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 it all in the bag. Only, that doesn’t make sense when considering how they’ve played on the road this year. They proved they could lose in anybody’s arena, at any time. So they came out flat and disinterested for the most part in game 3, and got a royal spanking for their efforts (or lack thereof). Then came game 4, where they remembered to bring the energy and effort, but forgot execution. Fast forward to game 5, and the execution is there, but not for the entire game, much less when it counted most.

Atlanta just cannot seem to bring the total game all at once. In the regular season, a 3 game losing streak isn’t all that bad. In the regular season, you have time to bounce back. The playoffs are different. Lose three games, and you are on the brink. Lose three in a row and you are all but finished. Only the most mentally tough teams seem to be able to manage this, and even then, not many of them do. Are the Hawks that tough? A big question, and one that may already have the inevitable answer. Only one thing is certain in this series right now, and that would be that the Milwaukee Bucks’ toughness can’t be questioned. Down 0-2, the Bucks stormed back and took the fight right to the Hawks’ doorfront. Then they kicked the door down. Now the fight goes back on the road, in front of a raucous crowd that will cheer every good Bucks play, and jeer every Hawks gaffe. Oh, and they’ll probably have some very special signs made up for Josh Smith.

 

Against all Odds

Remember when this was supposed to be Milwaukee, what with the loss of center Andrew Bogut? The shoe is now on the other foot. Now it’s Atlanta that is trying to beat the odds. The odds that they can win on the road. That they can come from behind, late in a playoff series. They they can play the total game from start to finish.

You would think that an inspiring road win (if it happens) may lead to a triumphant return home, where the Hawks could close things out and head to the second round. But even if that does happen, will it be all that triumphant? Will the Hawks be the better for it? Or will they be tired, disillusioned, and ready prey for the Orlando Magic, possibly even succumbing to a second straight round 2 sweep? Maybe we’re just entertaining dark thoughts, rather than showing faith in our team, as Bucks fans showed faith in theirs (ok, maybe it’s just me with the dark thoughts here).

How about the team? What would their perspective be? Do they have enough moxie, enough heart, to want vengeance? Surely they want to prove that capturing the third seed in the playoffs was more about what they earned and gained, rather than what the Boston Celtics lost. Clearly they would want to show that they are indeed improved, and that 53 regular season wins was no aberration. Having missed the opportunity to do this in games 3, 4, and 5, the Hawks now find themselves with all of this and more on the line in game 6.

A tough lesson before moving on, or a swan song of a supposed bird of prey? Which do we get to see on Friday?

Whichever it is, the Hawks are in this together. Maligned coach, soon-to-be free agent star, and all.

 

 

232 comments Add your comment

O'Brien

April 30th, 2010
7:02 am

With Sekou putting Woody on blast, I wonder where Ando stands on the matter.

Ray,

Great post on MC’s blog. You play how you practice, especially when you’ve been playing in the same system for so long (Josh – 6 years, Marvin, JJ and ZaZa – 5 years, Bibby and Al – 3years).

Melvin,

Carlisle flip-flopped. And he is getting blasted for it.

Kidd has played horrible this series. He averaged 8 pts, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 9-28 from 3 (14-46 overall), but still played 41 mpg. Last night, the Mavs were down big. They bring in Beaubois (their rookie G, drafted #26), and he gave them a spark (16 pts in 21 minutes, and he had the second highest +/- on the team), and helped the Mavs make a run to get back close.

But in the fourth, Carlisle does not play Beaubois until the 2:44 mark in the fourth quarter. Geez. Whats wrong with these coaches? The rookie helps your team make a run, and you hardly give him any PT in the fourth.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
9:39 am

OB,

My post was during the 3rd qtr comeback. I was shock to see the rookie not playing in the 4th as well. I heard one of the announcers make the same observation.

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
10:17 am

Ando, there’s $100 toll to re-enter these blogs. I assume that you’ve spent the past few months wrapping pennies and cleaning windshields to re-pay your debt. Right?

Melvin, Mavs have lost in the first round as a #1 seed and as a #2 seed. I kind of dubt that Mavs fans are feeling particularly great about this current 3-4 year playoff stretch. And last time I checked, the Hawks still have a chnace to advance to the 2nd round… not so much for the Mavs.

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
10:25 am

Then again, the Mavs were playing the Spurs, a perennial contender that is not missing any rotation players. The Hawks are playing the Bucks, a team that hadn’t posted a winning record in 7 years and is missing its two best players.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
10:41 am

Interesting point of view on Joe (not) going to the Bulls from yahoo sports…

“the two most-discussed targets are Atlanta’s do-it-all wing Joe Johnson and Toronto big Chris Bosh.

Chicago radio guys ceaselessly talk up Joe Johnson, I don’t know how Nick Friedell suffers these loons, and you get a lot of Johnson talk on the chat boards and ICQ logs. And as nice as Joe’s stats are this season, you also have to understand the sheer amount of minutes he plays and how much he has the ball in his hands. I’m not calling him selfish, but I should point out he has more chances to put together nice box-score stats than just about any other player in this league outside of Cleveland.

And when you factor in all those possessions that are used up, pace, minutes and play relative to the rest of the league, he finishes out at a 19.3 PER. Which is good, but hardly the work of a franchise player. And some Bulls fans have pointed out — including one Real GM message board poster that I cannot locate right now but will surely be credited when I find his posts — Johnson’s stats at age 28 scarily resemble Jalen Rose’s stats at the same age, the year before Chicago traded for him.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/The-Chicago-Bulls-Gone-Til-November;_ylt=AkzlgvDoTznzXPLFYbqSqse8vLYF?urn=nba,237694

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
10:44 am

Nire,

I told Astro similiar things last night… He’s ducking and weaving…LOL

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
10:47 am

Astro,

You forgot to mention that the Mavs were in the finals in 2006 along with those stretch of playoffs letdowns.

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
11:00 am

Kelly Dwyer absolutely despises the Hawks, Melvin. Nothing new there…

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
11:01 am

Melin, yes, and since then? I don;t know guys, seems like we’re still in it as a #3 seed and they lost as a #2 seed. But I guess that doesn;t matter… still being in it. Because we’re playing college ball where style points count I guess.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
11:02 am

Astro,

I just hope we are still in it after this weekend….

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
11:04 am

They lost to the fully-healthy Spurs, Astro. We’re 1 game away from losing to the depleted Bucks. Are you really so disingenuous that you can’t admit that the Hawks should have had an easier time handling these Bucks than the Mavs did the Spurs?

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

nire, we’re operating under two different assumptions. Losing a series to the Bucks is clearly worse than the Mavs losing a series to the Spurs… but in case uyou haven’t noticed…WE HAVEN’T LOST THE SERIES YET!!!!

Can we hold the funeral after the death or must we do it while the patient is on life supprt? The Mavs, they’re DEAD. The Hawks… NOT. Is that up for debate at 12:07 PM EST on Friday, April 30?

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
12:41 pm

We’re in exactly the same place that the Mavs were in 24 hours ago, Astro. The difference is that we are in the same place while facing a team far inferior to our own in terms of both talent and experience.

I haven’t rung the funeral bells yet. But unless you’re one of those people who thinks that it’s bad karma to write a will or take out a life insurance policy, I don’t see the problem with discussing what a disaster it would be if the Hawks do lose the series.

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
1:19 pm

nire, I obviously can’t stop anyone from discussing all the gloom and doom associated with the Hawks. have at it and enjoy.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
1:28 pm

Well, I hope it won’t be a death at the funeral tonight…ok, ok, i couldn’t resist.

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
1:41 pm

The Hawks aren’t guaranteed anything beyond their next 48 minutes of play, and neither is Woodson, whose contract ends the moment the Hawks’ season does. But if Woodson is going out — and after three straight losses in their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the rumblings about his departure are stronger than ever — he will go out his way.

Facing a close-out situation in Game 6 Friday night on the Bucks’ home floor, Woodson insists he will stay the course. There will be no major change in the Hawks’ defensive approach, no wrinkles in what they do on offense or in how they plan to deal with a team that has snatched the momentum in this series from the higher-seeded Hawks.

http://www.nba.com/2010/news/features/sekou_smith/04/30/woodson/

That last sentence…oy…

Daniel

April 30th, 2010
2:13 pm

Just like all the regular bloggers on here, I am depressed, disgusted, disappointed, and really have nothing of value to contribute. no one could see this coming (no clyde or jeje or whatever, I don’t believe you.) Dark days in Atlanta indeed.

I hold out hope, please, please, don’t make us fans out to be fools yet again!!!!

O'Brien

April 30th, 2010
2:20 pm

Thanks for the link nire. Another interesting point to me was “Like Woodson, Hawks’ captain and four-time All-Star Joe Johnson will be a free agent this summer, too. While there is no indication that his fate is tied to Woodson’s, there is little chance one will return without the other.

Woodson’s first contract was up three years ago, after he guided the Hawks to their first playoff appearance in 11 years. Johnson was the one player that spoke out in support of his coach before Woodson was rewarded with a two-year extension”.

Personally, I would love to see JJ come back, but I wouldnt mind seeing a new HC, who hopefully will have some new ideas (offensively and defensively).

Melvin,

If you’re the Bulls, and you have to choose between Bosh and JJ, who are you taking?

I’m taking JJ. I like Bosh, but what has he done for Toronto? I think JJ and Rose would make one of the best backcourts in the league, and they still have Noah, Deng and Gibson who are young front-court players.

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
2:35 pm

I think Bosh is overrated. A lot closer to SAR than KG in terms of impact (IMO).

Regarding Sekou’s article… we’ve seen this before in other team sports. If there aren’t many options that have been practiced and executed during 87 previous games, is it really a good idea to try to install a new wrinkle in 48 hours? Also, if you did want to offer a new wrinkle, exactly what would be logical to share with the media prior to the game? Would you even say “we have a secret in store for the Bucks?” Why? You only need to give the players confidence, not your fan base.

And yes, being a one-trick pony on defense is clearly the result of poor coaching and game-planning. But it makes no sense to try and resolve that in 48 hours… especially with a group of players who evidently haven’t shown attention to detail.

niremetal

April 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

Fair point to a degree, Astro. But sticking with something that clearly isn’t working is a recipe for disaster in the playoffs, where you have to play the same team 4-7 times in a row. I’m not calling for a huge change. Just maybe something like “show a trap on Jennings off screens instead of outright switching.” Just something to give them a different look. Hopefully he’s cooking something up like that, but if not….well, I have a feeling we’ll see more of Jennings breaking down Zaza and Al tonight.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
3:00 pm

OB,

Don’t put me on the spot like that. I’m just reporting the news. However, I’m not a big Bosh fan. He’s too soft for my liking. But the yahoo guy did have a point, can Joe and Rose work in the backcourt together b/c both seem to need the ball in their hands and Joe is older than Bosh. The Bulls dont have a low post scorer and i think finding a good big that cant get you 20/10 is harder than finding a 20pt scorer on the perimeter. Heck, do you really need an all-star SG next to Rose or just a guy who could compliment him???

Astro Joe

April 30th, 2010
4:04 pm

nire, I don’t disagree. I expect some wrinkle, but frankly, there is no good reason to share any such strategy with the media in advance of the game. At least my pea-brain can’t think of any good reason to disclose such info.

HB Ando

April 30th, 2010
6:08 pm

Classic Joe: you defiantly refused to up your action from $50 to $100. Begged you to. So here, now, you pretend it’s $100. Too funny! Circuitous Joe at his finest!

Based on your math, the Hawks need to win twice to take the series. Ha ha!

I’m sure you have a nugget of wisdom to reference from your never-ending stories from “the life and times of a middle (almost, maybe) manager, in corporate America”. How the writers/creators of “The Office” were able to construct they’re well-known sit com, without your prodigious insight and experience on the front lines is beyond me.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
7:16 pm

i dont like the fact that Bennett Salvatore is calling our game.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
7:38 pm

Another qtr the Hawks failed to score 20pts…

Sautee

April 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

Melvin,

At least the D was pretty solid.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
8:03 pm

Hawks offense is painful to watch.

Sautee

April 30th, 2010
8:05 pm

Too much iso. Terrible spacing.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
8:05 pm

Sautee,

with 2mins remaining in the 2nd qtr and Hawks have not broke 30pts, make that 2 str8 qtrs where they havent scored 20pts….. Should we still reference that they were in the top 5 or whatever in the regular season in scoring or scoring efficient..

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
8:11 pm

Sautee,

At least the Hawks broke 30pts as they finished the half with 31pts… SMH

Sautee

April 30th, 2010
8:14 pm

Melvin,

It’s like watching a train wreck in super slo-mo.

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
8:16 pm

I missed the first half. Can somebody tell me if both teams are playing excelent defense or the offense is sucking hugely?

Sautee

April 30th, 2010
8:19 pm

Kiki,

We’re playing good D. But we have been VERY careless with the ball (8 turnovers already). And no ball movement, just a LOT of ISO.

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
8:23 pm

Thanks Sautee. I don’t know what is happening to this team.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
8:24 pm

Kiki,

Just forget about the 1st half, it was terrible. Luckily we are only down by 3. If the Hawks can play D like they did in the 2nd half and find some offense, they could win this game.

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
8:41 pm

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
8:53 pm

Nice to see the Hawks put together a run in this 3rd qtr…

MannyT

April 30th, 2010
8:53 pm

DEER IN HEADLIGHTS.

STEP ON GAS!

BWAF

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:02 pm

Praying against a typical 4th Q meltdown.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
9:02 pm

Mo Cheeks. Now that’s my vote for Woody replacement.

vava74

April 30th, 2010
9:06 pm

didn’t catch the first half. thought that the game was 8pm.

good for me. now, will we witness one of the most staggering choke jobs ever?

glad that the bucks are doing their master choke act but, can we beat them at that game?

will we prove our dominance at choking by losing a 15 point advantage in the 4th?

I honestly think we can… let’s all shout: “yes we can! yes we can! yes we can”

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:08 pm

JJ keeps missing. Pass the ball please!!

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:12 pm

Horford came to win.

vava74

April 30th, 2010
9:14 pm

against this small line up we only needed to do this: Horford in the high post to draw Thomas out, Marvin and Josh doing baseline cuts and trying to get good low post positioning or easy lay ups.

instead we pounded the ball and had JJ take horrible shots… fortunately Jamal seems to have finally shaken his jitters off…

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:20 pm

Sorry, JJ is NOT a max player. He’s an all-star.

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
9:21 pm

Damn these Hawks make things hard…

Melvin

April 30th, 2010
9:22 pm

Take Bibby out. They are attacking him on defense.

doc

April 30th, 2010
9:26 pm

damn are we letting them back in the game?

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:30 pm

Well doc, JJ is letting them back in the game with his forced shots.

Kiki

April 30th, 2010
9:35 pm