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 Hawks, they still had that game. Two turnovers, back-to-back, did them in. What of Wade? Sure, he was hot. But not hot enough. What about the crowd? They were noisy enough, but the Hawks kept shutting them down.

For every Heat basket, there was a Crawford basket, a Horford rebound, a Smith defensive play, something. The Heat made it close, riding the one-man superstar wave known as Dwyane Wade. But they weren’t close enough until the Hawks tried to force passes into the teeth of the defense on consecutive possessions. Until the Hawks quit capitalizing on offensive rebounds. After that, loose balls didn’t bounce Atlanta’s way. Defensive rotations went horribly wrong. Shots clanged off the rim. The looks on the faces of the Hawks players became desperate, and not the kind of desperation that breeds ultimate survival. It was the desperation of a team that knew itself to be beaten.

Having said that, it’s much better for the Hawks to be delayed from getting win #41, than it is to learn the hard way in the playoffs, right? That game had more than a bit of a playoff feel to it. It was intense. Back and forth things went, with neither team looking like it was about to give in. I was glued to my seat on the couch, unable to pull myself away for the usual in-game quick hits on the blog. Then it all went to pieces in a matter of seconds. How does a team that is so good at taking care of the ball DO something like this in a tight game? What happened? Where did the seemingly sudden lack of focus come from? Was it a lack of focus, or something else? This pointed to something that the Hawks may want to think on. It’s not how few turnovers you have in a game. It’s when those turnovers happen. It’s not how many shots you hit in the game. It’s when you hit those shots. Let’s examine that closer by taking two of the team’s key players from that loss. Josh Smith had 5 turnovers. He’s had that many before, even in decent wins. What hurt was that two of them happened when the game was tight, one of which helped set off a domino effect that led to the Hawks’ demise. Am I blaming him for the loss? No, but he did contribute to it, along with some bad shooting.  Then there is Joe Johnson. It’s easy to complain about an 8 for 23 shooting performance. But Joe was 5 for 8 in the first half. He was doing fine before shooting 3 for 15 in the second half, including several 4th quarter misses. Now, had that been reversed, could we really complain? What if Joe had gone 3 for 15 in the first half, then gone 5 for 8 in the second half? Might we be talking about a different conclusion to the game? Possibly, but blaming him for the loss is as silly as blaming Josh or any one person. To note, there have been several subpar shooting games for Joe, in which he did come back and shoot much better in the second half or the 4th quarter of a game, including several where such a performance delivered a win.

At the same time, we can’t ignore what mistakes do for the other team. Is there anything worse than a star player being on the top of his game, and getting the foul calls? Seems like the answer would be “no”, right? Well, there is something worse. It’s when you add a second, or even a third player to the mix. It’s when that second or third guy gains some confidence and begins to perform and produce better than usual. Better than he has been all game. Better than you expected. For the Heat, that guy was Michael Beasley. When the Hawks began turning the ball over and missing defensive rotations, it allowed Beasley to get good looks at the basket. And when he hit them, his confidence soared. All of the sudden, neither he nor Wade could be stopped or contained. Up until that point, Wade’s supporting cast couldn’t provide enough support. He was in a battle by himself, and despite herculean efforts, he was losing. Take note Hawks. When you have the other guys shut down, KEEP THEM SHUT DOWN.

But it still stands. The Hawks should now know how a few mistakes can be so costly. In the playoffs, it’s a game lost. Maybe even a loss of homecourt advantage, if the situation is right. Or, as in the case with Michael Beasley, you give a dangerous player some confidence and momentum, which can come back to bite you throughout the rest of the series. Better to learn this in March, rather than late April.

 

HAWKS VS KNICKS

Speaking of learning experiences….the Knicks have provided the Hawks with a couple this season, beating them twice in the Highlight Factory. While the Knicks own this season’s series 2 to 1, it was that one loss to the Hawks that happened in Madison Square Garden. Can the Hawks even things up by winning there again? While they’re at it, the Hawks also have an opportunity to take that road record north of .500 again. Winning in New York sets them up for a bit of momentum…or a crash. If they beat the Knicks, then even a loss to the Wizards on thursday only drops them back to a dead-even road record. However, a loss puts more pressure on the contest in Washington, as a second consecutive loss means not only a three game losing streak, but being 2 games under .500. While it’s never a good time for a tail spin, this late in the season is one of the worst times. And let’s not forget about that #3 seed. Boston has retaken the spot for the time being. Time to get it back!

No More Nate

The good news is that the little fella no longer graces a Knicks uniform, so he won’t be lurking on the bench, waiting to destroy Atlanta’s perimeter defense. The bad news is that he now wears Celtics green, and we’ll be seeing him again. But no sense borrowing trouble until it’s time. While “Krypto-Nate” won’t be in the house, there is this cat named Tracy McGrady who now plays for the Knicks. McGrady isn’t the same guy who used to blow up teams for 30 or more anytime he chose, but he’s no pushover, either. Meanwhile, rookie Toney Douglas is also MIA, and the Knicks are playing with a fairly short rotation. The Hawks would be hard-pressed to find a better setup. But that’s just it, is this game a setup? New York just lost to Toronto (who is playing well), and New Jersey (who blew them out). They know they can play with the Hawks, as long as the Hawks let them in the game.

Go Big!

Is there a better team to tee off on in the post? David Lee is a player, but the next best thing down low is Al Harrington. Both guys will produce in the form of points and rebounds, but they have no chance against Al Horford and Josh Smith. So, the Hawks should go in to them until the Knicks collapse the defense in the paint. When that happens, the two of them can make the Knicks pay with their passes out of the post to the perimeter shooters and/or cutters. Easy gameplan, right? Uh…..maybe….

The DREADED “Z” Word….

While some of us are envisioning double doubles for our frontcourt, the Knicks are having the same daydream. Only for them, it’s an outright nightmare. So you know what Mike D’Antoni is going to do. That’s right, employ the Zone Defense. It’s like Atlanta just loses its natural born mind when that happens. Here is another golden opportunity for the Hawks to practice beating this defensive ploy, because they are SURE to see it in the playoffs, as many of you out there in blog land have noted! So what will Mike Woodson and the Hawks do when this happens? Shoot a pile of “appetizing jumpers” and hope they go in? Or make the extra pass, send cutters through the middle, and penetrate by any means necessary?

The Hawks have to learn to finish games in the strictest sense of the word. No better opportunity to practice that, then against a much weaker team.

140 comments Add your comment

doc

March 8th, 2010
3:06 am

cant resist …..first

vava74

March 8th, 2010
6:55 am

We failed because we had key players tired.

They were tired because Woody exhausted them against GS and tightened the rotation against MIA, in particular during the second half.

It still puzzles me why Woody doesn’t go big when we face a team playing undermanned in the middle.

MIA was left with Magloire, Anthony and Haslem (and Beasley). Why didn’t we go big against this line up?

Or at least, why didn’t Woody keep up with the bigger line up in the 4th with Marvin in? Joe should have gotten a breather – since he was/is sick.

Marvin was not playing particularly well BUT he was boxing out and rebounding, something we lacked to end the game.

lameexcuse

March 8th, 2010
8:21 am

Looked like Marvin was hurt. Any word?

O'Brien

March 8th, 2010
9:00 am

Ray,

It is better to find out now than in the playoffs. But what if it’s the same mistakes we’ve made before? It’s like deja vu all over again.

Didn’t Miami play some zone? Didn’t the Mavericks play some zone? Didn’t we lose earlier to the Knicks when they played some zone? We still haven’t figured out how to overcome the zone defense.

We have seen Wade go off against us before (in last year’s playoffs, Woody ignored his assistants when they suggested we double team Wade). I know he goes off on a lot of teams, but I would have liked to see a defensive strategy that forces him to give up the ball more.

And once again, our starters played basically the entire fourth quarter (on the second night of a back to back). I feel like this has happened a lot recently. If he was not hurt, where was Joe Smith the second half (he had 8 pts, 2 rebs in 7 minutes in the first half)? Inconsistent (second half) use of the bench by Woody, again.

I dont want to blow this loss out of proportion, because the Heat also beat the Lakers a few nights earlier, while this was a back to back for us, and JJ might still be under the weather. I just feel like we’ve lost games like this too often. How many losses does it take for us to learn?

When the game gets tight (and jump shots are not falling), we lose focus, or have a silly turnover, or miss a defensive rotation, or take bad shots. We need to fix it.

And in terms of offense, this is the 12th game this season where the Hawks have scored 19 points or less in the 4th quarter. Our record in those games is 2-10. So even though we average a lot of points, we’ve struggled in the fourth quarter (especially against playoff teams, so what can we expect in the playoffs)?

Hawks need to beat the Knicks to get back on track, because if we lose, the Wizards game would be a must win. And the Wizards gave Boston all they could handle (in Boston) last night, leading by double digits midway through the 4th before blowing it.

I look for tonight’s game to be one of those high scoring games for the Hawks, and I think we blow the Knicks out.

doc

March 8th, 2010
10:21 am

ray, knicks are a lottery team now playing for position there rather than in the standings is my guess. i think before we project our total wins for the season we need to evaluate what teams have truly laid down and rolled over to get a better take on what to expect. any loss to one of those type teams suggest how fatigued this team is. if they cant keep it up against those types then they are running on empty and need the juices flowing to bring their a-game.

there is no way to consider either of these teams beating us right now no matter if it is home or away. these should be a lock. it is also the type of team marvin better show up for like he did against a few lack luster teams only to falter. is it woody’s pep talk or quality of opposition?

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
11:13 am

Doc,

Agreed but the Knicks do not have a 1st round pick this year. I’m sure they probably planning their summer vacations but some of those guys will be FA (TMac,Lee,Harrington) so I expect them to bring their A-game b/c they will be looking for a contract this summer.

OB & Vava,

Agreed. I think the Hawks lost to the Heat b/c of fatigue. I think the meltdown in the 4th was due to tired legs. I pointed out during the clock delay at the beginning of the 4th that Woody should rest Josh and Joe to start the qtr. It wasn’t a coincidence to me that Joe/Josh was unable to execute successfully during crunch time in the 4th. I could see the fatigue starting settled in around the middle of the 4th as guys were taking plays off and making costly turnovers. Even Miami coach knew that DWade couldn’t play the entire qtr as he was on the bench to start the 4th. Yep, Woody was taking to school by a 2nd year coach. I know that most coaches like to stick to their game plan but Woody is one of the most stubborn coaches I have every seen in any sport. He does not deviated from his game plan at all. I can’t think of a single game that I saw him coach in the last 3 years where he made an in-game adjustment, scheme or personnel wise. No Plan-B Woody (NPBW).

doc

March 8th, 2010
11:22 am

melvin, thanks for the correction. now as to the a game losing to nets? maybe it will be about individual play rather than team ball that will be their downfall. just as bad a situation is my guess.

doc

March 8th, 2010
11:54 am

interesting read on what is going on in the laker locker room. sound familiar?

http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/03/07/gasol-has-inside-perspective-on-lakers-recent-woes/

i_am_soulstar

March 8th, 2010
12:06 pm

JJ hurt the team with his shots in the 4th quarter. And I don’t just say that to say it. You could see it on his face that he was frustrated with getting his shot and that shot not falling in the 4th. But what kills me is if you miss 3 or 4 in a row, don’t take more difficult shots. If you got it going, then fine. But if you’re cold, recognize that, put pride aside, and keep the ball moving for the good of the team, especially if there’s someone else on yopur team that can’t miss (Jamal Crawford).

And Bibby over Marvin in the 4th? What was that about? Marvin could have really made the difference with his D, and this isn’t hindsight, this was foresight with 8 minutes left and me wondering why in the world Marvin is on the bench.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2010
12:39 pm

Melvin,

I think Woody’s mindset is to play his starters (or at least 4 of them) for the entire fourth quarter. It did not work against Phoenix, it did not work against GS, and it did not work against Miami. And I’m not sure if it will work in the playoffs.

Woody needs to have a better pulse on this team. He needs to realize when guys have it, and when they dont. He needs to realize which plays are working, and which ones are not. He takes too long to make adjustments (if any), but he is always able to point out what went wrong after the game.

Somebody made the comparison of Bobby Cox and Woody (maybe it was AJ), and they do share some similarites. I hope I’m wrong, but I think another similarity will be thay they will be good regular season coaches, but struggle in the playoffs, because every decision gets magnified.

i_am_soulstar,

Check out doc’s link. It’s a good read. The interesting part to me was:

““Kobe is a great player, the best offensive player out there … but at the same time, we need to find some balance with our interior game, develop it a little more, moving the ball and changing sides,”

Gasol said gingerly, knowing he was treading on sacred territory by questioning Bryant and the offense of coach Phil Jackson. “We need to get focused on that a little more, to find balance, to find some flow.”

doc

March 8th, 2010
1:07 pm

o’b that is exactly what turned my eye, along with gasol saying he believes the game is to be played from the inside out and he is good at finding open players a good post up player. i just about left the rest of the article out to quote what you did but found some of the other comments very close to what we say here, or at least folks not just grinding their own agenda and speaking rationally. well almost rational as being at the liars table means from the get go, you are not rational. ;-)

Astro Joe

March 8th, 2010
1:10 pm

KevinA on the other blog mentioned that Horford and Smith are 2.3 in FGAs since the ASG… so maybe that balance has started. At the same time, the zone is what is stopping the low-post game with Horford and Josh. Teams aren’t using that defense to stop Joe, Jamal and Bibby from shooting, they are using it because of all of the points in the paint. It is also effective because our defense has not been great lately… hard to set-up a zone defense after you have missed a shot and the hawks have rebounded… make a bucket and suddenly, a zone becomes much easier to install. So part of defating a zone needs to be to eother defend better or at least push the ball upcourt after made baskets. Not to neccessarily shoot the ball but just to pressure the opposing team to react as the zone requires all 5 defenders to get back.

I missed the end of the Heat game, were those late game turnovers committed because they deviated from the iso-sets at the end of the game?

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
1:52 pm

Astro,

Not that I recall. The turnovers by Josh and Crawford came from deflected passes (although seem like both guys were trying to tread the needle). But I still attribute the meltdown to tired legs. Like someone said earlier, Marvin did not play in the 4th. Joe Smith was perfect in the 1st half and did not stiff the court in the 2nd half (although he got hit in the nose in the 1st half).

OB,
I don’t follow baseball, so I’m unaware of Cox coaching style. You make a good point about Woody wanting to play the starters the entire 4th. This is unusual b/c I don’t see any other coach using this technique. I know Woody’s mentor/ex-boss Larry Brown has a tight rotation but he does rotate his guys in the 2nd half. I don’t understand Woody strategy with the short rotation. It doesn’t help develop players and it’s a major wear and tear on his main guys. For a guy who has been associated with the league as long as he has, I would like to hear him explain his philosophy player rotation b/c all I see is a few guys being overplayed while the others guys are unprepared when call upon.

doc

March 8th, 2010
2:17 pm

o’b i know i made that comparison of cox and woody but AJ may have made it as well as we are frequently on the same page …. right AJ….. heh heh ;-)

doc

March 8th, 2010
2:27 pm

btw, that was my take on the post season prospects for the post season as well O’B. i admire what cox has done but as far as managing the game there have been three better at least, since he came in now managing the dodgers, the tigers and the cardinals. an argument would be given to the managers of the twins and angels as well. maybe cox isnt even in the top five of todays managers in my opinion. i doubt he would slide beyond top ten but players dont quit on him and love to play for him and that sounds like woody to me. both struggle with in game decisions.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2010
2:42 pm

Melvin,

Part of Cox’s coaching style is he sticks with his regular season guys no matter how bad they’re playing. And during the playoffs, if a starter is struggling (pitcher or hitter), Cox will stick with him way too long, even though he has a reliever he can bring in, or a pinch hitter. And Cox always seems to be late with his adjustments in the playoffs.

But yeah, most coaches rest their star players at the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th. But not Woody, he expects his guys to play most of the minutes during the first 3 quarters, and then turn around and play the entire 4th quarter, while still being energetic and able to execute.

If Woody wants to play them for the entire fourth quarter, then he should give them more breaks during the first 3 quarters, so they will have more energy down the stretch.

Tired legs lead to missed shots, slow defensive rotations, lazy passes, and it can hamper your decision making.

Astro Joe

March 8th, 2010
3:36 pm

doc, yep, uyou and I agree on that one. Cox was recently quoted as saying that he kept playing Schaefer despite his troubles and that in hindsight, it was likely a mistake. I posted the qoute over here and asked “who does this sound like”?

Of course, the other side of that coin is that Cox has built a fiercely lowyal following amongst his players because he treats them like grown men, always expects views them with optimism (even when they aqre stinking up the joint) and maintains an even temperment across the long, long season.

No doubt, Woody needs to find a way to rest his finishers. Jamal often plays around 15-18 straight minutes in each half as he often enters in the 1st/3rd quarter and leaves at the end of the half. But honestly, how many minutes will the top 5-6 players on each team will average during the playoffs? I’m guessing a number that is much closer to 38-40 than 32-34 (excluding blowouts).

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
6:26 pm

Where the heck is ARIOSE. I missed that dude at the liar’s table… Big Ray, we may need to send out APB on him. Sir-Link-A-Lot aka SalimFan where are you?????

joBjo

March 8th, 2010
7:04 pm

tonite I want Bib to run the offense and hit 3’s. Smoove, you hit the boards and play D and go to the bucket. Marvin hit your shots and play d and hit the boards. Al keep shooting. Joe you just be Joe. Craw go for 50!

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
7:17 pm

I am soulstar ,

I could see JJ’s frustration as well. And I can certainly understand the idea of “well, 4 or 5 misses in a row is a reason to stop shooting.” However, JJ is a scorer. And we still needed for him to score.

To me, it’s not necessarily that he needs to stop shooting, particularly if others aren’t making shots, either. It’s that he needs to find a way to keep scoring when his shots aren’t falling. There’s only one way to do it: get to the line. And Joe’s absolute favorite shot (the jumpshot) isn’t a way to do that, unless he’s going to do what Paul Pierce does. Pierce sticks with the jumpshot as well. JJ tries to create space so he can get the shot off. Pierce tries to create contact, so he can get to the line. THE LINE. It’s the only place you can go to shoot, and be certain that you’re wide open from a decent distance. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Now before everybody starts piling in on how JJ doesn’t get calls, I understand that. But take two things into consideration:

1. How many times JJ goes to the basket.

2. How many times JJ tries to create contact. You don’t have to go to the rim to get it, either. I have zero love for Paul Pierce, but the guy knows how to create contact by simply duping a defender into jumping into him (or at least looking like it) when he goes for a jumper.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
7:23 pm

Astro Joe ,

I find it amusing that you would ask if the turnovers in the Miami game came from deviating from ISO sets. Gee whiz, I wonder where you were going with that one…

Doc ,

Never bet on things like that. Madison Square Garden is still a basketball Mecca, and losing there is never good. The Knicks don’t care about the lottery nearly as much as they do this summer’s free agency. If the Hawks think this is a lock for a win, then they’ll get beat. If this was a throw away year for the Knicks, then why are we down 2 to 1 on the season series?

Melvin ,

I think Ariose is pretty busy with school right now. However, I’ll try to let him know his blog mates are inquiring after him, and see if I can coax him back to the wonderful world of canniblo…er…blogging…

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
7:30 pm

Doc ,

Great link to the Lakers drama, that was some good reading. What? Kobe’s not perfect? Say it ain’t so…I think we figured that one out some time ago, and while we’re having false epiphanies, it would seem that even a HOF coach and his perfect offense can have issues. Never heard of the concept around here, or at least some would have you think that nobody around here does.

Of course, that’s not the first thing I think of when and/or if the Hawks lose a game they should have won, or a playoff series, for that matter. Nor have I lost sight of the fact that we are not competing for a championship yet, much less for consecutive years. I find no joy in such articles, as they are information on a team that I do not cheer for, but I suppose if you have “Hawks, employee #2″ tattooed on your butt, then you will rejoice in the idea that arguably the game’s top player is just as human as the next guy in the league. As if you needed proof…

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
8:06 pm

Josh playing Point Forward….LOL

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
8:39 pm

Doesn’t look to me like NY’s laying down, Doc

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
9:36 pm

This looks worse and worse. And clearly bad defense leads to bad offense. The question is, what has happened to the defense? They were better than this last year, and they’ve had another season to learn the switch defense.

And don’t even try blaming this all on Jamal Crawford’s presence. If you do, you’re opening the door for someone else to shoulder the blame…and he will, in the end…

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
9:59 pm

Horford nearly bailed us out.

Can’t wait to hear the sermon on “bouncing back”, because I haven’t seen us “bounce back” in a while now. Even the recent wins have come with caveats for the most part.

O'Brien

March 8th, 2010
10:06 pm

Ray,

I wonder what can the Hawks learn from this loss that they havent learned all year?

We lost 3 games to the Knicks this year. Unacceptable.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
10:10 pm

O’brien ,

Good question. I was hoping that this wasn’t the type of lesson they would be learning tonight, but it appears that my fears were very real…

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
10:12 pm

I rather take a lucky win over lesson learn loss any day…

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
10:13 pm

And to “bounce back”, what will the Hawks have to do? Beating Washington won’t cut it, by itself.

Meanwhile, I see a few Hawks Haters have become embarrassed of themselves on MC’s blog. They’ve changed their names. Hilarious.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
10:13 pm

Melvin ,

Absent the lucky win, you have to take something from the loss. A lesson learned, I would hope. But my hope is running thin.

Big Ray

March 8th, 2010
10:16 pm

I do not like what I see from this team, or this coaching staff. The defense has gotten progressively worse. The offense has gotten progressively predictable, stagnant when faced with certain defenses, and uncontrolled altogether when in tight situations. Progressively, I say. Why?

We’ll see what happens in Washington before I spout what I want to say next. Or, I may not wait. Stay tuned…

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
10:24 pm

Ray,
I’m just so sick with it right now… These guys don’t look like they are learning anything. These losses look like ground hogs day. SOS- same old same… Offense becomes stagnant and guys are gasping for air as Woody decides to play certain guys for the entire 2nd half. Like I said previously, Woody is too stubborn to try a new wrinkle. He prefers to stay with the same thing that works 60-70% of the time.

Melvin

March 8th, 2010
10:32 pm

This team needs/needed a shake up. That why I wish would had added a player at the trade deadline….

I don’t think the Hawks will catch Orlando now. They better hope the Celtics falter down the stretch in order to capture the 3rd spot… Heck, what am I thinking, they need to focus on staying in the 4th spot…

vava74

March 8th, 2010
11:11 pm

Marvin had no role in our loss. He played defense, boxed put and hustled.

His shot was off but he had no responsibility on the loss. As soon a he got in for Bibby in the 4th we improved our game to the point of being point blank from a win.

Woody has maxed out his ability and is Noe riding the backs of the players.

We have a good and solid group which is not correctly aligned. There is no logic or consistency in our rotations.

Why bring Bibby back when we were being abused by NY’s back court?

And the switching defense? Does it take a lot of brain to realize that when a team is hot from 3 point land and has quick guards we cannot rely on the switching defense? F**K!!! Any retarded can see that we are constantly getting torched from 3 point land on account of the switching d.

Anyone remotely talented from outside has a chance for a career day against us and when we face guys that are known to be dangerous from the outside we are bound to be torched:

practically all the Magic perimeter players had multiple treys against us, JR Smith drilled 6 or 7, Curry ditto two times, CJ Watson and Ellis also had a few, Galinari had an almost career night, Kidd drilled at will, Jeff Green hurt us as well from the outside along with Durant, Harrington scored 28 points during a first half, Decquan Cook had a field day, Nate exploded in and out, Varejao(!) scored from 3 point land, Rudy in Atlanta almost gave the win to Portland with a series of uncontested treys, Peja looked young and healthy again … From scrubs to stars, almost everyone has a field day against us…

YOU SIMPLY CANNOT USE THE SWITCHING DEFENSE ALL THE TIME AND IN PARTICULAR WHEN THE OPPOSING TEAM IS STARTING TO GET HOT FROM THE OUTSIDE.

YOU NEED TO MIX IT UP.

I will not even dwell too much on the offense. I think Woody is not using JJ properly and is undermining his skills. It’s his task to spare him for the last minutes and reserve both the energy and the random design of the ISO for the last minutes instead of featuring it from the tip off.

By the time that we need JJ to bail us out (or try to) he is tired and the defense is already perfectly addapted to his play. It gets less effective as the minutes pass for both reasons.

Just think about it: even a fairly average defender (individually) or defense (collectively) starts to pick up signs and moves along the game and adapt to JJ’s ISO game. It’s only natural.

for whom the bell tolls

March 9th, 2010
3:47 am

The bell tolls for he who speaketh these words and leaneth on his own understanding which is nil.

“But what I’m telling you guys is that if you guys will just consistently do what we’re asking you to do on defense, we’ll win games. I don’t give a shit about the offense; you guys can score more than enough points to win games. The offense isn’t the problem. But you have to get stops on defense, and if you’ll listen to what we’re telling you, I promise you’ll get stops. The shit works, okay? The shit works, but you guys just have to have the pride and the heart to buy into it and do what we’re asking you to do every time down the court.”

O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
8:40 am

Hawks should not have lost this game. Doesn’t Woody realize that the switching defense does not work all the time (especially against teams with good perimeter shooters)? He needs to be able to adjust. Amd what’s up with the players not giving the effort on D?

Maybe Woody needs to talk to Marvin, Bibby and ZaZa (who were all resigned by Sund this past offseason) every week, because they seem to have gone back in their shell. Marvin and ZaZa are still young, and they might turn it around. But Bibby is old and slow, and we still have him for 2 more years after this one.

The good news is that the Hawks play up to their competition, and they play down to their competition, so I expect a better showing in the playoffs, because I think they will be more focused then.

I’m starting to wonder how much of our problems are fatigue related. It’s been a long season, and guys have played a lot of minutes. Is it starting to catch up to them where they dont have the energy and focus needed to keep their defensive intensity up? Could fatigue be contributing to our inability to make shots in the 4th?

niremetal

March 9th, 2010
9:46 am

All wins and losses in basketball are team wins and losses, but last night’s loss was the epitome of a team loss. Down the stretch, the Hawks stopped doing the things that had worked well for them earlier, and kept doing the things that weren’t working. D’Antoni had exploited the switching defense all game long (how many times did our PG end up covering Gallinari or Lee?), but we stuck with it down the stretch. We had not been shooting well from the perimeter all game long, but kept shooting jumpers late in the game. In a three possession sequence, Joe took a contested deep 3, Josh took a long jumper, and Josh took a contested running 9-foot jumper after trying to create something off the dribble – and none of those are things that were working.

The Knicks are undersized and soft in their interior D, which we had exploited all game long by pounding the ball inside. On the other hand, everyone on the floor for them at any given time can knock down jumpers, which they had done all game. So why did our late game strategies seem to bear no relation to the Knicks’ well-known strengths and weaknesses?

This wasn’t even a matter of D’Antoni out-generaling Woody. D’Antoni didn’t even have to make adjustments because the Hawks never made a big enough run to put the Knicks away. That’s the most frustrating thing – a vastly less talented team than ours won without ever having to tweak their gameplan.

vava74

March 9th, 2010
10:30 am

nire,

what you say in your post is a very simple depiction of our situation and it speaks volumes of woody’s inefficiency as a coach.

d’antoni, who is no genius, did not even had to do too much to win the game.

woody had to do (simple) adjustments but didn’t.

O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
11:29 am

Lets face it. Woody is who he is. And he will win or lose coaching the only way he knows how. Preaching defense and rebounding, switching every game every time every player, and ISOs.

No adjustments, and little bench utilization unless he has bench players who are capable of starting for other teams. Which is interesting, because wasn’t our bench supposed to be a strength? Didnt our players and Woody publicly admmire the veterans on our bench, and how good it feels to have capable backups?

I wanted to get you guys thoughts on the JJ comments from espn dailydime.

‘If a certain someone, like maybe this certain guy in Cleveland, accepted a max offer from the Knicks and wanted Johnson as a sidekick, Johnson would be willing to sign for less than the maximum.

“I’ll sacrifice,” Johnson said.

OK, Joe. Then what would be the best-case scenario? “My number one choice? I don’t really know,” Johnson said. “I do not know what LeBron’s going to do.”

I think JJ could put up HUGE numbers in D’Antoni’s system, especially if the Knicks also get Amare or LeBron (or Bosh). But is that good enough to leave the Hawks (who should be a perennial top 4 team in the East) to play for a team that will be probably be competing for spots 5-8?

niremetal

March 9th, 2010
12:05 pm

The Knicks will not be competing just for 5-8 if they land JJ + LeBron or JJ + Bosh. I said awhile back that the Hawks might have to do more than just offer JJ the most money to keep him here; they might have to offer him his best shot at a title. And to be honest, without a deadeye 20ppg runningmate, he might not have that here. Our best hope might be to try and convince Bosh to come here, which would necessitate convincing Toronto to accept a sign-and-trade to make the salaries work. To do that, we would probably have to give up some combo of Crawford(expiring)/Smoove/Horford, because Toronto almost certainly wouldn’t want to take on the contracts of anyone else we have. And as much as I love them both (my b’day was last week; my girlfriend got me an autographed 8×10 of Horford as a gift, to go alongside my existing ones of JJ and Josh), we couldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on that deal. Chris Bosh is a franchise player, and the best offensive big man in the game today. We become the East’s frontrunners if we have both Bosh and JJ.

I love the Hawks’ roster right now, and with the perfect coach and perfect system they might be able to win a title. But we don’t have the perfect coach and system, and we aren’t going to get it anytime soon. So we might need to make a big move to keep JJ, or else consign ourselves to losing him and going back on the bullet train to mediocrity.

O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
1:07 pm

I think the coach of the Hawks will also influence JJ’s decision. I wonder if he will give a ringing endorsement to Woody?

I look forward to this offseason, and it will be interesting to see what happens after LeBron makes his move.

Melvin

March 9th, 2010
3:52 pm

If JJ decides to leave this summer, I think the Hawsk need to change directions in philosophy. Don’t resign Woody. Build around Josh and AL. Try to off load Bibby (good luck) and Marvin. I would like to see them pursue someone like Rudy Gay maybe a S&T package around Marvin. At least Memphis will get some value in return instead of letting the Knicks, Nets or Clips sign him for nothing in return. Also acquire a more dynamic PG like Devin Harris and finalize a deal with Chills either trade or resign… Just my thoughts no matter how realistic they may seem to others…

O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
4:17 pm

Melvin,

If JJ leaves this summer, look for the Hawks to insert Crawford into the starting lineup, and use the money they have available to add a couple bench players. And if Woody is resigned, look for more iso Jamals to replace the isoJo.

However, depending on where JJ goes, maybe the Hawks could work out a sign and trade too (eg, David Lee and piece). I’m with AJ though. If the Hawks resign JJ, I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade Crawford.

Sund will be evaluating Woody at the end of the year, and I hope the ASG will evaluate Sund. Trading for Crawford was great, but resigning Marvin, Bibby and ZaZa is not looking so good (especially if they dont show up in the playoffs).

I just dont understand why Sund gave Bibby that 3rd year. It would be nice to trade for Devin Harris or Darren Collison (the irony is that Woody would probably start Collison, but 50 games ago, I doubt if Collison would make it off Woody’s bench), but their effectiveness will also depend on who the HC is.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2010
4:17 pm

Ob said, No adjustments, and little bench utilization unless he has bench players who are capable of starting for other teams.

So aren’t you focused on Teague? Because every other bench member has started at some point for another team.

Evans, Joe Smith and Zaza don’t need to grow, learn how to start, play extended time to figure it out nor any of that stuff. They just need to perform. And thankfully, they have improved over the past 4-5 games but each struggled for the majority of this season.

Take a look at the play-by-play of the last two minutes of last night’s game. Y’all wanted someone other than Joe taking the shots at the end of of a tight game. Well, there you have it.

http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/playbyplay?gameId=300308018&period=4

Melvin

March 9th, 2010
4:34 pm

Astro,

It was your Team leader who missed the game tying free throw so dont act like he was an incidence bystander in the lost…

Melvin

March 9th, 2010
4:34 pm

It was your Team leader who missed the game tying free throw so don’t act like he was an innocent bystander in the lost.

O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
6:31 pm

Astro,

None of our bench players (except for Crawford) would be starters at this point in their career.

The last 3 games, Josh played 45, 43 and 40 minutes, while Joe Smith has not played the last 6 quarters (and played 7 minutes the last 3 games combined). Sure, Mo Evans gets minutes, but they’re mostly as the backup SF. And we know about Teague.

My point is I dont think Woody does a good job of utilizing his bench effectiveley. How many games have we seen where 4 starters play the entire 4th quarter, only to falter down the stretch?

I’m not just talking about Teague getting minutes, I’m talking about the bench as a whole.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2010
7:14 pm

Melvin, but it was YOUR team MVP who missed 4 shots in the last 2 minutes.

Sautee

March 9th, 2010
7:55 pm

I am completely comfortable with Josh or Al taking shots late in the game. It’s the ONLY way they will grow, win or lose. And there’s no denying that this will be THEIR team in the near future.