Archive for April, 2010

In this together

53 wins.

That’s been the answer for any question or challenge in regard to what the Atlanta Hawks tend to do in games. It has worked for 53 wins. Should any of us be surprised at what we saw in game 5, or just disappointed? You would probably get a different answer from fans as you would from players, or coaches for that matter. The problem, of course, is that what has gotten the Hawks to 53 wins in the regular season, does not seem to be getting them to 4 wins in a playoff series. Or maybe I’ve got that backwards. It’s what they’ve managed to overcome for 53 wins that is hurting them now. That “what” seems to be a myriad of things. The usual buzz words are floating around- “energy”, “focus”, “execution”, and a host of others.

Cliches, all of them.

Yet in the midst of our doldrums, we have to remember that the series is not yet over, even if it feels like it is. Not officially, anyway.

Piecing it Together

After winning the first two games, it’s like the Hawks thought they had …

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Odds evened, Hawks return home

Odds were, the Hawks would win this series with somewhat relative ease. Everybody had the odds against the Bucks, and now each odd has been evened, starting with the series itself, now tied at 2 games apiece. Before we go about searching for answers (or offering them, let’s examine what has suddenly gone wrong in the last two games, and where the Bucks have managed to turn a few tables.

- The switch defense can give opponents fits, and teams without good perimeter capability or constant penetration threats can suffer the most when the Hawks are executing the concept to near perfection. However, the Milwauke Bucks torched the defense for better than 50% shooting in two straight games. Nevermind the fact that they are either the worst or second-worst shooting team in the League from the regular season. What gives?

- The Hawks tend to know how to win the “grind it out” games. They can play well enough on both sides of the court to make it happen. However, grinding it out requires …

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Error without comedy

It would be easy to rant and rave about the things that went wrong in game 3. Heck, we did it nearly every game during the regular season. So instead of breaking down what went wrong (did anything go right?), I’ll just chime in with a few observations.

_ I didn’t get to watch the game live, as I had other pressing matters to attend to. Trust me, it looked just as bad on DVR at 1:00 a.m. I got so mad that I forgot to fast forward through the commercials. Or maybe it was just my subconscious, trying to give my ears a break from the sound of Jon Barry’s voice. Hmmmmm…

_ I don’t care what anybody says. Mike Woodson gets a pass on this one. All the way. There is not one single thing he could have done to help this game. His bench stunk it up in the first two games, so what were his options? After a while, he realized that calling timeouts wasn’t working. ESPN had the huddle wired a couple of times, and Woodson was doing his best to encourage his guys. He’s a better man than me. Had …

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Highlight Factory hits the road

There wasn’t much talk of this earlier, and those who did bring it up, did so quietly.

Well, not all of them. Hawks legend Steve Smith decided to go out and a limb and say it out loud. Sweep. Really? Yeah, really. An interesting subject, considering how much it’s been said that the Bucks will prove to be a tough opponent. However, after the first two games, the whispers are turning into open discussion. For more on that, read up on AJC staff writer Ken Sugiura:

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-hawks/steve-smith-predicts-hawks-481165.html

 

Proving a point vs. Having something to prove

Before the Hawks can begin talking sweep or anything like it, they have some work to do.

Unlike last year’s playoffs, there was no letdown for the Hawks in game 2 after winning in game 1. Maybe it was because they didn’t totally and completely blow the Milwaukee out. Maybe it was because Mike Woodson had them prepared and focused. Perhaps it’s a sign of increased maturity. Whatever it was, the …

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Hawks vs Bucks: A foregone conclusion?

Six games, tops. Better yet, five games.

That’s how long it should take the Atlanta Hawks to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Or so we say to ourselves, no? Here are just four reasons why Atlanta should put the quick beat-down Milwaukee:

1) Talent. Although I list this reason first, it is not the first and foremost reason. But it is the most obvious. Going from position to position, the Hawks are simply more talented than the Bucks. It’s part of the reason (but not the whole reason) that the Hawks are the third seed, while the Bucks are the sixth. Subtracting Andrew Bogut from the equation only magnifies this point. There really is not much to say here that shouldn’t be obvious to even the casual eye. Inspect both rosters, and see that the Hawks have not just the edge, but the plateau. Their best player is not as good as our best player. Their second best player is not as good as our second best player, and so on.

2) Experience. There is no …

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50-something winner-ific!

Okay, everybody refresh me on how many wins you predicted the Hawks would get this season.

I hoped for 55 myself, but I can’t say I’m all that disappointed. Oh sure, we could justify probably about 60 wins (or maybe more, you might think) when we think of certain losses during the season. The Hawks still aren’t a great road team, but they are certainly a better one than they were last year. Not only that, but they are a more potent home team, proven with big wins against the Magic and the Lakers. Speaking of the Lakers, if you get too uptight about some of the losses we’ve had, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t….keep in mind how the Lakers have played down the stretch of the season. Want to hear something crazy? The Lakers have only won four more games than the Hawks have. Yes, yes, I know. They play in the Western Conference. The same conference in which dangerous teams like the Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, among others, have suffered massive injury problems. Am I …

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Hawks face ailing Raptors as time runs out

Watching the desperate Chicago Bulls defeat the Cavaliers with Lebron on the bench, I had to wonder if maybe it’s a matter of pressure. The Bulls are trying to make the playoffs. The Hawks are trying to gain the third seed in the playoffs. The Bulls are talking about doing everything they can to stay locked in and get the win. The Hawks are talking about not knowing what went wrong. Surely, it’s the difference in pressure, right?

 

Final Four

This is it. Toronto at home. Visits to Washington and then Milwaukee. The finale at home against Cleveland, who will be playing with Lebron, no doubt. Apparently Mike Brown is scared to deatht that his superstar player will catch whatever Chris Bosh has, and I don’t blame him. After stumbling last year, the Cavs are determined to win it all this time around. So, they’ll sit Lebron, but they will still be very dangerous. How motivated are the Hawks in their final four games? Do they still want that third place seed, or have they given up? …

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Hawks go for 50

Too bad Joe Johnson will be out for two games.

He will have to watch his Hawks hit that “magical” 50 win mark from the bench.  Or will he?

Atlanta travels to Charlotte on Tuesday, and then to Detroit the following day. The last time the Hawks were in either city, they lost. And that was not very long ago.  Subtract Joe Johnson, Atlanta’s best player and team captain, and you have a possible formula for failure. Forty-nine wins says that Atlanta is better than both Charlotte and Detroit, but are they better than both teams one the road, and without Joe?

The Race Continues

The Hawks are up by a game on the Celtics in the standings, a lead that will be tough to maintain, and is too close for any sort of comfort.  To finish the season out, it looks like the Celtics may have the easier time of it. Or do they? Below is what both teams have remaining on their regular season schedules.

 

Boston Celtics :  Knicks (away), Raptors (away), Wizards (home), Bucks (away), Bulls (away), Bucks …

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Hawks fans, can you feel it?

It seems that Philips Arena is going to be the new nightmare for traveling teams in the NBA. Nobody is going to want to come here to play.

It won’t be like Madison Square Garden. More like going to Utah. Or Cleveland. Denver. Even San Antonio or L.A. (Lakers, that is). Owners of a 31 and 7 mark, the Hawks are just one of eight teams who have single digit losses at home this season. Two of these eight teams are but one home loss away from being removed from this exclusive club. A third is just two losses from it. Meanwhile, Atlanta can do no worse this season, than lose its remaining three home games, and finish with 31 wins and 10 losses at Philips Arena. Will that happen? I doubt it. Not with the way this team has played at home. Not with the pride they seem to now have.

Speaking of pride, what of us as Hawks fans? Our team is not the greatest on the road, but neither are they the worst by far. What they are is excellent at home. So can we as fans match, in the way only fans …

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