Hawks look for that first credible win

The Indiana Pacers are no longer a pushover, but until they become a playoff team, the Hawks are going to have to settle for having another game with an asterisk beside it. On Friday night, they get another chance to prove that they can beat the good teams, too. The good news is that the Hawks will be at home, and the Dallas Mavericks will be coming off of what will likely be a hard fought game against the Chicago Bulls. Well, that should be good news. If the Hawks win, would this one come with another asterisk?

 

Offense Switches Gears

The offensive game plan that Larry Drew instituted has coincided with the growth of some of the Hawks’ younger players, while changing the game of others. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford finds himself in a different position from last year. Oh sure, he’s still the top offensive sub off the bench, but no longer is he second on the team in scoring and shot attempts. Fact is, Jamal is now fourth in both categories, giving way to big men Josh Smith and Al Horford. Things are a little different for Joe Johnson as well, what with his scoring average dipping to just over 19 points per game, though arguably his struggles from the field are a major factor. Still, what once seemed like the only sword Atlanta could live or die by, has become a strong point that finally has adequate support. Remember the days when we talked about having credible offensive threats alongside Joe Johnson? Well, it seems those days are here.

Al Horford has vaulted to the position of second leading scorer for the team, averaging exactly one bucket less per contest than Joe Johnson. It’s not just the increased shot attempts that has brought this about. It’s also the way Horford has worked on his game. Still lacking a couple of sure-fire post moves, Horford has enough in his arsenal to get some baskets on the block, but it’s his perimeter shot that does so much damage these days. Not only can Al hit it on occasion, he can hit it several times in a row before ducking back in for a running baby hook or a baseline turnaround shot. The best part? How about a 63.7 field goal percentage? All of that in just a tad over 31 minutes a game, and you have to wonder what this guy will do if he gets to play 35 per night.

Josh Smith’s game has also taken on a transformation. While he may still have maddening moments where he tries to do too much, Smith has managed to improve areas that seemed all but lost last season. Believe it or not, the man’s shooting stroke has improved, even if we still think we’re daydreaming after 12 games. The unexpected prowess from beyond the arc notwithstanding, Josh looks like he actually worked hard on that part of his game. Here’s the part that flies under the radar, however: free throws. That’s right, after stinking it up from the charity stripe last season, smith is now right back up under 70%, where he belongs. It could get better from here. But for now, we get to watch him shoot a good percentage from the field, and hope that this never stops. Is Josh’s jumpshot legit, or is it just a mirage?

Either way, the Hawks aren’t one-dimensional on offense anymore, and they no longer are front-court challenged when it comes to bonafide scoring. Between the two, the Hawks might just have three all-stars at this season’s half way point. You never know.

 

HAWKS VS. MAVS

Dallas has always been dangerous, and like Atlanta in recent years, they’re good for an early season run. We know who all of the usual suspects are. So much is possible with the cerebral Jason Kidd in the game. Dirk Nowitzki is going to score (and rebound). Jason Terry is a dangerous super sub who can shoot his team to a win. Juan Barea is anathema to any team that has trouble keeping up with quick little point guards. But what about some of the newer faces on the squad? Shawn Marion and Caron Butler have seen better days, what with both of them struggling from the deep perimeter. However, neither guy can be slept on completely. Here’s where the Mavs differ the most, though – in the post. Gone is the apathetic Eric Dampier. In his place is Tyson Chandler, who just happens to be backed up by Brendan Haywood.

There’s the rub. If the Mavs want to, they can go pretty big against us. We’ll be looking at height all night long. Of course, the Atlanta advantage is in speed and full court capability. If the Hawks can get out and run, they’ll give the Mavs fits. The only thing is, if you want to run, you have to rebound on the defensive end. If you want to rebound, you have to play defense (or hope the other team misses a lot of shots). Naturally, this is two areas the Hawks are having trouble in. Defend and rebound, and the Mavs will leave the Highlight Factory with a loss. Fail to do so, and we could be looking at a double digit loss.

Matchups to Watch

Will Larry Drew try to match size with size? Let’s assume he’ll put his five best guys on the floor to start things off, then go from there. So…..

Horford vs. Chandler – Look for Al to draw Tyson Chandler out with his jumper, and see if Nowitzki gets switched onto him. If not, Horford will torch the Mavs as long as his shot is on. On the other end of the floor, Horford won’t have much trouble denying Chandler position in the post, but he’ll have to be careful of quick dump-off passes from the Dallas guards.

Jose Juan Barea vs. Jeff Teague – the Teague watch continues! The second year pg will get his chance to continue proving that he’s a viable option off the bench as he goes up against the Dallas slickster, who has caused the Hawks enough grief in the past. Teague has the speed and on ball tenacity to stay with Barea. But will he have the savvy to stay out of foul trouble?

Josh Smith vs…..?

How will Dallas guard Smith, particularly if they start getting burned by Horford’s 18 foot jumper? Brendan Haywood is too slow, and really so it Chandler (though he’s quicker and a better leaper than Haywood). The Mavs won’t want Nowitzki in foul trouble, and neither Shawn Marion nor Caron Butler have the size and strength. This could be a big key to the game, as Dallas will have to choose which Hawks big man to clamp down on. The Mavs say they have been winning with defense. The Hawks will challenge that idea.

 

What are YOUR keys to the game?

218 comments Add your comment

John J.

November 21st, 2010
7:37 am

Tell me again, why did we break the bank for ISO Joe? Poor shooting percentage, turnovers, etc…

BillS

November 21st, 2010
10:18 am

I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But I’m bailing now on the Hawks. They’re headed where they’ve been before — slightly above mediocrity — and I’m tired of following them there. Everyone knew we needed to make changes, and we didn’t. We have some very good players, and we have upper management that is near-sighted and cheap. This is the result. I’m gone. Good luck, guys.

niremetal

November 21st, 2010
11:50 am

Mid-range/long jumper watch

Al: 3 for 4
Josh: 3 for 8
Joe: 2 for 11
Marvin: 1 for 3
Jamal: 0 for 7

drmaryb

November 21st, 2010
11:52 am

Blu-Ray
(Clear Image)

You said this:
“Marvin has made himself invisible again. After the time off and limited minutes, I’m hesitant to chalk this one up to him trying to get back into the groove after injury. He’s proving to be just plain useless.”

Useless – is not strong enough of a word!

drmaryb

November 21st, 2010
11:59 am

Blu-Ray
(Clear Image)

said this:
“know this much: it won’t be easy if Joe continues to struggle the way he has. What’s up with that glove on his left hand?

Well, Blu-Ray, say what you will – But, he is NO Michael Jackson!

O'Brien

November 21st, 2010
2:19 pm

The truth had an interesting post on the other blog, and I agree with some of his comments.

LD talked about accountability. But has anybody seen it, especially when it comes to Jamal?

Jamal is the first guy off the bench (no matter what). And he gets starter minutes (29 mpg, no matter what).

And Marvin is being Marvin.

And ZaZa has 3 games where he scored 17, 12 and 16. His other games? 7, 6, 3, 7, 0, 2, 2, 4, 5, and 0. We need more from him.

I wouldnt mind seeing the lineup from when Marvin was hurt. Twin/Al/Josh.

And except for one game where he scored 10 points, Teague has not scored more than 7 points in any other game. He contributes on defense, and in other ways, but his scoring would be very beneficial when Bibby is out the game.

O'Brien

November 21st, 2010
3:33 pm

Big Ray,

I tried posting this earlier, but it got eaten.

I was talking about lack of accountability when it comes to Jamal. he is the first guy off the bench (no matter what), and he gets starters minutes (29 mpg, no matter what).

Our bench has been really bad too.

ZaZa had 3 games in double figures, but other than that, he has not given us much. Teague has one game where he scord 10 points, but other than that, he has not given us much offensively.

And so far, Marvin is still Marvin.

I would like to see the lineup of Twin/Al/Josh some more.

Astro Joe

November 21st, 2010
4:36 pm

I missed the second half last night. But am I to understand that LD called a play for the guy with a bad wrist that was intended NOT to convert the shot as much as to get the ref to blow the whistle? And the starters had attempted all of 4 FTAs during the entire game? Interesting.

I did get to see Dallas employ zone defense with very similar results. Funny to read all of the “trade Jamal” posts.

hawkfan

November 21st, 2010
7:08 pm

i thought jamal is known as “the difference” maybe he is the difference between this team being mediocre or moving to the next step, who knows

Jeff D.

November 21st, 2010
8:33 pm

MD, Real fans support the team regardless. You can’t just be a fan of the team after it peels off some big wins and ask to be dropped off when they lose to the Knicks. I live in Atlanta and I’m a fan, period. This team is far from a bunch of bums, and/or garbage. It’s a work in progress. We’re not owned by Mark Cuban or Jerry Buss. As for our ownership, we have too many cooks in the kitchen and that’s a sad fact. Sund has done well considering. If your not a fan I’m not offended. I’m sure you have other jersey’s to wear in your closet for this week, or are you sticking with the New Orleans jersey a little longer?

O'Brien

November 21st, 2010
9:31 pm

I give OKC lots of credit. But they drafted James Harden at #3 in the 2009 draft. Some of the picks after James Harden? Tyreke Evans at #4, Stephen Curry at #7, Brandon Jennings at #10.

I guess this adds to the debate about do you take the best available player, or do you draft for need? They drafted for need (they already had Westbrook), but they are still waiting for Harden to step up.

Speaking of James Harden, saw this from Bill Simmons;

“The concern with Harden? He might be another Marvin Williams: solid player, good character guy, a borderline starter … but ultimately pretty forgettable” .

Here we are, 6 years later, still complaining about Marvin Williams, and still looking for a long term solution at the PG position.

Astro Joe

November 21st, 2010
9:58 pm

OB, do you know about George McGinnis and Marc Ivaroni?

Supposedly, Rondo will miss the Hawks game.

Melvin

November 22nd, 2010
12:24 am

Astro,

Celtics still have the midget and Delonte. Both players has given the Hawks trouble in the past….

Melvin

November 22nd, 2010
12:33 am

“Ryan McNeill: Colangelo also said that the team would look into a trade or buyout if Peja Stojakovic doesn’t like his role here in Toronto. Twitter”

If the Raps buyout Peja, would you guys like to see him in a Hawks uniform? Could be a cheap signing to play backup SF or bring Marvin off the bench and in defensive situations…

Big Ray

November 22nd, 2010
1:09 am

Melvin ,

I vote NO on that one. Peja isn’t what he used to be, and I’m not even sure Marvin could be a consistent bench player (at $37 million, no less). We can’t seem to get him going as a starter, would he get much done as a bench player? A year ago or more, I’d have said yes. Now I’m not so sure. I do know that I’m absolutely tired of watching him do anything but be consistent. That’s all I want, is it too much to ask?? Just be freakin’ consistent and stop disappearing!

If we bring in another SF type, we need to get a guy who can give us a good solid 15-25 minutes, not somebody who simply comes in and shoots. We’re already having to resort to that when subbing Jamal in for Marvin. Ideally, you lose size, defense, and rebounding when that happens. However, when Marvin isn’t giving us anything, we end up going with Jamal. I mean, what does that say about Marvin (as O’brien pointed out during the game)? Nope, we need a more complete player.

If we could put another 2-3 inches of height on Mo Evans, we’d be fine.

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
3:34 am

Even if Rondo does not play, I don’t think Boston will lose 3 in a row…

Specially after what they said yesterday after losing to TOR… they will come with chip on their shoulder.

Or maybe Jamal will ON tonight so he can be off 3 or 4 games in a row after…

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
3:58 am

trade Jamal for a back of Cheetos but trade him AT ONCE

and look into Da’Sean Butler.

If he recovers from his injury we could have a great core of wing players:

J teague (I have not lost hope on him coming along)
jordan C (I think he will be a star in this league)
da’sean B

wordsmithtom

November 22nd, 2010
4:55 am

Jordan showed 2 things Sat. He is fearless: that shot over Dirk was a thing of beauty, proof the kid has the instinct to go after the hoop, nomatter whom is in front of him. Kind of like that dunk over Lebron we saw on the web. Jordon fears nobody. He also showed he’s not quite ready to close out games. He has a lot to learn and needs minutes. I’m more inclined now to agree with vava on the need to move JC1 now instead of waiting till mid season. Addition by subtraction would give Jordon minutes in the first half to learn. Kid’s going to be a PLAYER, even as he has a lot to learn. He seems to have the aptitude to go with the desire.

O'Brien

November 22nd, 2010
7:43 am

wordsmithtom,

Agreed on Jordan. But if you look at the numbers, Jamal is not ready to close out games either. But I think it starts with Marvin.

When Chills was here, he would close games out over Marvin. And now we see Jamal (even when he is struggling) closing games out over Marvin.

Big Ray, Marvin is consistent.

2009 Marvin: 10 pts, 5 rebs, 30.5 mpg, good defense under Woody.

2010 Marvin: 9.4 pts, 5 rebs, 29 mpg, good defense under LD.

So far, that’s what we’ve been getting for $7.5 mil annually.

And to make it worse, we see improvements that Josh and Al are making every season, but what improvements have we seen from Marvin? A new and improved way to wrap the towel around his head when he’s on the bench?

wordsmithtom

November 22nd, 2010
8:10 am

No, Marvin is not taking us to another level. He is not, however, hurting us with 5-6 turnover nights. He showed signs of picking things up before getting hurt. One wonders if he ever figures it out. Still, he’s not HURTING us like the JC1/JC2 bad nights together do. Gun to head: we swap JC1 for a 3 that can shoot from the outside who pushes Marvin for minutes. He’s never had anyone who would take his time….that might just motivate him….having to ride the pines. As things stand, we have no one to stimulate this kind of urgency. If your mommy makes your bed, you never learn to make your own bed….

O'Brien

November 22nd, 2010
8:37 am

I would like to see JJ return to form though, because it will be tough to beat the good teams if JJ continues to struggle like he is.

His scoring average is down to 18.5, and he is shooting 25% from behind the arc. And the motion offense was supposed to make things easier for him.

Maybe its the new contract effect. Marvin, Bibby and ZaZa all struggled the first season after signing their big contract in the offseason.

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:40 am

wordsmithtom,

co-sign. Jamal has been a bad shot and turnover machine and is killing the teams momentum when he gets in in the first period.

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:51 am

OB,

JJ is playing hurt.

It’s his non shooting hand, but nonetheless, I believe that this is causing him problems.

O'Brien

November 22nd, 2010
9:14 am

vava,

Could be. I think MC mentioned something about him wearing a glove on his hand.

wordsmithtom,

Beasley was a #2 pick, and he struggled in Miami, where they had high expectations for him, and was very inconsistent. But now that he is in Minny, he is playing much better.

Beasley in Miami: 14 pts and 6 rebs per game
Beasley in Minnesota: 22 pts and 6 rebs per game

I really think a change of scenery would do Marvin well. Here, he will always be the guy drafted over CP3 and Deron, and the guy we’re paying $7.5 mil to be the 4th or 5th option on offense.

A fresh start would do him and the Hawks well (imo). And with the money we’re paying Al, Josh, and JJ, I think SF is one position where we could/should be saving money, especially with a new CBA.

O'Brien

November 22nd, 2010
9:15 am

One more thing on Marvin. Defensively, he defends his position well. But on offense, is SF really his best position?

Or should we play him some minutes at backup PF? He has to be better than Josh Powell, right?

Astro Joe

November 22nd, 2010
9:41 am

Has anyone looked at the Eastern Conference standings lately? Remember the prevailing thought during the summer was that the Hawks may lose a few more games because the teams int ehconference “have gotten better”? Yes, it’s early, but the Eastern Conference looks pretty pathetic right now with only 5 teams with winning records.

Didn’t we lose like 3 of 5 games when Marvin was hurt? So how is Marvin hurting this team if we’ve only lost 2 games with him playing? Oh yeah, winning isn’t as satisfying unless every player is putting up nice stats.

Fact of the Day… after 13 games in ‘09-10 season, the Hawks were averaging over 106 points per gamewith an overall 11-2 record and 4-2 on the road.

doc

November 22nd, 2010
12:23 pm

would anyone ttrade the salaries of shaq and chills for that of mo and jamal about now. if we had paid shaq what he wanted it might have been about the same in salary structure. throw away collins salary and get one of the wings that went for 1.5 mil and we might be more competitive and deeper than we really are now. we have two sg to pretend they are sf and have been for two years. balance, where is it? shame somehow jack couldnt have been pried away in the off season from the raptors. wonder why he suddenly became available or was he all along for the person doing the asking?

wonder what tonight brings? really glad we got by the pacers, that really could have been a trap game.

doc

November 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

ok astro, when are you going to make it official with a sign off on all the posts with:

“BRING BACK WOODY!” ?

;-)

Astro Joe

November 22nd, 2010
1:41 pm

doc, I don’t want Woody. Although I am thinking of starting a Bill Laimbeer campaign. If you think that one Kardashian sister is shallow, media-focused and self-absorbed, then why date another Kardashian sister? (That is by no means a literal interpretation from me, those girls are FINE and I ain’t mad at none of them).

I also wondered if the Raptors were looking for a double-digit expiring contract and a young PG who has only flashed some playing potential, if the Hawks didn’t have those same assets to trade to the Raps for Jack (and Banks’ expiring deal). But then again, it’s only a matter of time before Teague is better than most of the PGs drafted ahead of him… we just need Van Exel to keep working his dog-voodoo.

doc

November 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

yeah astro you got my drift.

Melvin

November 22nd, 2010
7:43 pm

Forget being a Hawks fans, that 1st qtr was an embarrassment to any fan of basketball…

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
7:47 pm

oh my… oh my…

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
7:48 pm

I am sending a mammoth size order of diapers to the Hawks…

Astro Joe

November 22nd, 2010
8:08 pm

OK, let’s see what “accountability” looks like when you’re losing by 20 at half-time in front of your home fans. Steve Holman is KILLING several players on the radio.

Astro Joe

November 22nd, 2010
8:10 pm

vava, maybe you need to take a nap. Last season, you always slept through the good runs and were awake for the poor stretches.

lukas

November 22nd, 2010
8:11 pm

How can a team, the same team with lightly better bench, regress that much over one season? Last year they were tough at home; this year they can’t even play equally to an older Boston team that they owned last year.

doc

November 22nd, 2010
8:16 pm

it is about the culture and it starts at the top.

shaq couldnt have helped this team? jarrett jack available and we dont have him? chills gone for a second rounder that hawks never guess right on and nire points out rarely work for even the best teams and an accounting gimmick the hawks would never use? that is the culture i speak of.

wouldnt using fewer bodies and getting quality have been reasonable rather than what we got. look at their depth, simply men against boys.

i guess the mystique of phillips is over for the celts.

doc

November 22nd, 2010
8:18 pm

who was holman dishing astro?

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:19 pm

lukas,

Many factors, amongst them:

1. The Hawks are infantile: every single time an opponent shows up undermanned, the Hawks come into the game with the wrong mind set.

2. I love Horford, but he suffers for a metal block when he faces Howard and Shaq and simply sh*ts his pants.

3. JJ is hurt and should be shut down completely until he comes back healthy.

AND

4. Boston came out of 2 consecutive losses and yesterday the talk was that they had to man up and be more focused, so they came extra motivated and with the right mind set.

All the above shows on court:

a) We came in asleep;

b) Horford came shooting blanks against Shaq (and continues on close shots to do so);

c) JJ is useless right now;

d) Boston is playing like hell.

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:20 pm

And Josh’s man to man D is subpar… and his decision making on fast breaks horrible…

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:22 pm

And as we all know it, Bibby is too damn slow to defend Nate.

LD is, for the second game in a row, making significant mistakes on the bench.

It breaks my heart but:

1. Teague should have gotten minutes earlier to stop Nate;

2. Collins should have gotten minutes earlier to clog the lane and give Shaq something bigger to push around.

Astro Joe

November 22nd, 2010
8:22 pm

doc, at one point he said “I forgot Marvin was playing tonight”. At another point he said “oh-oh, Josh is having one of those games again”. e ripped Zaza for not going after a rebound. He’s pretty much ripping the team collectively for poor effort.

lukas

November 22nd, 2010
8:27 pm

Vava,

I agree with you, but i prefer doc’s version: this team has developed a culture based on losing, laziness, being cheap, being mentally weak, and no pride. Even Horford, which is the only champion we have (besides Bibby), is getting infected by the “i won’t play hard because i don’t feel like to” attitude.

lukas

November 22nd, 2010
8:37 pm

I like Jordan Crawford.

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:45 pm

lukas,

doc’s version is an easy thing to say but is not “material” nor “palpable”.

what I can see is that JJ is hurt and should not be playing AT ALL, that Bibby is too slow to defend Nate, Horford craps his pants against Howard and Shaq but matches up well against Garnett, Josh is being burned by Garnett and should not continued to defend him…

Collins, who is a capable defender was not put against Shaq…

A lot of mistakes by LD who started by doing a good job but I think has now lost track of where he wants to go.

niremetal

November 22nd, 2010
8:49 pm

That’s why I like Holman. He’s a homer when it counts, but he also calls it like it is. And tonight, the Hawks provided a better example than any dictionary could for the word “apathy.”

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:50 pm

And WTF is Teague doing on the bench?

Melvin

November 22nd, 2010
8:52 pm

lukas,

You are fairly new in these parts. You may not want to refer to the Hawks as being cheap b/c that may incite a riot on the blog….

vava74

November 22nd, 2010
8:52 pm

And WTF Jamal is doing on the court?

Melvin

November 22nd, 2010
8:53 pm

vava,

LD gave him the quick during the 3rd qtr for Mo. I was wondering the same thing…