Hawks face nemesis again

For the Atlanta Hawks, another week begins with back-to-back games, the first being tonight in Orlando. For this team, it’s been a season of streaks so far, wherein anything they’ve done once, they’ve done at least twice before going the other way. In other words, if they came off a loss and won the next game, they’ve won at least two in a row before losing again. Will that trend continue or break tonight?

 

The Damien Effect

If you didn’t know it before, let me tell you now. Damien Wilkins is no joke on the defensive end. While he played limited minutes and the Hawks couldn’t pull out the victory, it was refreshing to see an Atlanta guard giving an all out effort on the perimeter, and doing so effectively. How about that? Sorry, but I have to say it again – couldn’t the Hawks have used this more than Etan Thomas? Well, you know what they say…better late than never, and at least this move comes around 20 games into the season, rather than halfway through.

Hold the phone, though. If you think Wilkins will be around simply as a 5 to 7 minute defensive specialist, think again. While his career shooting percentages are nothing to write home about, he can still provide some offense here and there. Few things are better coming off the bench than a guy who can play two positions, provide very good defense, and hit a few shots. Watch for Wilkins to demonstrate this as he learns Drew’s offense, and as long as the Hawks keep sharing the ball. It also gives the Hawks a good modified three guard lineup off the bench if Drew finds the matchups to be beneficial (Jamal-PG, Mo-SG, Wilkins-SG/SF being one example). This might even help matters when Marvin Williams is practicing his magic act. Perhaps the Hawks would do well to heed this endorsement:

It’s just one game, but Al is sold: “I love that. I love his intensity. I love his toughness on defense. It’s something we need. I’m saying it now: I hope we keep him and he’s with us for the long run. A guy like that can be helpful.”

The Enigma that is Marvin

After four straight good games, Marvin Williams has fallen by the wayside again, disappearing against the Miami Heat. Is this the new consistency? Nobody can expect a guy to have a good game every game, but sometimes it’s just the worst timing in the world. It’s not like he does it on purpose, but what gives? Part of the issue may be that Marvin simply does not have what it takes to impose his will on the game from any particular aspect, on a night-to-night basis. While his defense is the most consistent and effective part of his game most of the time, the team simply needs more than decent-to-good defense sometimes. In fact, now more than ever (since Joe Johnson is out), the Hawks need for Marvin to be better in at least one area, if not two. Without a good night on the boards or in scoring, the Hawks are forced to go to the not-yet-quite-healthy Mo Evans for points and rebounds, or are otherwise leaning too heavily on Jamal Crawford, who will take on the task whether it’s a good idea or not. If you think that thought is off base, then read between these last lines. Either way, the point remains – the Hawks will need more from Marvin against the better teams, and tonight is no exception. Can he deliver?

HAWKS VS. MAGIC

Last time these two teams met, it wasn’t anywhere near a blowout. In fact, the Hawks nearly pulled the victory off, sans some turnovers and missed shots down the final stretch. Some say Orlando simply didn’t shoot well and had to find other ways to grind out the win. Others say the Hawks competed and made the Magic guard them for once. Regardless of what theory you have, the real story may have been who was missing in that game. The Magic didn’t have starting point guard Jameer Nelson, and the Hawks didn’t small forwards Marvin Williams and Mo Evans. Which guy(s) makes a bigger difference for each team? It will be hard to tell, as the Hawks come into this game as having drawn the short straw, what with leading scorer Joe Johnson unavailable.

What’s bad about this is the fact that Joe had a good game against the Magic last time, shooting over 50% and posting 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Outside of his efforts, Al Horford’s efficient offense, and Jamal’s free throws, the Hawks struggled on offense. What will they do without Joe? Jamal will no doubt have a big hand in things, but the Hawks will need more from other sources. Mike Bibby’s outside shooting has been a real boost for Atlanta on most nights, and Josh Smith will need to be on as well. Can the Hawks get Al Horford going early and run the offense through him, or will it have to be somebody else?

If you ask me, the biggest challenge for the Hawks won’t be Dwight Howard. We probably already know how that is going to unfold. Drew will likely start Twin (Jason Collins) at center, and Dwight will get his. No, the problem will be Jameer Nelson. This guy is driving the Magic bus as much an anyone, and he’s proving himself to be one of the better point guards in a conference that boasts some pretty good younger ones at the position. Averaging 15 points and 7 assists per game is good, but the scary part is Nelson’s shooting. The Magic guard is hitting 49% from the field overall, and nails 40.7% from three point range. If the Hawks can’t clamp down on Jameer Nelson, look for an early blowout, as he’ll feed Dwight and those nasty perimeter shooters on a regular basis once the defense tries collapsing on him. If you don’t believe that it unfolds this way, ask the Chicago Bulls, who endured a 29-point loss at the hands of the Magic several days ago. At the center of it all was none other than Nelson, who shot a blistering 8 of 11 from the field, enroute to a 24 point, 9 assist outing.

So…

YOUR TAKE

1) How do the Hawks stop Jameer Nelson?

2) How do the Hawks make the Magic guard them, and whom do they run the offense through?

3) Can Damien Wilkins make a big impact in this game?

4) Who steps up for the Hawks in this game?

155 comments Add your comment

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
8:47 pm

An amusing idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
8:58 pm

Nire,

Vince may be 3-7 but he hit all 3 of his shots in the 3rd qtr. And the point I was making that we would do better with Jamal offense in the game versus Marvin defensive efforts. Hint: Marvin being called the invisible man… Heck the Orlando crew also said that Marvin was struggling on defense as well. Glad to know someone else agree with me..LOL

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
8:59 pm

Hawks push their lead to 5 to open up the 4th qtr with Jamal scoring 4 of their 6pts…

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:05 pm

JJ Redick makes a contested running layup in transition over Wilkins. What a terrible defensive play by Wilkins. He should be taken out back and shot. With his uncle. Wilkins sucks.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:06 pm

Melvin,

Once again, proving your a liar, an idiot, or both. The Orlando crew called Marvin out for disappearing on offense. They haven’t said anything one way or another about his defense. Once again, Melvin is either lying or talking out of his ass. Surprise, surprise.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:08 pm

Melvin,

I’m sure you’ll find plenty of fellow shortbus riders who agree with you, or other ignorant people whose analyses never go deeper than box score stats who’ll nod their head. Sadly, no honest person who has a functional brain would have agreed that Vince was “having his way” with Marvin.

O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
9:11 pm

Marvin plays good defense, but sometimes his defense is not enough to offset his lack of offense. He did have a few good games against scrub teams, but I would like to see him have a good game against some of the good teams.

Maybe his knee is still sore though, so i think getting Damien was a very good move.

This game will be the joke on ESPN tonight. But I dont care, as long as we win.

O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
9:13 pm

Refs are letting Orlando get away with a lot more than the Hawks can though.

In yesterday’s football game, the refs let the Bucs get away with some holds, but they called ATL for the penalties.

Maybe its a Florida/Georgia thing…

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:14 pm

Marvin does look terrible out there tonight, though. Frankly, there’s no reason for him to be on the floor guarding Carter – Carter is short enough that Mo or Damien could guard him effectively. If Carter were two inches taller, he probably WOULD be scoring at will. Fortunately, Marvin’s height advantage gives him a margin of error against Vince.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:15 pm

As if on cue, Marvin out and Powell in.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:23 pm

Bibby couldn’t buy a basket earlier tonight. He has hit two big ones in the 4th, though.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
9:25 pm

Nire,

You need to turn the volume up on your tv (maybe it will drown out your own voice if anything) b/c Matt Guokas said that Marvin was struggling on both sides of the ball…

You should go over to MC blog and post your Marvin supported comments…

O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
9:26 pm

Win or lose, I like the way we’ve played this game w/o JJ.

When JJ comes back and we play the Magic again, we should be able to beat them, even if Jameer plays.

Here is an interesting stat. In both games against the hawks this seaosn, Magic are 4-22 in each game from 3.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
9:30 pm

OB,

I will take this win over the Magic any way we can get it…

lukas

December 6th, 2010
9:32 pm

First quality win this season!!! half of the Magic team is sick? doesn’t matter to me, I’ll take it!!

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:33 pm

Melvin,

I heard Guokas say that Marvin was struggling to move at both ends of the floor, not that he was struggling in terms of the quality of his play. But hey, little nuances like that go over your tiny little head.

I post over here precisely because the concentration of idiots like you is much lower here. In fact, over here, you’re the only true simpleton who posts regularly. You’re like the slow kid who should be taking remedial classes but that the school district lets into regular ones because there’s no mechanism for forcing him out. I’m not surprised that you agree with the other people over on the blog with lots of other idiots like yourself. It must be nice having so many other people as clueless as you to talk to. Why don’t you stay over there permanently? Seriously, you singlehandedly bring down the average IQ of this blog by about 10 points.

Have a good night, Melvin. Don’t forget – pants first, THEN shoes.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:35 pm

I’ll take it, but this win gets an asterisk because the Magic were clearly slowed by the stomach bug. Seriously – I’d take 3 cases of the flu in order to avoid 1 stomach bug. Yuck.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
9:40 pm

But asterisk or no, that win should be a HUGE confidence booster for the Hawks.

Astro Joe

December 6th, 2010
10:09 pm

Good win tonight. No one has ever discounted wins against us when we’re missing key players, instead, folk grouse about coaches who don’t develop bench depth. So I won’t discount a win against one of the deepest teams in the league.

Very good and controlled game by Josh Smith. I’m still no big fan of either Josh shooting from the perimeter but they are making more than a fair share of them. Marvin looked like he was running in quicksand all night long… I wonder if he reinjured himself in the first half. Old man Bibby is as clutch as ever.

Good to split the Florida trip. Amazing how well the team looks when they don’t allow the opposition a 17-18 point lead.

lukas

December 6th, 2010
10:14 pm

JJ’s injury is starting to look what the Hawks needed: the players have been forced to play together, stronger, and smarter. LD is being forced to be more creative and stand tough to his players. This is the 3rd straigh solid game for this JJ-less team. If this trend of winning based on effort and shared responsabilities keeps on going, it will create an interesting situation (or dilemma?) when JJ comes back.

Astro Joe

December 6th, 2010
10:19 pm

lukas, Hawks were down by 17 against the 76ers at home a few days ago. Yes, they won, but I think it is a stretch to call that a “solid” game. They won a single quarter against Miami two games ago… after looking like scard girls for most of the first half. I wouldn’t so quickly dig a grave for Joe Johnson. I didn;t like the performance that Joe gave us befofre he left, but my guess is his performance was linked to the reason he left… a bum elbow.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
10:23 pm

You need to grow up, seriously. You are the only person on this blog that name call and try to insult others. You have even stoop to lower levels by talking about people that ride the short bus. How insensitive are those comments. My assumption is that most (if not all) folks ride those buses because they have some type of handicap or disability. But the intelligent person that you are will try to make fun of that.

Funny you refer to me as an idiot but you continue to respond to my post. No matter what light you try to put your response in. If you can’t respect what others are saying and make your arguments in a respectable manner, then don’t blog here anymore. Believe me, you will not be missed.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
10:23 pm

Of course my last post was address to Nire but I’m sure he knows that.

lukas

December 6th, 2010
10:33 pm

Astro,

Last year’s team would have never returned after a 17-point deficit. This Joe-less team has done it twice over a weekend. They “manned up” to come back and win it (76ers) or make it a game they should have won (heat). As more games pass, the more used to sharing they’ll get. I am not bashing Joe, i’m just curious about what could happen in terms of “game-play chemestry” when he comes back.

lukas

December 6th, 2010
10:40 pm

I suspect Marvin will have a good game tomorrow, if he is not injured. The guy’s Copperfield act piss me off, but he’s the best SF we have.

Astro Joe

December 6th, 2010
10:46 pm

lukas, hopefully when he returns, we’re not trying to overcome 17 point deficits. I guess I doubt our ability to win 67% of the games when we score less than 95 points (like the last 3 games). Has our defense really gotten that good suddenly?

OK, let me het back to enjoying the win. There will be room for Joe when he returns.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
10:50 pm

Melvin,

You’re absolutely right that comparing you to kids on the shortbus is insensitive. They can’t help their diminished mental capacity. I can be patient when I talk to people like that. You seem to choose to be a total moron. I have no patience for people like you. In any case, using references to the mentally challenged as an insult is not PC, but it’s far from uncommon. I apologize to them. I do not apologize to you.

And during periods where I haven’t posted, 4 different regular posters on this blog have posted to check in and ask what I’ve been up to and why I haven’t been posting. So I know for a fact that I am missed when I don’t post and would be missed if I did. That’s because, as insulting as I am to people who say idiotic or dishonest things, I actually offer basketball analysis that goes deeper than what you can glean from looking at the simple box score in the morning paper. That’s more than can be said for you.

O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
10:52 pm

Good team win. Our offense was inconsistent, but there was effort on defense and rebounding all night.

Glad to see both Al and Josh in double digit rebounding. If they can each get 10 rebounds every night, that will keep us in a lot of ball games.

Props to LD for trying the different lineup, and giving Collins and Etan some PT (although I think he should have started Mo at SG instead of Marvin).

Let’s keep it going with a win against NJ at home tomorrow. We must defend our house.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
10:53 pm

And I’ll note that there are other regular posters on THIS blog who I’ve seen use terms like “retarded,” “shortbus,” and other terms insensitive to the mentally challenged (although I won’t embarrass them by calling them out). You never got in a tizzy over it before. It was only when you were the target that you were offended. You are upset not because the mentally challenged were marginalized, but because you didn’t like being made fun of. So you can drop the false indignation.

Astro Joe

December 6th, 2010
11:02 pm

Damn, the Pats are spanking the Jets like a $2, oops, let’s not go there.

OB, I think we’re learning that neither Marvin nor Mo are fully healthy. Before I got home, Holman said that Marvin was limping badly in the first half. As soon as Damien learns the offense, he may start getting close to 24-28 minutes of PT if those other guys continue to have health issues. I suggested earlier that the Damien signing was related to more than just the need for a wing defender. I think Mo and/or Marvin are fragile… I think that may be the issue.

niremetal

December 6th, 2010
11:13 pm

Alright Melvin, I’m calling a unilateral truce on my insults to you. I assume you’ll continue to post inane comments displaying only a superficial analysis of the game, but I’ll refrain from personally insulting you in reply.

Melvin

December 6th, 2010
11:19 pm

Nire,

That’s where you are wrong. I am not upset. Nothing said on this blog can change my mood. This is pure fun for me. I respect others opinion on here even when they are indifference from mine. What’s the point in calling someone out on a blog? We are all fans enjoying a blog for our favorite team. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong at the liar’s table (as doc would say) to me.

O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
11:38 pm

AJ,

I do think Mo and Marvin are not fully healthy.

A couple seasons ago when Marvin got hurt, it took him awhile to get going again. Could it be deja vu?

I havent seen enough of Damien yet, but if he can give us half of what Marvin gives us (for one seventh of the price), Hawks will have found a bargain.

doc

December 6th, 2010
11:41 pm

missed the game only followed loosely on gametracker but enjoyed coming back to it to find a nine point lead. good stuff from these guys. guess the magic had to put a double asterisk themselves since they lost to a team without their 124 mil man. look forward to catching up but too busy right now.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
7:13 am

That was one of the best wins this team has gotten in a while, and I’d vote it as best win of the season.

Stomach bug or not, the Magic looked no different to me than they did when we last played them. Does Jameer mean more to the Magic than Joe does to us? That’s an argument some might care to make, but the fact and bottom line remains: we beat the Magic fair and square in their own arena, and a win it is. Congrats to the team and coaching staff.

Clearly Marvin and Mo aren’t fully healthy yet. As AJ noted, they aren’t recovering quickly. On the flip side, I’m not all that versed on their injuries and what may or may not affect recovery time, or how quickly they should expect to recover. I’ve seen guys come back and not be themselves for a while, the most glaring case being that of Josh Smith and Al Horford when they had those high ankle sprains a couple years ago. So, I agree that the acquisition of Damien Wilkens was a good one. Again, as AJ noted, allowing Wilkens more playing time should help both guys recover better, as they would get more rest. Better to let them rest and get this out of the way early on, rather than struggle down the stretch with lingering issues.

Having said that, I’d keep Wilkens for the remainder of the season, regardless. Let’s call this a second chance at foresight, if you will…

Somebody send the refs a fruit basket for calling Dwight Howard for nearly one fourth of the fouls he normally commits. That has to be an all time high. Kudos to Jason Collins for his play against Howard. If you can’t appreciate what Collins does for us in a game like this, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
7:24 am

Game observations:

1) Horford and Smith really stepped up in this one, both recording double doubles. Finally, they play like they are grown men against D12 and his crew, and the results are obvious. A key stat that might go unnoticed: 7 blocks between the two of them.

2) Josh Powell is a bench gem. He provides offense, and can pinch hit a bit on the defensive end when we don’t have a big center in the game. He also was a factor on the boards.

3)One more thought on rebounding: we lost that battle 45-42, but it was a tight one, not a domination by the Magic. No asterisk on this game, as the Magic had all of their frontcourt guys (all looking quite healthy, too), except Ryan Anderson (gee whiz).

4) Marvin played good defense when he was in the game. His offense is mostly non-existent, and it could be attributed to injury. Why? Because Marvin usually plays better on offense when Joe isn’t playing, although injury doesn’t explain his disappearing acts earlier in the season. It is what it is. Nice to have Wilkens around. Nice to have offensive contribution from Powell.

5) If you haven’t been giving Bibby credit for what he’s done for this team this season, now is a good time to start. 13 points and 7 assists might not seem like world beating numbers, but if you watched the game, you know what I’m talking about. Either somebody has turned back the clock for Mike, or Larry Drew’s offensive schemes also deserve more credit (I’d put my money on the latter). Either way, Bibby is playing arguably his best ball for us since the first season he was with us.

6) Solid contributions by the bench. Atlanta’s overall committment to rebounding really helped this win. So did the overall committment to defense. The bench helped this happen.

7) Good work by Drew and the coaching staff. These guys came ready to play and stayed focused for the greater bulk of this game, even when the Magic tried to go on their runs. Orlando is a bunch of hot-aired whiners when things aren’t going their way. It was entertaining and refreshing to see. :twisted:

Great win. Now let’s avenge ourselves on New Jersey tonight (hope nobody is too tired).

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
7:27 am

I’m going to attempt a neutral and arbitrary stance on the Niremetal vs. Melvin thing, despite the way it obviously looks. There is very little in the way of intellectual discussion, and I feel that it has run its course as far as the nature of the “conversation.”

I hope the last set of comments of that nature is just that…the last set.

niremetal

December 7th, 2010
8:46 am

No asterisk on this game, as the Magic had all of their frontcourt guys (all looking quite healthy, too), except Ryan Anderson (gee whiz).

I thought you always had been pretty high on Anderson, Ray. Are you saying now that his presence wouldn’t have altered the outcome? :twisted:

Melvin

December 7th, 2010
10:13 am

Ray,

I will try my best to keep it b-ball related from this point…

vava74

December 7th, 2010
10:42 am

Ummm… no commentaries on Teague being glued to bench for the whole game…

… nothing beats a win to erase any of the typical gripes around here!!!

So I will be the dissenting voice:

Jamal was plain horrible for most of the game… but that first shift? My goodness, a guy with two wooden legs and two wooden arms would have manned the offense better.

Due to this, we progressively let the Magic back into the game instead of pounding them when they were down. My guess is that Teague with a blind fold couldn’t have made any worse.

vava74

December 7th, 2010
10:49 am

Also,

Josh had 2 very good quarters and 2 not so good, very much in line with what he has been doing lately.

Astro Joe

December 7th, 2010
12:13 pm

If Teague can’t earn a permanent spot in the rotation (including against elite competition), then the Hawks may not have the luxury of keeping this current collection of 6′4″-6′7″ players.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:39 pm

Niremetal ,

Heh! Anderson can shoot, I like his offensive game. And I’ll say this – a stretch 4 is usually a problem for us. But on a night when the starting stretch 4 can’t get the job done, chances are his backup won’t either.

Funny thing….Anderson is struggling this year. His shooting percentage is down, but so are his minutes. Last season, it was Bass who seemed to be getting the short end of the stick. Now it’s Anderson…

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:40 pm

Melvin ,

No sweat.

AJ ,

Very much agreed. The obvious question is this – who gets voted off the island?

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:44 pm

Vava ,

It’s what you get with Jamal. On the one hand, I absolutely agree that ISO-Jamal killed us on a number of possessions. On the other hand, it saved our butts a few times when we couldn’t seem to get the right combinations of ball and personnel movement. The issue centers on Jamal’s ability to tell when it’s needed, and when it isn’t.

As far as Teague goes, here’s the rub: In those situations where a scorer is needed (i.e., a guy who can create for himself anywhere on the court, even if all he manages is to get to the free throw line), can you count on Teague? I don’t think you’ll need multiple choice to answer that one.

I agree, a win does eliminate many of the usual gripes. Except of course, your gripes about Josh Smith. Those are more consistent than Marvin’s defense or Jamal’s hot sauce dribbling. :lol:

Astro Joe

December 7th, 2010
12:48 pm

Ray, Evans has an expiring contract and Wilkins contract isn’t guranteed until after 1/15. My guess is that Jamal will likely stay for the remainder of the year.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:48 pm

I think we needed the 15 points Jamal scored last night, even if we didn’t need the 17 shots he took (11 of which were misses). And while the ISO thing was more miss than hit, it kept the pressure up. One other thing? Only a single turnover. Lose by 10 or 20, and I’d complain.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:49 pm

Which do you take, AJ ? I say Wilkins. Size advantage, if nothing else. The issue of course, is that Mo knows the offense better.

Big Ray

December 7th, 2010
12:55 pm

Yeah, I figure Jamal is here to stay as well. Getting good, useable value for him may or may not prove difficult, and with Joe struggling prior to injury, it could be hard to justify the offloading of one of your most explosive scorers.

Astro Joe

December 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

While we don’t know for sure that Joe was hurt before leaving, it seems unlikely (at least to me) that he went from perfectly healthy to having a “loose body” floating in his elbow overnight. More likely, the elbow was barking on/off for a while. But if Joe returns around 1/20 (6 weeks) will Sund feel so comfortable that all is well that he would trade Jamal about 4 weeks later? I don’t think so. Cutting Wilkins is easier than trading a player (Evans). The Pape Sy signing was a huge waste of a roster spot… dude was highly unlikely to go from lower-level Euro league to effective defender in a single leap. The fact that he is too hurt to even practice only makes things that much worse.