The win you were waiting for

They did it.

The Hawks finally beat the Orlando Magic.

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

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

The Lesson

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

_ First and foremost, the Hawks learned something they’ve known all along, but did not seem to understand. I think Josh Smith said it best- “We can play with anybody as long as we give a full 48 minutes.” The Hawks have won many a game without giving the full effort all game long, and it has been questioned in the past, whether or not they could sustain such intensity throughout the season. It’s been said that the Hawks must sustain all out efforts for the entirety of the season in order to compete anywhere near a high level. Well, we have seen from teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, and Cavaliers, that sustaining this level of intensity is not only rare, but exceedingly difficult. When was the last time a team played that intensely all season long? Probably not since Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won 72 regular season games in ‘95-’96. Teams just don’t stay focused that long, and many suffer injuries to key players. The Hawks haven’t quite yet got the hang of giving that full effort in every game, but they’ve come a long way in that category, and it’s showing. With 11 games of the regular season remaining, Atlanta is still maintaining a winning trend going 6 and 4 in the last 10 games. To broaden that perspective, Atlanta is 9 and 4 in the month of March, with a 2-game losing streak the only black mark on their record. This is what winning teams do – keep on winning down the stretch.

_ Our bigs can help carry us. No, they should not be left alone to bear the burden of scoring late in games, or when the team can’t seem to buy a shot. But it is an option that the Hawks need to remember, even in the tightest of games. It is an option that shouldn’t be a last resort. If it’s a last resort, chances are that it is already too late. More and more, we are seeing games in which our veteran guards are struggling from the field, as defenses key on them. If you were given part of a boxscore to look at (without the team totals) and saw that Joe Johnson shot 5 for 17 and Jamal Crawford went 4 for 14, would you assume a win or a loss? How about in a game against one of the league’s top teams? There was a time when a loss was guaranteed, if Joe shot like that, even if he went 7 of 7 from the charity stripe. That time is past. The Hawks can win without excellent performances by their top two scorers, and the bigs are one of the main reasons why.

_ This team is more cohesive than we give them credit for on most days. The bench is better than we have believed. Lately, they have been the shot in the arm (or should I say “wing”) that the Hawks have needed. The reserves have come with energy, scoring, defense, you name it. They’ve even given the starters the lead or at least some momentum to work off of. Can you ask for more? What’s important is that both the bench and the starting unit have played off of each other. Things haven’t looked as disjointed as they have in the past. Guys seem to mesh better. All of this has contributed to the Hawks staying close in games where they’ve struggled to score. As one unit ratchets things up, so does the other, and everybody is playing at a high intensity level. When an entire team plays tough, they are very hard to beat.

_ Where does Mike Woodson come into play in all of this? We’ve gushed and glowed over one player after the other, but there is just no way the team is playing like this despite Woodson…is there? Much is made of the switch defense, but here’s a stat for you: in the 13 games the Hawks have played this month, opponents have reached the century mark in scoring just 4 times. Sorry, but 99 points (happened 3 times) just doesn’t count. Is this an accident? Something must be working, even if we don’t understand it. By the way, if anybody here understands just how the switch defense is supposed to work, please explain it to everybody else. We’re confused (or at least I am). On the one hand, I don’t want to see a center matched up on a guard. On the other hand, if that center is Al Horford, and my other option is Mike Bibby, and the player to be guarded is Vince Carter….well….what can I say? Also, there is something to be said for us going in to Al Horford and Josh Smith, late in games. This would not happen without Woodson giving it his blessing. That is not to say that every play call is what he is calling from the bench. I now believe that a lot of what happens on offense is what Woody allows to happen, rather than what he is orchestrating. Then, of course, are the issues of the timeouts, particularly in tight games. Look, unless you are in the huddle, or are able to hear what is going on in the huddle, you don’t know what the play call is, period. We scream about ISO plays, but a team can only take what the defense gives it. Does anybody think that Josh Smith was what Woodson had in mind for the last shot (a jumper) against San Antonio? I doubt it. Do we know for certain why Mike Woodson calls a timeout late in a game for? Could it maybe have to do with the lack of focus the Hawks still show at times? Whatever it is that Woodson has going on, it is working. This team is going to win 50+ games, and you do not do that with a bad coach. If anything, Mike Woodson rises above the “is he a good or bad coach” ranks, and lands in the “is he good enough to go all the way” coaching ranks.

_ It’s not over. Not by a long shot. The Hawks beat the Celtics every time they played them this season, but could they win a playoff series against them? The Hawks beat the Magic last night and upped their home record to second best in the Eastern Conference. But again, what about a playoff series against the Magic? Could they compete like this in a series? Will they? Good teams make adjustments and maintain their focus while doing so. Focus seems to be the biggest issue for the Hawks this season, and the next step for them to take on their path to title contention. Their focus seems to be sharpening lately, but we still don’t know how long they will maintain it. Stay tuned….

 

HAWKS VS. SIXERS

I’ll never forget Mike Woodson talking before the season began. “You don’t want to go the other way”, he said, in reference to team progress. I think we can safely say that the Hawks didn’t “go the other way” in regard to team growth, at least in the regular season. The Philadelphia 76ers are a different story altogether. I wonder if they regret their fake wooing of Josh Smith now? Whatever you may think of Rick Sund, be thankful you don’t have Ed Stefanski. He fired the coach, hired another, spent $82 million on the part-time (and vastly underachieving) Elton Brand, and another $57 million on Andre Iguodala, in an attempt to leap-frog teams like the Atlanta Hawks. Instead, the Sixers regressed to 25 wins (so far) this season and have been soundly spanked by the Hawks by an average of about 14 ppg. No one can blame Iguodala, a jack of all trades who fills the stat sheet nicely. But something tells me Stefanski could be looking for a job this summer. If nothing else, perhaps the Sixers give him another year, as they can at least hope for a nice placement in the NBA draft lottery in June.

Key Matchups

We’ll make this a quick one. Andre Iguodala. Louis Williams. Samuel Dalembert. Those three names, and hardly any others, are the source of headaches for the Hawks. Iguodala does it all – rebounds, dishes out assists, gets steals, and scores. However, he, like most of his teammates, is more scorer than he is shooter. Let him loose in the open court or slash through the lane, and he’ll eat you up. Force him to shoot jumpers, and his 42% on field goals gets him into trouble. Louis Williams is another matter. While not a great shooter, Williams has developed into a better one (46.6%), and is quite speedy. As the Sixers need him to score more than they need him to pass, the point guard element gets taken out of the equation for the most part, and effective ball movement suffers. As a result, the Sixers have a hard time playing as a team. Samuel Dalembert is the last of the triumverate. His length will bother anybody going near the basket, and he gobbles up rebounds at a pretty good rate. However, he can be prone to foul trouble, and gets frustrated easily.

Promising youngsters Thaddeus Young and Mareese Speights have seen their roles fluctuate, stunting their growth. Jason Kapono probably wonders what he did wrong to get sent to basketball hell, and Jrue Holiday looks like anything but a lottery pick with huge upside.

On the Hawks side of the ball, look for Mike Bibby to be solid (if not great), as he continues to hit big shots for Atlanta. Jamal Crawford has had nothing but fun against the Sixers, averaging over 20 points against them. Al Horford will once again be bothered by the long arms of Dalembert, but still be solid (he’s been putting up about 12 and 8 against Philly). Then again, Horford may draw Dalembert away from the basket with that midrange jumper, and if he does, look for him to have a big game. At the same time, if Horford draws Dalembert, look for Josh Smith to get to the rim unimpeded. If both Horford and Smith are on, the Sixers are a cooked goose.

Another chance for the Hawks to jump ahead of the Celtics, if only for a moment. Another chance to maintain that sharpened focus.

111 comments Add your comment

vava74

March 26th, 2010
9:37 pm

Dang! Blog monster in the house. Ray, could you rescue my post?

vava74

March 26th, 2010
9:40 pm

A brief thought:

Al has improved.

Josh has improved.

Craw is better than Flip.

JJ remains JJ.

We have been virtually injury free.

The result: we will probably finish with 3 to 5 wins more than last year when we had a LOT of injuries.

Why?

Melvin

March 26th, 2010
9:40 pm

The Hawks beat the Spurs and Magic then lose to Bucks and Sixers. This team drives me crazy….

vava74

March 26th, 2010
9:51 pm

Several reasons come up:

we have now a higher profile: consequently other teams scout us with more attention and exploit Woody’s thin system:

On offense: exploit the switching defense finding the best match ups, rotate for easy threes, look for
offensive rebounds since ATL’s bigs switch to the perimeter.

On defense: play zone down the line, deny entry passes and wait for bad shooting nights by Craw.

A top Euro ball team could beat the Hawks just like the international national teams beat the USA a few times before the Hawks starte to prepare better and form a team with am OFFENSIVE SYSTEM since the Hawks play like those bad USA teams:

ISO offense with an inability to beat zone defense and bad perimeter defense against teams that rotate the ball and look for the open 3.

vava74

March 26th, 2010
9:52 pm

Melvin,

The Bucks are better coached than us BY FAR. And their roster isnpretty derby now that Bogut is finally playing consistently and with the addition of Salmons.

Astro Joe

March 26th, 2010
9:56 pm

Still not sure how a team that hasn’t been outside the 2nd round can be considered contenders until they actually make it past the 2nd round. And if “talent” is a word defined without other words like urgency, leadership, consistency and maturity”, then I’d suggest that is a hollow and meaningless word when discussing competing for a title. The Thunder need to win 7 of their last 12 to get to 50 wins… please don’t try to tell me that they are contenders for a title this season.

There’s a space between contender and above average team. Just like Joe resides in a place south of LeBron and north of Iguodala, so too do the Hawks live somewhere south of Cavs/Magic and north of Bucks/Bobcats.

Astro Joe

March 26th, 2010
10:00 pm

Dang I’m confused. I say that the Hawks aren’t going to beat the Cavs and Magic and Vava challenges me. Then a few hours later, he says that we can’t beat a good Euro team and the Bucks are better coached. WTF?

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
10:10 pm

Melvin,

Actually, tonight was a good crowd by Sixers standards. No lie. Although it’s funny that Iverson jerseys still were the #1 jersey in the arena…

Astro Joe,

You’re either dense or…no, you’re just dense. A top Euro team could beat us – because they are better coached, not because they have better talent. And yes, the Bucks are better coach – their coach is doing more with less. Are you really so dense that you don’t understand that when vava says we can’t beat those teams, the reason he’s saying it is Woody rather than lack of talent – and that’s the opposite of the reason you’re giving?

Yup, you apparently are that dense.

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
10:12 pm

Still not sure how a team that hasn’t been outside the 2nd round can be considered contenders until they actually make it past the 2nd round.

Well gee, guess the Magic weren’t contenders last year either, huh? Or the Lakers or Celtics a year before that? Get real,

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
10:15 pm

The defense tonight was just awful. The $h!t don’t work.

Astro Joe

March 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

nire, I’m being dense because you’re being stubborn. There is NO practical way that anyone can say in one breath, 50 wins means talent but we’re so poorly coached that a Euro team can beat us. The only conclusion is that the talent is self-managing their way to 50 wins. And we’re supposed to take that as some fact-based conclusion?

How’s this for a shot of reality? Fans see what they want to see. If I choose to wait to see Jamal chuck up a shot, I will be rewarded every game. If someone wants to watch Horford give up a lay-up, they won’t wait long. Want to see Joe take a selfish shot? Keep watching. Anxious to feel justified that Woody makes bad decisions, just don’t change the channel. Need to feel validated that Josh still doesn’t quite get it, get back before the commercials end. Like to laugh at Marvin looking uncoordinated, your pay-off is coming soon.

Fans see what they want to see when watching their team.

If you want to see a talent-rich team capable of winning a title but handicapped by their coach, have at it. And if I choose to see a team that is still on the come and is likely 1-2 years away (and several millions in investment) from being a true contender, ridicule me if you choose.

I won’t change your view of the game and y’all sure as heck won’t change mine.

Big Ray

March 26th, 2010
10:52 pm

Well, that was annoying. We let a team that has no business beating us…well, beat us. Woody keeps saying “This is the NBA, no win is a given.” While this is true, why do we play we did tonight?

A few things that point to us losing:

1)We had 19 turnovers, which is a lot for us. They had 15 with a rookie pg starting and playing 38 minutes.

2) They had 25 assists. We crawled our way to 18 assists. It was embarrassing how much better their ball movement was.

3) We shot 47%, they shot 50%. They have a total of THREE guys on their team who can actually shoot: Jodie Meeks, Louis Williams, and Jason Kapono. In case you were wondering, Iguodala is not a shooter, he’s a corer. Williams didn’t play, Meeks played 3 whole minutes, and Kapono got 14 points off of 5 for 12 shooting. We have no excuse for this, other than really crappy defense.

4)They had 15 steals, we had 5. Seven of their 15 steals were by rookie Jrue Holiday. Again, I’m embarrassed.

5) All else was equal. We couldn’t complain about refs, we went to the line about as much as they did. Rebounding was almost dead even. We made more 3-pointers. Our offense was balanced as far as shot attempts across the board, but it was poorly executed.

We simply failed to play defense worth a damn, and let a 25 win team with a 12-24 home record take us to task. Embarrassing.

Astro Joe

March 26th, 2010
10:54 pm

Imagine this scenario… Hawks meet Cavs in 2nd round. LeBron suffers injury and misses the series (or most of it). hawks win. Meanwhile, the Celtics beat the Magic and we meet the Celtics in ECF. We beat the Celtics.

Now, here’s what I think some will say. “Hakws caught a break because LeBron was hurt and we “own” the Celtics”. It was a fluke. Woody is still trash.

Last year… Orlando beat Celtics without KG. Go on to face Cavs (who they have owned for past few years) in ECF.

Talent? Sure. Lucky? Maybe… probably.

Talent. Is the market price an indicator of talent? Only one Hawk in their top 9 players is in his rookie contract, shouldn’t the market price of this talent be comparable to other “contenders”? Bibby and Marvin have been hugely disappointing this season, 40% of our starters. But we have talent to contend. Al and Josh are having their best 70 games of their careers and we’ve already decided that their current performance provides enough talent to put us in title contention.

50 wins with a brainless coach, another what 5, 10, 15 wins with a talented coach? So with a cheaper roster than the clubs ahead of us (the fact that they spend more on players does not mean that they have more talent though), we could have the best record in the ECF with the right coach? Wow.

Gortat, Bass, Ryan Anderson, Barnes, Reddick and Williams.

Nate, Daniels, Finley, Davis and Rasheed.

Z, Varejao, Hickson, Powe, Moon, West and Gibson.

Zaza, Smith, Evans, Jamal and Teague.

Yeah, talent. 40% under-performing starters, that bench and 50 wins because Joe, Jamal, Josh and Al are just so supremely talented.

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
11:44 pm

First off, your strawman bull$hit is just getting old, AJ. No one called Woody brainless. No one said he was trash. You seem incapable of addressing people’s actual arguments, and instead choose to attack caricatures of those arguments. That’s usually a sign that your arguments aren’t that strong to begin with. And yours aren’t.

Saying that I see what I want to see sounds good, AJ, until you consider the fact that I used to be one of the people at the front defending Woody a couple years back. I argued that he didn’t have the talent around him to do anything but ask JJ to carry the team on his back. My opinion of him has slowly deteriorated since then. I give him credit when he makes good adjustments or when we run a good play out of a timeout. Unfortunately, those times are rare. Too often, the team looks like it’s on autopilot not only for stretches in games or even for a full game, but for several games on end.

Our bench is fine this year. It’s better than Orlando’s was last year, certainly after Nelson’s injury – and by a significant margin, I’d say. Jamal is a 6th Man candidate, Zaza remains one of the top 5 backup centers in the NBA, and Mo is a solid all around player who STARTED for Orlando 2 years ago. Joe Smith was a rotation player for Cleveland the past two years in a row. West and Collins are good situational role players. Teague is raw, but promising. And yet Woody STILL uses the same 8-man rotation that he’s used for 5 years. Don’t you think that an influx of talent should have led to a more balanced rotation? Do you deny that Jamal/JoeS/Teague/Collins are an upgrade over Flip/Solo/Acie/RandMo?

Bibby and Marvin have been hugely disappointing to you. I say they’ve given what should be expected out of the two players whose roles have changed the most since Crawford arrived. After a month of struggling on both ends, Marvin has become our most versatile on-ball defender, and Bibby has his stroke back. Neither has been a liability by any stretch, regardless of what their haters (which includes you, apparently) say. They have done exactly what has been needed from them. And if they’re capable of giving more (and every player is), why might they not be? Could it be that the coach doesn’t always use them in ways that best utilize their talents? Naaaah….

Yes, the Thunder do have the talent to contend in that they could beat any team in the league in a seven game series with the right coaching. Are you kidding? Durant has emerged as possibly the #2 player in the entire league this year (he’s certainly the most impossible player to guard this side of LeBron), and it’s rare that a team with a player of his caliber misses the playoffs. Westbrook is an All-Star caliber PG. Jeff Green is one of the toughest covers in the league for opposing PFs. In any case, Kevin Durant plus a team of undrafted free agents could at least win 40 games with the way Durant has played this year. Durant plus Westbrook, Green, Harden, and Sefolosha (the most underrated defensive player in the league) is a truly dangerous team. As I said, you can’t win 50 games without having the talent to contend.

Do I think they will win a title? No. Do I think the Hawks could? Yes. Because the Hawks DO have more talent than the Thunder. And your bashing of the Hawks’ talent level is just pathetic at this point. The Hawks have more talent than all but 4-5 teams in the league. When you’re in that range, you’re a threat to win the title – with the right coach. Two All-Stars, two coulda/shoulda been All-Stars, two solid starters, and a bench that despite your disparaging is capable of giving quality minutes when called upon – hell yes, we have the talent. But in the playoffs, when you have to beat a team 4 times to advance, tactics and strategy become.

You continually ignore the fact that repeatedly in the past 5 years, teams with equal or lesser talent than the Hawks and with equal or lesser payrolls have made the Finals. Pistons. Heat. Cavs. Magic. None of them paid the luxury tax. None of them had a bench that was something to write home about. All went to the Finals.

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
11:51 pm

There is NO practical way that anyone can say in one breath, 50 wins means talent but we’re so poorly coached that a Euro team can beat us.

So in other words, you think that teams with inferior talent can’t beat teams with superior talent. Ok. I guess we can fire all coaches, then. Sounds like they don’t do anything.

Over the course of an 82 game season where you usually have only a day or two between games and never play a single team more than twice in a row (or 4 times all season), talent usually wins out on any given night. But a well-prepared and sharp coach can get a team to win games that they otherwise would lose. In the playoffs, where you have to play the same team for a best of 7 series, preparation, game planning, and adjustments determine the victor as often – or perhaps even more often – than talent.

niremetal

March 26th, 2010
11:52 pm

I was trying to quote that whole paragraph, not just the one sentence. Ah well.

doc

March 27th, 2010
9:25 am

the loss we were waiting for.

hmmm with switching defenses woody needs to teach hie 6 ft 6in and 6 ft 7 in guards to block out on plays around the basket. both jamal and jj were seriously unaware of what was around them or just plain quit on several plays around the basket to give up easy buckets for guys not much bigger than them. certainly they need to put a body on someone. jamal gave it up at both ends too much last night in his dreary lackluster performance. what he said reflected on himself more than other players.

effort is required for wins in the league, elite teams or not.

niremetal

March 27th, 2010
12:14 pm

Doc, if you think that the number of O-rebs we gave up was mainly the fault of the guards, then I don’t think you were watching the game very carefully. I screamed at Josh and Al to box out about 15 times last night. The main problem was that when Horford or Josh switched onto a perimeter player, each turned to get a jump on the fast break before the rebound was secure multiple times last night – I saw Iguodala sneak around Josh to get a rebound twice in a 3-minute sequence last night, and he got a hand on a couple others that ended up getting tipped to Sixers big men. Jamal did the same thing (he has never shown the slightest interest in rebounding, so that shouldn’t be surprising), but Bibby and JJ actually were boxing out last night. But asking JJ to box out Maurice Speights or Sam Dalembert is going to be a losing proposition on many occasions – it’s not like they were letting Jason Kapono get around them.

doc

March 27th, 2010
1:38 pm

nire, no effort sums it up. jj didnt move his feet or put up any resistance several times then just jogged back down the court. bibby is much tougher than either jamal or jj when it comes to these things.

anyway, the point is related more to the switch and how it exposes us, even against inferior teams that might be better handled by straight up match ups rather than sophisticated switching defenses. maybe even a zone d which requires them to shoot over us if we cant handle it any other way.

sixers are 11 and 1 the last 11 times they have scored over 100 points in a game with the converse true for scoring less than 100. seems the formula was to keep them out of their games especially with two starters out. seems a similar refrain of this club though.

vava74

March 27th, 2010
1:43 pm

nire,

Thank you for your comprehensive posts. You worded perfectly my thoughts.

I would not like to be too presumptuous but I think that the Hawks – USA team analogy I made is also very important.

There is no question that Team USA was always the most talented set of players, but they were not structured and their game play consisted in a series of ISO plays being that the players which got less ISO opportunities ended up playing disinterested bball and either did not hustle or looked to shoot/do their thing whenever they had the opportunity.

I think we something similar to that with the Hawks.

Also, you and the rest of the gang may find interesting – in line with what you just wrote – Charley Rosen’s new piece:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/resourceful-blazers-have-remade-themselves

I am officially placing Astro in the same category I put Truth-Serum: he is either participating in the blogs just to annoy the other people or he is a %&$#! fool.

Either way it is pointless to argue with both of them.

doc

March 27th, 2010
1:58 pm

nire ….. Doc, if you think that the number of O-rebs we gave up was mainly the fault of the guards.

no, that was not my inference at all didnt come close to saying it and not sure why you took that from my statements. the emphasis was on “several plays” which in my mind does not take the largess of “mainly the fault of the guards”. it simply allows easy frigging buckets to the other team because we are out of position. bwaf should realize this by now. seems you do, in your criticisms of woody.

maybe it was the punctuation or lack there of. ;-)

vava74

March 27th, 2010
3:01 pm

doc,

our rebounding issues are directly related to the switching defense.

the switching defense gives us an edge in many games but also puts us in a tight spot in many others.

the basic issue is that Woody has a “system” based on just two strategies: on defense, the switching defense and on offense, an over reliance in ISO play.

this means that the defensive effort has to be 100% or close all the time in order to be effective (which is difficult since it is mentally and physically draining) and

that our main guys (JJ and Craw) must be really clicking on offense in order for us to score enough points (which is also difficult, in particular against better coached teams).

doc

March 27th, 2010
3:14 pm

so vava we agree then?

btw, i wouldnt put AJ in that category; he certainly sticks to his guns like many of us here. i dont remember ever, someone coming back with a, “gee, i see you point and i was dead wrong”, on this blog or any others.funny the guy you criticize often leads his comments with just that. i dont see a blog to be about agreement, either. what fun would that be? even you werent able to say, “gee, doc good point” and embellish from there which you did well. your tone took an instructive one, though a good one. it was about the same as what i said, in fewer words, because i have used many words about this problem for a long time here.

it is just not the nature of the liar’s table. it is just guys shooting sh!t to pass the time, nothing earth shattering, just a way to relate, connect and blow some steam off. id rather do it here than in the real world, eh, blow steam that is? i must say i have had much fun jawing with aj and consider him a friend through it all, truly a friend, as we now go back five or so years.

niremetal

March 27th, 2010
5:05 pm

Vava,

There’ve only been two people around here who resort to racist/race-baiting tactics in their arguments. T-S is one of them, AJ is not. I may get mad at AJ for his mode of argument, but there’s no comparison between setting up strawmen and calling people who disagree with you the “bubba crew.”

Astro Joe

March 27th, 2010
7:19 pm

vava, if you think I am a %&$#! fool, then scroll my brotha, scroll.

Astro Joe

March 27th, 2010
7:53 pm

nire, an upgraded bench, obviously. No denying that. But an upgraded bench does not necessarily equal a championship bench. I understand how my “criticism” of the talent could be construed as a defense for Woody. My criticism of the talent is actually more of a crisiticsm of the ownership.

Any attempt to characterize me should start with my deep felt belief in “follow the money”. I don’t think this team is funded adequately enough to win a title. I’d love a better coach, can we afford one? I’d love a better bench, can we afford one? I’d love a true center that allows Al to move to PF, can we afford a true center that would be worth the risk of moving Smith to SF?

I understand the need to be prudent with Joe’s pending free agency. I’m not in the least bit upset that we’re not (IMO) ready to compete for a title in 2010. I have never once posted anything suggesting that we SHOULD be ready now. I’m patient, likely one of the most patient bloggers around here. I’m the also the one who is on record as saying I’d be satisfied with a 4 year run of 50+ wins (a la Bibby’s Sac Kings). I’m patient AND practical.

But I am NOT a believer that a team that isn’t spending in the top 25% of their peers is going to win a title anytime soon. Maybe after the next CBA, there will be a change in the game’s economics that will invalidate my belief. But as long as teams are able to essentialy trade Antawn Jamison for a financial ledger adjustment, I find it hard to believe that a team with a middling salary can compete for a title. And because I equate salary to talent, I don’t believe that we have the requisite talent to win now.

O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
10:34 pm

@vava,

The Blazers link was a good read. It would be interesting to see how the Hawks would be playing (and what our record would be) if we had suffered injuries like the Rockets or Blazers.

That being said, Truth Serum is on another level, very different from AJ.

@AJ,

I think one example of coaching that may have taken a team over the hump is when Riley took over the Heat from SVG. SVG said he needed a break, but I think the truth was Riley wanted to coach the Heat because he saw the potential in the players, and being a championship coach himself, he knew the difference that coaching makes in the playoffs.

Larry Brown took the Sixers to the NBA finals one year. Besides Iverson, who else was on that team? Were they deep into luxury tax territory? How many all star players did they have?

Another example of coaching is when Larry Brown took the Pistons to the finals and beat a Lakers team that was stacked with 4 Hall of Fame players. LB always insisted that his players play “the right way”, and they bought into his system.

The players bought into LB’s system, and it worked. Maybe our players need to do a better job of buying into Woody’s system, because the s#*t works.

In my opinion, although a team needs a certain level of talent, they also need the right coach to give them that extra push in the playoffs. If Larry Brown was the coach of this Hawks team, I think they would be a serious threat to make the ECF, and have an outside chance of reaching the NBA finals.

doc,

I did see a couple plays where JJ was close to the basket, and he did not even make an effort to get the rebound. So although the switching might leave us out of position, our players (including our guards) did not give the effort to box out, regardless of who they were guarding.

A big part of rebounding is effort, and our players do not make the consistent effort needed to get rebounds. It’s like they are more concerned about getting back on offense, or starting the possible fast break.

Melvin

March 27th, 2010
11:51 pm

Astro,

You would have done better with criticizing Woody instead of the ASG. Now you know Nire is going to come at you with all Guns blazing now…LOL

Vava,

Comparing Astro to Truth Serum is just wrong. Astro is one of the original bloggers at the liars table. Never once has cross the racial line or make personal attacks on this blog. He and I had many disagreements but he’s a stand up guy like Doc said.

Astro Joe

March 27th, 2010
11:53 pm

OB, and which one of those examples do you think the ASG can afford? And if LB were the coach of the Hawks, which 2-3 players would he have forced Sund to trade? If you think he would have kept the current nucleus as is, you’re not paying attention to LB’s history. First, he would have used the media to humiliate 1-2 of them, then he would have benched 1-2 of them and then he would have forced 2-3 of them out the door. All while talking about “playing the right way”.

Telling me that I would do better with a BMW than a Malibu is interesting but not terribly relevant if I’m operating with a $18,000 budget for a new car. Yeah, Pat Riley, Larry Brown and go ahead and add Phil Jackson to your “they took their team to the next level” list. Maserati, Rolls Royce and Maybach.

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
10:04 am

Astro,

The Hawks payroll is closer to the luxury tax threshold than the Magic’s was last year, than the Heat were in ‘06, than the Pistons were in ‘04, and WAY closer than the Sixers were in ‘01. But hey, no need to let the facts get in the way, right?

I actually don’t especially “like” the ASG as an ownership group. What I don’t like is people who complain about their spending habits based on total ignorance about the finances of the NBA. And frankly, you have to be ignorant about it to criticize the ASG’s spending. The Hawks are spending exactly what has been spent by all other teams that were borderline contenders but who had not yet broken through and made a deep playoff run. In the NBA, the cause-and-effect goes “Deep Playoff Run –> Spending luxury tax money” and not the other way around. The only exceptions are the Lakers, Knicks, and Celtics – the three teams whose revenues are sky-high regardless of how many wins they get.

The Hawks are paying Sund more than the league average for GMs, and he replaced someone who was getting paid significantly less than the league average. Since Sund arrived, the Hawks payroll has increased twice. So your whining about the Hawks budget is based on a load crap, just like your defenses of Woody.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
11:47 am

Vava ,

I really don’t mean to pile on, but in no way is Astro Joe anything like Truth Serum. I understand not agreeing with somebody. We all do it, and sometimes we get a little carried away. To be honest, I used to get “off the chain” with AJ back in the day, but I was wrong for the way I did it, and I told him so. We’re trying to have some fun here, so let’s keep it fun. Please. You sound more bitter and angry than anything else lately, and I don’t want to think of you that way. You’ve always been a breath of fresh insight and personality.

Melvin ,

Thank God for your sense of humor. It was getting hot in here…. :lol:

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
12:04 pm

Nire ,

I’m impressed. I didn’t know what the ASG was paying Sund, or how it compares to the salaries of other NBA GMs. So what are they paying him?

Well, this is a change of pace. Not used to afternoon games. I almost forgot when the game was playing…. :)

Astro Joe

March 28th, 2010
12:19 pm

nire, let’s see, the Heat team that won with their superstar (and future HOFer) getting 30 FTAs per game? Magic have the best big man in the game today and likely a HOFer (and they were fortunate with their playoff match-ups). And with 2 HOF players? That Heat team? 76ers? Cute team, HOF coach and player. Pistons? HOF coach and the one team that is the exception to most every rule about championship teams. Is it logical to try and repeat the one anomaly in the last 30 years?

Again, I’m not one who believes a team needs to compete each and every year for a title. I just disagree withthe assessment that we’re talented enough THIS season. I utterly and completely disagree. It would require some extraordinary breaks to go our way.

In the 2nd round, we’d likely have to defeat a team with 2 possible HOFers (Vince and Dwight), the reigning EC champion and the game’s current best big man (and likely 2-time reigning DPOY). In the ECF, we’d have to defeat the likely 2-time reigning MVP, a team that is literally 11-12 deep with legit rotational players (no “practice players” on that squad) and a team that has previous Finals experience.

IMO, talent means the ability to go from option A to option X when the opposing team continues your strategy. We have enough talent to go from option A to maybe option N. Magic? X or Y. Heck, Cavs get to go all the way to Z and start over again with AA, BB and on, and on, and on.

I’m thrilled that you are optimistic about the roster. I’d like to be.

Ray, you know from our own battles, we’re just funning. Debating nonsense over the internet. Until someone tries to take away my bowl of popcorn, it’s all good.

Astro Joe

March 28th, 2010
12:21 pm

:oops: …when the opposing team “counters” your strategy…

O'Brien

March 28th, 2010
12:42 pm

AJ,

If making a trade would make the Hawks better, I would be all for it. And I’m not usually a fan of humiliating someone publicly, but there is also a possibility that it would work.

Josh felt snubbed by not making the all-star game, and there was 2 ways he could have reacted. Fortunately for the Hawks, he used it as motivation. If Josh was humiliated a couple years ago (when we had lots of bad Josh), maybe he would have matured faster.

Maybe Marvin needs to be humiliated in the media to light a fire under him, because he is way too laid back and comfortable. Obviously, there is no way for us to know if it would have worked.

I dont share the opinin that for the Hawks to make a run at the title, they need to be in luxury tax territory. If the GM is creative, and we have the right coach (and the right matchups), it can happen.

So while I give Sund an A+ for the Crawford trade, most of his other moves have been incompletes (more specifically, resigning Marvin, Bibby and ZaZa, because all 3 seems to have regressed, although Bibby seems to be back in form the last few games).

And although Woody is a good coach, I have very little confidence in his ability to make the adjustments in the playoffs regardless of the talent.

Looking forward to the game this afternoon. I think Granger gets 20+ points, but he will take a lot of shots to get it. I look for Marvin to disappear again. And I look for the Hawks to start slow, but turn it on as the game progresses, and eventually run away with it.

What do you guys think will happen in the game?

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
2:47 pm

AJ,

I know.

As for the talent level, I agree. We’re not in the same category as the Magic and Cavs. Even though we may be in the same payroll range. And guess what? I don’t see Mike Brown or Stan Van Gundy as HOF coaches, either. Both teams were luckier in the draft, though I STILL have some draft day issues with former management here, both teams have had better trade and free agency moves. You can see where the money was spent. It is what it is.

Hope we beat the stank off of Indy today….

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
3:38 pm

AJ,

I see your last post said nothing about the Hawks not spending what it takes to win. Instead, you’re back to talent again. That’s your M.O. – when someone points out that you’re talking out of your ass, you change the subject and hope no one notices. I’ve given you my view that the Hawks’ talent level is at least equal to a number of teams that made the conference Finals or NBA Finals in the past few years. So then you started talking about money. Then I pointed out that the Hawks have been spending MORE than teams who have made the conference/NBA Finals in the past years. And so you changed it back to talent again. I guess when you have nothing to back up your bluster but a few different loads of crap, that’s the best you can do.

Ray,

I would not agree that the Cavs have had any better free agent or trade history than we do. The Cavs’ history has consisted of trading for a series of past-their-prime players who were in the last couple years of inflated contracts (Hughes, Wally, Wallace, Shaq). The exception is Mo Williams

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
3:40 pm

*the exception is Mo Williams, and I’d say we have made moves better than that (Bibby and Crawford trades). Basically, other than the drafting of LeBron, the Cavs’ front office moves have been a series of efforts to see what washed up talent fits best with LeBron.

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
4:12 pm

Way to go, Crawford. You’re just asking to have your pocket picked if you just show off your street ball dribbling moves without moving.

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
4:13 pm

That one play aside, though, dude is ballin on the O end…

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
4:25 pm

Josh, just find the point guard after you rebound the ball.

Yes, he’s going to walk it up the court and get into a possibly ineffective half court offense. Sorry, but such is life.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
4:35 pm

Nire,

We’ll probably agree to disagree on the Cavs trade/free agency history. Wallace and Hughes were definitely bad ideas (or at least bad results). Shaq wasn’t an absolutely wonderful idea, but has he hurt the Cavs? Top record in the League says no, and we haven’t seen what he can/will do for them in the playoffs. You left off Jamison, by the way, and didn’t mention the Magic at all.

I don’t think I can even get into my opinion on the Hawks’ free agency/draft without opening a stinky can of worms. Scratch that…..a barrel ….

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
4:39 pm

Second unit looked a lot more crisp out there than the starters did. We’re playing crappy-a$$ defense again, and once again we’re playing 3-on-5 on offense.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
4:45 pm

Maybe we’ll go on a second half run. It would be nice.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

Keep feeding Al. Good things are happening. Keep using JJ as a decoy, so Jamal gets more 1-on-1 opportunities. He’s hot and striking quickly.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

Glad they called a foul. I thought Joe threw up an airball.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

In here by myself today, I see. Oh well….

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
5:18 pm

I guess we finally remembered that this is the team Horford had 24 points/16 rebounds against earlier in the season.

niremetal

March 28th, 2010
6:23 pm

Ray,

Of course I didn’t mention the Magic, because I didn’t disagree with you on that point – and saying “I agree” would have been a rather boring post :) . They did better than us (and far better than the Cavs) in free agency. I wasn’t arguing that we have done better than they did, although really until this past summer (ie AFTER they broke through the second round) their moves in free agency and trades were not overwhelming. Nonetheless, they were solid. People say they paid too much for Rashard, but I disagree – they had enough cap space to sign him outright and (unlike BK with JJ) used that leverage to sign him without giving up anything of value. The Alston move was shrewd, and the signing of Turkoglu paid huge dividends at a bargain price. They were working with same budget we did, and made the most out of it. I can’t say the same about the Hawks.

I honestly forgot about Jamison, but that might be because I’m still pissed that the NBA allowed that trade to happen. It was a great trade on their part. But again, the Cavs’ moves before they broke through to the NBA Finals and got the huge revenues that went with it were atrocious. They bungled Boozer’s free agency horribly, and replaced him the thoroughly mediocre Gooden. Really, except for the two guys they drafted (Ilgauskas and James), not one of their pre-2008 free agent moves did much-to-anything to improve the team. Things opened up a lot when they got the revenues from the ‘07 Finals run that legitimized them as a contender and LeBron as Kobe and Duncan’s rival for “best player in the league.” But even after that, their moves were not awe-inspiring.

Big Ray

March 28th, 2010
6:59 pm

Wheeeee, we won. Why am I not more excited about it?

Good to see our bigs get going and carry a large part of the scoring load. Good to see Mike Bibby get 8 assists. Good to see us at 47 wins with 9 games of the regular season left.

Go Hawks!