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

vava74

May 2nd, 2010
5:41 am

Well, Mike Brown is no actual wonder BUT he did make an in-game adjustment yesterday putting Parker on Rondo at half time.

That changed the game quite a bit.

Usually Woody starts with “a concept” and either wins or loses the game sticking with it until the end.

Any eventual (very rare) adjustments happen between games, not within them.

O'Brien

May 2nd, 2010
9:22 am

You also don’t know which bucks team will show up. After all, they are being led by a rookie PG on the road for game 7, and I think the fans will be rocking (especially the second half).

I am looking for a better shooting game from JJ (at least 45% FG ), and I’m predicting a good overall game, where he gives us 25, 5 and 5.

Big pressure game for woody and jj. If we lose, chances are woody is not resigned. And If JJ has a bad game and we lose, then more people will be wondering if he is deserving of a Max contract.

Vava,

I remember early in the series last year Wade was lighting us up. And one of the assistants suggested we double Wade. Woody refused.

Which was a big reason why Wade averaged almost 30 a game, and we had to go to a game 7.

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
10:32 am

Nire,

I know you have shown on numerous occasions how the Hawks are not as cheap as folks make them out to be but my question to you is why do you think the Hawks have the cheap stigma? Case in point, below is a quote from an article in the Boston Globe website.

“The ownership group then hired Sund, who has a history of running teams on limited budgets”

http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/articles/2010/05/02/how_now_brown_its_a_familiar_refrain/?page=3

MannyT

May 2nd, 2010
10:59 am

@Melvin–That article also mentioned Rudy Gay as a potential replacement for Joe if he left. I think one of their sources has been mind altered. I’d be shocked if Memphis let him walk as a restricted free agent. I doubt we have the assets to do a sign & trade with them either.

@O’Brien & Ray–If you were Mark Jackson, would you take a drop in visibility to be an assistant coach? Even if the money is comparable, his odds of getting fired are much lower as a TV analyst. I think he waits for his opportunity to get the head job or just stays on TV with Van Gundy.

…and if we need a minor bulletin board thing for today and next week thank the backup center.

BWAF

Kiki

May 2nd, 2010
11:05 am

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
11:34 am

Melvin,

That article has so many loads of crap that it’s tough to know where to begin. MannyT hit on one. Another is that the Pistons that Sund ran most certainly did not have a limited payroll. Sund does have experience running teams on a budget, but he also has experience running high-payroll teams. Also, the article says that if JJ walks, the Hawks would be under the cap and could make a run at Rudy Gay, which is just wrong. Anyway, the article is pretty devoid of sources, which is a signal that most of it is the author’s speculation.

I’m gonna go off on a tangent here. There are always plenty of people out in the world willing to feed reporters stories that damage the image of people they don’t like. One strong signal that a reporter or columnist is getting their info from a source that isn’t an “insider” is if the reporter cites his source as “a source familiar with the team,” “a source close to the team,” “a source familiar with the situation,” or some other similarly vague description that doesn’t tell you anything useful about the source’s organizational position. When they don’t cite a source at all and instead just say “there are rumors that X is happening,” you can almost bank on it being speculation not based on anything concrete.

Having done some tours in the world of journalism and politics, I can tell you that it’s sadly common, and not at all limited to sports. It’s just as prevalent in entertainment and politics. Reporters are driven by a desire to get read and seen, and they know that most people won’t notice how often they are wrong as much as how often they are right. Their “source” might not even have malicious or misleading intent. Quick story. A few years ago, I was a volunteer for a Senate candidate’s campaign. I had zero access to the candidate himself, and I certainly wasn’t privy to inside campaign information. I was talking to an acquaintance (I wouldn’t say “friend”) of mine who was a freelance political writer one day, and I mentioned that I suspected that the candidate would drop out of the race in a week or two if his poll numbers didn’t improve. To my shock, I read an article by this acquaintance a few days later, citing “a source familiar with [X candidate]’s campaign,” and was directly quoted. Like word for word. I was furious, both because the acquaintance gave me no signal that he was speaking to me in his capacity as a journalist, and because the way he cited me misleadingly indicated that I actually knew something. That was one of the reasons I ended up leaving the political scene for good.

My rule of thumb is: Unless they tell you something about the source’s position relative to the parties involved (for example, “a senior member of the candidate’s campaign staff” or “a source involved in the negotiations”), chances are that what you are reading is someone’s opinion, prediction, or straight-up BS rather than reliable info.

Here’s my conspiracy theory. A lot of the “ASG is cheap” articles and rumors first appear in the Boston Globe. Remember the gem last year about the Hawks dangling Marvin Williams in a S&T for cash? Another appeared the year before saying the Hawks were bluffing about their willingness to match offers for Smoove. Steve Belkin is based in Boston. Just sayin.

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
11:54 am

To answer your more direct question: Even good journalists generally don’t know jack about the finances of pro sports. They have no conception of the scope of operating and franchise agreements, limited liability, or the distinction between the revenue/assets of a team and the revenue/assets of its owners. If a team spends less money or more money, it almost is always spun as resulting from the owners’ willingness to spend money. In reality, spending is tied almost exclusively to team revenues.

Suffice it to say, there’s a reason you never see pro sports teams go defunct even if its owners go bankrupt: Under the terms of every major pro sports team’s operating agreement, there is an almost shield that exists between the assets of a team and the assets of its owners. If a team is spending less, it’s because the team doesn’t sell many tickets. Now, obviously there is some cause-and-effect relationship between spending and revenues, but in the NBA (and to an even greater extent in the NFL), the league itself earns tons of revenues that are distributed to the individual teams. That’s why the minimum team payroll, salary cap, and luxury tax are all based on a percentage of leaguewide income. How much a team spends over that minimum correlates very closely to the individual team revenues derived from ticket sales, sponsorships, local TV/radio contracts, etc.

Atlanta is a terrible town for pro sports. Been true from the day the team arrived. The team’s ranking in TV ratings and attendance always lags behind its ranking in the standings. Jeff Schultz finally owned up and admitted that there’s a reason he writes more about the Braves’ offseason than he does about the Hawks’ regular season: His readers don’t care as much about pro basketball. That’s why the Hawks don’t earn money, which is, in turn, why the Hawks don’t spend more (and why they didn’t spend more money when Turner owned the team).

When ASG arrived, the team went into rebuilding mode under Billy Knight, trading away every player with a long-term contract to bring down the long-term payroll. When the ASG/Belkin dispute blew up, it coincided with the peak of the Hawks’ rebuilding process and, consequently, its lowest payrolls. Sportswriters assumed that there was a connection between the ASG takeover, the Belkin dispute and the payrolls. That view that was encouraged when both Belkin and ASG accused each other of wanting to run the team on the cheap. First impressions are hard to kick, which is why the stories have stayed around even after the Hawks started spending what most other teams in the league spend (ie the luxury tax threshold minus a couple million dollars). Ta da.

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
11:54 am

Under the terms of every major pro sports team’s operating agreement, there is an almost complete shield that exists between the assets of a team and the assets of its owners.

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
11:55 am

And *Atlanta is a terrible town for pro sports, and especially for pro basketball

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

This concludes your daily filibuster.

dr.maryb

May 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

Blue-Ray
(Clear Image)

Well, I went to church and prayed for a win today. Paid my tithe & its up to the Hawks to “do the darn thing!”
I’ve been enjoying all the great & intellectual postere from your,s & MC’s blog. Just observing from afar this past week.

Well, I got my popcorn & cherry coke. The beer is for the celebration afterwards. Don’t want to drink & drive.

BTW, Hawks WIN!

dr.maryb

May 2nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Blue-Ray
(Picture Perfect)

I checked out the Bucks blog after G.ame 6. Talk about weak! Seems like kids who didn’t pass their CRCT exams are posting over there. Not one intellectual in sight. Just a bunch of kids saying the same thing over & over! Not one researcher on board!!!

It really makes me for one appreciate all the bloggers on here, who whether you agree with them or NOT,
We all bring heat, passion & some logic. Not to mention – researched facts.

It appears that those fans are just glad to be in the playoffs & have very little hope of winning. They call us Thugs? That’s laughable. Were not even close to being that. All I hear is how tall, long & athletic we are, but no credit for being smart? Go – Figure!

I actually think Joe & Bibby think too much and play less on instincts. When Joe is dribbling? I honestly think he is making assessments instead of just playing what the defense gives you with quicker moves & plays.

Sautee

May 2nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Frontcourt: 6-12

Backcourt: 2-10

Let’s hope that the guards don’t forget the frontcourt.

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
1:40 pm

Nire,

Great response. I knew that article was full of crap b/c if Joe leave, the Hawks still wouldn’t have cap space to sign Rudy Gay who would probably command at least 10 mil. Hence, why I ask you about the ASG stigma and not the rest of the article. Again you made some valid points in your response. Thanks.

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
1:47 pm

Nire,

Look like folks may have took my Mark Jackson comment as an endorsement for him as the next Headcoach which not my intent.

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
2:06 pm

Horford finally stepping up on the boards and dominating, like he should have all series…

Sautee

May 2nd, 2010
2:13 pm

nire,

agreed. His games 3 and 4 were the most disappointing of his career.

Now he’s looking like the Al of March.

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
2:27 pm

Man, Joe is struggling…

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
2:28 pm

Josh is for 3333333333333333….lol

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

Joe is struggling on offense, Melvin. On the other hand, he has been playing great D on Jennings and Salmons all night. But hey, defense don’t matter, right? ;)

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
2:43 pm

Man, Joe is struggling with his shot. Is that better?

Sautee

May 2nd, 2010
3:21 pm

Congrats to the Hawks. Harder than it SHOULD have been but they took a gut check and won two elimination games.

Let’s go get the Magic.

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
3:30 pm

Bring on the Mouse Daddy….

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
4:15 pm

Nire,

Watching the Lakers/Jazz game, they said Mark Jackson was the Big East defensive player of the year in college…LMAO…

niremetal

May 2nd, 2010
4:21 pm

Melvin,

I think Mateen Cleaves won an award like that too :)

ONTO DISNEY WORLD!!!!!!!!!!

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
5:47 pm

And neither one could hit a consistent jumpshot to save their lives…

doc

May 2nd, 2010
6:03 pm

fear the deer no longer.

good to get back and find they won handily in seeming control most of the way.

now we get to take on a team that has developed rust and should be easy pickings for our well honed hardened, battle tested and focused hawks. heh heh

Melvin

May 2nd, 2010
6:14 pm

Sloan has his guys playing hard. Wes Matthews, K. Fesenko, Paul Milsap and CJ Miles are not household names but their coach have them performing at max level without two of their starters. Heck, give credit to Skiles for keeping his team competitive with unheralded players such as Ilyasova, L. Mbah a Moute and Delfino. All this has me thinking. What players have Woody turn from a no name to a productive rotational player during his tenure? How about coached somebody up Woody….

Big Ray

May 2nd, 2010
6:39 pm

The Deer Hunter (copyright, MannyT) has done his thing…

Big Ray

May 2nd, 2010
6:41 pm

Melvin ,

The opportunity is there with some of the guys we have on the bench. People keep talking (and rightly so in many cases) about us not having a particularly strong or talented bench. I mean, isn’t that part of the defense for Woody? Well, the opportunity is there…

Working on a new blog…

doc

May 2nd, 2010
8:19 pm

astro:

“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?”

yes, a resounding yes, AJ only to add, WTF took you so long?

also seems woody was playing possum a bit when he said there would be nothing new, eh?

i assure you woody cant wait 3 losses before making tweaks and adjustments. afterall AJ, these guys are pros and shoild be coached up to make adjustments moment to moment, tine out to time out; not games.

Big Ray

May 2nd, 2010
8:21 pm

New blog finally up…