna be able to hold his own on the defensive end when we drafted him.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
6:55 pm

And you were wrong.

O'Brien

March 1st, 2010
7:13 pm

Clyde,

You probably also thought Sean Williams would receive more PT

vava74

March 1st, 2010
7:56 pm

Astro,

Who is the winningest (titles) HC?

What is the basis of his success?

The answer to these two questions contains enough info to conclude you are not right about coaching.

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
7:58 pm

My biggest problem with ISO’s is this: If you give the ball to a single player (not just Joe) and have them go one-on-one (or one-on-two) then you are not only allowing the opponent to basically rest 2 to 3 players, but you are NOT involving the rest of the team. Every basketball player alive wants to be involved in the game. If you set a couple of screens then the screeners feel like they were involved in helping the team score. Do you think anybody but the shooter feels that way after ISO’s?

I can see it IF you are exploiting a mismatch, but too much of it and the other players start getting antsy. And apparently rolling their eyes.

I said in the offseason that the lack of touches by the frontcourt was a potential chemistry problem. The more games we lose, and the more ISO’s we run, the closer that reality looms.

vava74

March 1st, 2010
8:03 pm

Phil Jackson.

The triangle offense, which implies tremendous amounts of ball movement and carefully orchestrated player positioning.

It was this offense that gave MJ and Kobe their rings. Not ISO heavy offenses.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
8:22 pm

Vava, ISO is NOT our primary offense. Y’all are like a dog with a bone. All of those missed shots by Marvin so far weren’t on iso plays.

The other thing is that Joe averages close to 5 assist per game as a Hawk so he is not dominating the ball. It;s oaky to hate the play, just don’t misrepresent the frequency of it’s utilization.

Oh yeah, I’d love to see Phil execute the triangle without iso dominating players like Michael, Shaq and Kobe. How did Jim Cleamons do running the triangle without those guys?

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
8:23 pm

Iso Josh in the post.

Astro Joe

March 1st, 2010
8:31 pm

Vava, was that a triangle play when MJ pushed off on Byron Russell in the last Finals appearance, because it looked a whole lot like iso-MJ to win that game.

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
8:36 pm

Lovely spin and teardrop by Joe.

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
8:45 pm

The bench is holding their own so far.

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
8:52 pm

So far, ALL of our assists have come from the frontcourt.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
9:05 pm

Yeah, it’s role reversal night, Sautee. Backcourt can’t buy an assist but is shooting a higher percentage than the frontcourt. Topsy turvy day.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
9:09 pm

And the frontcourt has more shot attempts than the backcourt, which isn’t surprising since shooting percentages are volume-correlated. But hey, I definitely like this twist…

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
9:12 pm

I guess when you have a 15 point lead, it’s odd to complain, BUT:

There were two different times in the 1st half that we had two on one breakaways and instead of playing solid and scoring, we threw bad lob passes, one by Joe and one by Mario (though Mario was fighting the clock).

I just HATE wasted possessions. Even with a goodly lead.

Melvin

March 1st, 2010
9:43 pm

Why did Mo powerdrive his own head into the floor. I mean, he could have broken his own fall on that play….

Sautee

March 1st, 2010
9:44 pm

It’s almost unfathomable that Josh actually had a ZERO rebound game last year.

This is certainly a different Josh.

Melvin

March 1st, 2010
9:47 pm

Oh my, a second half sighting from Teague. Did Woody cut his eyebrows again…

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:02 pm

This is Josh at his finest tonight. Dude’s been beastin’ all year, especially the last couple weeks, and ESPECIALLY tonight.

niremetal

March 1st, 2010
10:05 pm

LOL @ Melvin…