Is Atlanta doing anymore than avoiding the 500 club?

Forget the panic button, I was all about pushing the one that says “despair and depression” after witnessing the recent losing streak of the Atlanta Hawks. A blowout against Washington at home in front of a fairly sparse crowd probably felt better than it should have. This was something the Hawks were known for doing to bad teams all last season (for the most part), so why get excited now? Well, it did show some determination and focus on the part of the Hawks players, which had been missing in the two or three previous games.

Now, after dispatching a fairly talented Knicks squad on its own home floor, the Hawks are back on the upswing again. Or are they? You see, the trouble is this – the Hawks aren’t having much trouble at all with the non-winning teams. They can beat Toronto tomorrow, and do so by double figures. What will it prove? It proves the Atlanta is not on the bottom of the pile. It proves that they can actually beat teams that they are clearly superior to. What it doesn’t do, is prove that the Hawks are as good as last year, let alone better. For the moment at least, the Hawks have proven that they don’t belong to the 500 club….that zone where a team is but a win or loss or so away from being over or under .500. The Knicks know how that is, they’re still there. The Hawks were there a couple of games ago.

I’m sure this wasn’t the Hawks’ goal for the year, so avoiding the 500 club is a less than palatable treat. Does that sound like complaining about wins? It probably does for a team that is struggling and trying to make its way off the floor and up the food chain. For a team that has come off of 47 and 53 win seasons, wherein talent has been increased over time instead of decreased, I’d say it’s not complaining at all. But what do I know…what do YOU think?

The Shake Up

Is there something going on with guards Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford? Of late, Teague’s playing time has become a subject of discussion, to the point of where some questions have been put to Larry Drew. Personally, I think he’s not telling any fabrications, but he’s also hedging. I said earlier on that we might see some developments along this line, and I still think we will see more, but there’s still not enough to push us towards a definite conclusion. It comes down to this – which guy impacts the game more positively when he comes in – Jeff Teague or Jordan Crawford?

Teague seemed to be the guy, at least defensively. The quickness, certainty, and aggression he lacks on offense appeared to show up quite a bit when on the other end of the floor. But then, even that went away, at least against the Celtics. Of course, it’s hard to get on the second year man when the entire rest of the team is stinking it up in the same game, but this is a guy who should be fighting for more than the 12-15 or so minutes per game he was getting. Even with Rajon Rondo missing from the game, there was no fire from the youngster. And instead of ruling the roost in garbage time against Washington, Teague again looked half-hearted at best. What gives? In the meantime, fellow guard Jordan Crawford hit the court hard on both ends, and largely played like a man whose very bread and water depended on every minute of his performance. Again, what gives?

Here’s the deal. Maybe Larry Drew should keep putting Crawford in and letting him get his lumps. He tends to get beat on defense, but he can learn, and he doesn’t shy away from it. On offense, the kid is scorer, pure and simple. Yes, he can go 4-15, or he can go 5-5. Either way, he is going to give it a go, and it won’t be half-hearted. What would the results be? One of two things, at the very least, I’m thinking. Either Crawford learns and turns into a viable rotation player sooner (those wanting to trade Jamal Crawford would be glad of this), or this provides the perfect fire to help unleash the “inner dog” that Jeff Teague supposedly has. For all we know, that dog has wandered back to the Wake Forest campus and taken up residency there, because we sure haven’t seen it around Atlanta lately.

I know, I know. I said I’d give him 20-25 games before criticizing Teague too heavily, and that maybe half a season would produce a better sample size for a hypothesis. It’s been 17 games, and pardon me when I say it ain’t looking good for the home team. But that’s where YOU come in. Should Larry Drew play Jordan Crawford more, or stick with the guy he says is our backup point guard? Something has to be done, or it becomes infinitely harder to trade Jamal Crawford, if that is what the Hawks should do. Why? Well, right now Jamal is still playing the part of backup point guard AND backup shooting guard. It’s great on nights that the Hawks aren’t facing a better than average point guard, or a couple of such point guards. It’s great when he shoots above 50% and scores around 20 points. It’s not so great when either one of those things is going the other way for us.

UP NEXT – Hawks vs Raptors

I’ll keep it simple: the Raptors are not a good team, as their record would suggest. However, two things are worth paying attention to:

1) They have three speedy guards in Barbosa, Calderon, and now Jerryd Bayless.

2) In their last game, they lost to the Boston Celtics by just 9 points, in Boston.

Point #2 could simply mean that the Raptors played hard against the Celtics (whereas the Hawks didn’t come close to doing so), but that would also indicate that they won’t go quietly. At the same time, there is no one on that Toronto team capable of truly imposing their will on the Hawks. At most, the speed of their guard will be an issue, as Calderon and Barbosa will be looking to penetrate and outrun our backcourt guys, while scrappy/heady player like Linas Kleiza and Reggie Evans will be looking to make a dent through hustle and tenacity. If the Hawks want to avoid further trouble, they’ll keep the clamps on those guys, while also not ignoring the shooting capabilities of Peja Stojakovich and Andrea Bargnani. They key to Bargnani? Close out on him before he gets his perimeter game going, then bang on him in the post every chance you get. He’s just not made for it, despite being a somewhat adequate rebounder, and a more than capable scorer.

Those are my keys to the game. What are YOURS?

75 comments Add your comment

Astro Joe

November 29th, 2010
4:04 pm

doc, I like how he devised a scheme to have his staff work with each of the young players and how he adopted his teaching technique for a player like Travis Outlaw… but in his coaching tenure, he’s gotten out of the 1st round twice. Heck, we just jettisoned a coach who had reached that milestone. At this point, any coach who the players want is likely not to be the right coach for the gig. Thus, my continued fascination with Bill Laimbeer (especially for a team like ours who lacks a definitive leader).

niremetal

November 29th, 2010
4:13 pm

O’Brien,

Yeah, Monty Williams was at the top of my list for the coaching vacancy. I didn’t know whether he had the same “rallying the troops” ability that McMillan has always shown, but it wasn’t even a secret that Monty handled the Xs and Os on key plays for Portland (and did a great job of it). So far, NO is looking great on paper, although I too have yet to watch them in action for more than a few minutes this year.

O'Brien

November 29th, 2010
5:37 pm

AJ,

From reading some of Hollinger’s notes…

1) Most of us assumed Jamal would decline (offensively and defensively), so when JJ was resigned, and Jordan drafted, Jamal should have been traded. I’m not sure why Rick hasnt traded him.

2) The JJ issue is a big problem. he is struggling already, and we havent even gotten to the difficult part of our schedule. he is struggling already and its still early in the season, so he hasnt played as many minutes yet. I just hope we can blame it on the hand injury

3) The Horford issue I blame LD. 2 fouls and Horford sits for the half, despite averaging only 2.6 fouls per game. He needs to play 36 mpg.

4) The interesting thing to me, is LD has emphasized defense, and has gotten rid of the switching, Teague gets more PT, but yet our defense and rebounding seems to be worse.

As for LD, he is still learning.

O'Brien

November 29th, 2010
5:55 pm

Doc,

I think Brian Shaw will be the next coach in LA after Phil Jackson retires (especially since Brian did not take the Cavs job).

Melvin

November 29th, 2010
10:05 pm

Astro,

Per MC aritcle, you can take the Hawks off the infamous players only meeting. The entire team and coaches attended the meeting after the Nets game.

“To address such a slide, the Hawks had a candid team meeting the day after the Nets loss. Drew, his assistant coaches and the players all got a chance to say what was on their minds.”

It’s funny how Joe is skepitcal and his play has falling off the most this season..

“Johnson, who had taken a skeptical view of the team’s 6-0 start because of the quality of its opponents, is once again waiting to see of the Hawks can keep it up.”

“It can happen for one game, but what about the next game?” he said. “We will see how everybody responds through the season.”

Melvin

November 29th, 2010
10:37 pm

Here’s a backup SF the Hawks could sign for cheap. Wasn’t this the reason why the Hawks left the final roster spot open. To be flexible to sign a guy if needed.

Marc J. Spears: Kings waive guard Antoine Wright. Twitter

niremetal

November 30th, 2010
1:01 am

Problem is that now we only have 1 roster spot left, and there’s no telling what position we’ll need it at later this year. If Bibby goes down, we’ll need a PG more than a SF. Signing Etan hamstrung us. I feel like we have to hold the last roster spot in reserve until at least February in case a key player or two goes down with a long-term injury.

vava74

November 30th, 2010
1:58 am

Astro,

Goebbels would be proud of you… watching you digging over and over garbage written about the Hawks.

Why do you re-ash what idiots write about the Hawks?

Hollinger ignores – pretty voluntarily – the fact that JJ has been playing with his left hand hurt. I don’t care what JJ says but he is struggling due to that. He denies it because he does not want to look soft but the fact is that he could not shoot or dribble at all with the glove (he was/is also shying away from contact on D).

But no… it’s easier to pile up on the nonsense that JJ is in decline.

The problem with the Hawks has been 1 and 1 alone: lack of hustle.

From a tactical point of view, the team is much much better prepared and LD’s option to play bench players more minutes will produce results down the road.

During the summer weren’t there a lot of raves on how Doc used his bench during the year at the expense of some wins and then riped the fruits in the playoffs??

Why was that so favorably commented around the league and when it come to the Hawks it’s a mistake?

We need to keep guys like Powell involved and warm so when the time comes in which we need them badly they are not rusty.

I have not seen a single game in which Powell could be blamed for a loss. A single one.

However, I saw a few games in which the starters, including Josh and Al, and Jamal were clearly to blame for the losses.

vava74

November 30th, 2010
2:24 am

Oh, by the way, Durant is shooting .419 from the field and .267 from 3 point land…

AND NO FREAKING ONE IS SAYING THAT HE IS IN DECLINE AND THAT OKC MADE THE WRONG DECISION TO GIVE HIM A BIG CONTRACT!!!!!!!!!

wordsmithtom

November 30th, 2010
6:25 am

Hawks having growing pains….but NOTHING like this: call him LaBABY!
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Ak5_yw_foTMEMuDQqI3kJWK8vLYF?slug=aw-lebronspoelstra112910

Imagine throwing things and demanding someone else pick them up. I hope the whole of Indiana shows up and shouts his azz out of town.

For all the concerns about JJ’s poor shooting, at least he continues to play defence and gets rebounds and assists and you NEVER see him dissin’ the coach or other players. People criticise his leadership because he’s quiet. I say, what one does is more important than what he says. LaBABY’s leadership skills are miniscule compared to JJ’s. No, JJ isn’t a freak, like LB, but I believe he’ll be ok. LaBaby, probably gets more childish. I don’t see him manning up. The brat has become him and it’s rubbing off on his teammates.

And I hope LD continues to grow. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bill Lambeer here. Or in Miami….Imagine LaQueen pushing Bill…..I’d pay to see that.

O'Brien

November 30th, 2010
8:40 am

Melvin,

We could have used him when Marvin and Mo were both injured, but I’m with nire. Antonie Wright is not worth our 15th roster spot right now.

vava,

My biggest concern with Powell is he is a jump shooting PF, meanwhile we continue to struggle on the boards. I would have liked to see us sign somebody who is willing to box out and rebound.

wordsmithtom,

My concern with JJ is we will need him to play better when our schedule gets tougher next week. So if his hand is hurt (which I think it is), I would like to see LD rest him, or reduce his minutes as much as possible.

Big Ray

November 30th, 2010
9:21 am

4. Decline of the D
Basically, they’ve stopped guarding people. The Hawks weren’t a particularly good defensive team a year ago, especially in transition, but this year they’ve taken another step backward. That’s the opposite of what you’d expect from a crew that’s added another year of experience and cohesion.

Atlanta is just 19th in defensive efficiency despite the easy early schedule, an unacceptable result from a team with one of the league’s most feared shot-blockers and only one position (point guard) in which defense appears to be a real liability. The Hawks have been subpar on the boards (21st in defensive rebound rate) but they were last year, too. The bigger problem is an inability to force turnovers — Atlanta is 27th in opponent turnovers per possessions.

Very interesting. I don’t know how this is possible when we have JJ, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. Oh, and Marvin who is consistently very good on defense.

Jamal is no worse than he was last year, and to be honest, I’ve seen far more effort (and result) in Mike Bibby, even though he’s still not going to get it against the quicker, better PGs.

So, the problem simply must be Josh and Al, right? Yeah, that’s it….

As for JJ and that hurt left hand, we didn’t start seeing the glove until about a week or so ago. And it’s not his RIGHT hand. I guess that explains the rotten shooting percentage, eh? And here I was just thinking he was struggling from the field. All this time, his hand has been hurting (when did this happen again?)

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
9:42 am

vava, I don’t think that you could compare what Doc did to save the knees of the rehabbing KG with how Horford is being used. Kind of an apples and celery comparison.

Melvin, glad to hear the Hawks avoided the goofy players-only meeting.

With Teague struggling to stay in the rotation, a 3rd PG appears to be the team’s primary hole right now. Antonio Daniels is trying to resurrect his career in the NBDL… he has always been a low-turnover/strong defense performer in the past. Of course, he shoots about as straight as a Phil Niekro knuckleball. But at least he has seen it all and won’t shrink if called upon to play spot minutes. It would be kind of hard to find a flawless free agent PG in December… Daniels may be the best thing available.

doc

November 30th, 2010
9:46 am

best thing to happen to cleveland was for the queen to leave. they are hostage no more, the nba is still hostage however.

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
9:49 am

As for Joe being skeptical and his level of play, one has nothing to do with the other. Just because you can’t shoot straight, it doesn’t mean that you have to start planning a championship parade after beating several JV teams to start the year. The disturbing thing about Joe right now is he is missing so many open (or relatively open) shots. At the same time, we’ve watched him have these 8-10 game slumps in past seasons. Let’s see what happens next week when we play the Florida teams… if the combination of a healthier wrist and quality competition gets him back on track.

O'Brien

November 30th, 2010
10:15 am

AJ,

I think there is a lot of pressure on JJ too. He struggled in the playoffs last year, while his team lost by a combined 101 points.

And then he signs a huge 6 years, $124 mil contract. And with the summer of sameness, and no Woody, expectations are high.

But yeah, his horrible 3pt % is a big cause for concern, because we will need him more in the coming weeks. I hope he gets it going.

Big Ray,

Our defense last year and this year are apples and oranges (imo). Last year, we switched everything, all the time. And now, we hardly switch. So the scheme is different.

The one thing thats inexcusable to me is the lack of rebounding. We are in the bottom 5 of the league.

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
10:31 am

OB, Joe played quite well in the first 4 games of the playoffs. And then “chemistry” happened. Another theory could be related to the offense, given that both Joe and Jamal are down so far this season. Maybe they haven’t adjusted to the manner that they get shots… although one would assume that taking relatively open shots is better than taking contested shots out of iso-plays. Maybe it is just a coincidence that the 2 guys who were featured in the previous offensive scheme are now struggling in the current version.

vava74

November 30th, 2010
10:50 am

Ray,

To think that an injury to the wrist of the non-shooting hand does not affect the shot release can only come from someone who never shot a bball.

So I will continue to say: he is injured and I am pretty sure that his shot has been off mostly because of that.

The injury was during training camp or pre-season.

wordsmithtom

November 30th, 2010
11:07 am

O’Brien, not knowing how bad JJ’s hand is, I’d venture a suggestion. Once Marvin is 100%, let JJ have a couple games off. So they lose…..JC2 gets some valuable minutes. If Marvin maintains the new found aggression, JJ won’t be missed nearly as bad as having him out for months if the hand is aggrevated. Again, I don’t know…so it concerns me.

vava74

November 30th, 2010
11:16 am

Astro,

Wrong again.

You know perfectly well that Al is “undersized” to play the C spot and to play him less will certainly help him stay fresh.

What I have been too happy about with regard to Al is that he has not been hustling and seems to be too in love with his jump shot, which, although is going in at a good rate, should be moderated with more post moves as we see when we win.

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
11:25 am

vava, if you want to play Al less at center, that is one thing. But to play him less in games overall? That’s stupid.

O'Brien

November 30th, 2010
12:28 pm

“with regard to Al is that he has not been hustling and seems to be too in love with his jump shot, which, although is going in at a good rate, should be moderated with more post moves as we see when we win.” vava .

Some of which can also be said for Josh.

But I’m with AJ. At Al’s age (and its not like he takes a beating down low every night), he should still be fresh with 35 mpg. Give him minutes at Center and PF.

And LD needs to stop this automatic 2 foul rule, where you sit for the half. It needs to be a case by case basis.

wordsmithtom,

Agreed on the suggestion. I would like to see LD go to Marvin early on, and see if he has it going on. If he does, keep him involved.

If he doesn’t, then just go back to the original plan. And resting JJ would give JC2 more minutes. But the best time to rest him would be against weak competition.

wordsmithtom

November 30th, 2010
1:36 pm

O’Brien,
Perhaps the “best” time for JC2 might indeed be against Miami. He’s already gotten in LaBaby’s face and is clearly not scared to do it again. IMHO Marvin first, then tell the kid to run LaBran’s azz into the ground.

Astro Joe

November 30th, 2010
2:48 pm

Tomorrow would be a good time to rest Joe. Memphis plays tonight, so they will be a little tired coming in to Atlanta tomorrow. They will likely be 7-11 (not exactly tearing up the league). If Joe has the night off, that would give him 4 days of relative rest before the Friday/Saturday games. Of course, does LD want to risk another home loss by resting Joe against the Grizzlies? I would, because the Memphis outcome pales in comparison to what happens with Miami & Orlando.

O'Brien

November 30th, 2010
9:31 pm

So Hawks have not played since Sunday, while Memphis will play tonight, before playing the Hawks tomorrow.

What are the chances the Hawks come out flat against Memphis?

An interesting comment from Mike Smith, the Falcons coach. From ajc.com;

Smith knew the potential perils of year three.

“Sometimes familiarity is not a good thing,” he said. “It’s natural for a staff and players to get into a routine and become comfortable with one another. It was important that we looked at all levels, starting with me, and we held ourselves to higher expectations.”.

I think familiarity is a big problem for the Hawks.