Hawks would like to fly above the storm

The storm, otherwise known as the Hawks’ March schedule, has begun. Up to this point, few fans had any rock solid confidence that the Hawks could weather such a storm, and the record against winning teams up to this point did little to dissuade pessimistic notions. Do we feel different about that now, though?

 

It’s All About Team

We can complain about having to rally from 19 points down against Chicago (at home, no less) but it probably makes more sense to revel in the fact that it was actually done. Atlanta hadn’t recently shown the ability to rally from that far down in a tough game, or even hold a big lead for that matter. Suddenly, they were able to do it against a team with a better record? While center Al Horford was clearly the hero in that game, there is something else that overshadows it. The Hawks were able to defend….as a team. Not only that, but they did it without Josh Smith, their defensive spark plug. Has the trade that brought Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta really done that much? So it would seem so far, as we’ve seen the Hawks play defense since that day in ways they have hardly done all season.

That has to engender confidence in these guys. Holding down League MVP candidate Derrick Rose was something all by itself. The beauty of it wasn’t just the fact that former teammate Hinrich hounded Rose for three straight quarters. It was the communication between Hinrich and Johnson, who planned to take the job over in the 4th quarter and finish him off. Joe hasn’t had that kind of help before, and judging by the words that came from his own mouth about that strategy, he is very happy to have it now. How about that? The team communicating effectively on defense, then actually executing that strategy to near perfection. I wonder how many are still disgusted or underwhelmed by that trade? Is it too early to give Rick Sund some credit for something that I’m sure a few of us wish he had done 1 or 2 years ago? But hold the phone….this theory will get a second test tonight as the Hawks face another potent point guard.

Thunder in the Distance

Remember how we swept the Boston Celtics during the regular season last year? It was a good feeling until we got the favor returned to us by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the same season. While it’s true that the Thunder are Western Conference team and therefore not an opponent we’ll see often, that doesn’t change the fact that the Hawks shouldn’t want some measure of revenge. Perhaps its not revenge, but instead the need to show another up and coming young/athletic team that they haven’t charged past us in growth. Or have they?

Fact is, the Thunder are going to be harder to deal with, having obtained former Boston Celtics bruiser of a center, Kendrick Perkins.  Fortunately, Perkins won’t be playing tonight, leaving Horford to face Nazr Mohammed or someone like that. When Horford attacks the basket quickly and alternates with that dagger of an 18 foot jumper, he’s downright deadly. How will Larry Drew proceed tonight with Josh Smith likely to be on the sidelines again? Jason Collins might get the call, but the real impact guy down low tonight might be none other than Zaza Pachulia. With this tough stretch of games, the Hawks are going to need the level of play he has provided in the last couple of games. Let’s also not forget that the dynamics of the Thunder’s frontcourt changes with Jeff Green being traded away. Green provided defense, hustle, offense, and energy overall. Could his absence result in a Marvin Williams explosion tonight?

Kirk Hinrich will likely get the start tonight, and Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is on the menu. Or is that the other way around? The physical and forceful point man can dunk it as quickly as he can drain a jumper, and he does a good job of getting the ball to his teammates as well. This could prove to be another good test for Jeff Teague in his role as backup point guard. Let’s all hope he holds his own, as the thought of Jamal Crawford having this task makes me cringe. How about you? On the other side, Kevin Durant isn’t likely to play (and would be limited if he did) due to an ankle injury. While nobody in a Hawks uniform will miss facing the League’s leading scorer, taking the Thunder lightly due to his absence would be a big mistake. This team runs well and hustle well, and they play defense, to boot. As it is, the Hawks can’t afford to take ANYBODY lightly on their remaining schedule.

To ride out the storm, the Hawks will have to fly high. Can they do it? More proof tonight, one way or the other.

You make the pick:

Who is tonight’s potential hero for the Hawks?

Joe returns to form after an ugly shooting performance against Chicago?

Jamal gets his game back on track after a mostly miserable February?

Horford shows there’s more where Wednesday’s performance came from?

Marvin steps up and shines?

You call it…..

 

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest

183 comments Add your comment

Rufus1

March 4th, 2011
5:44 pm

Clever title…. My pick is Joe. I think he will attack with reckless abandon because he doesn’t have to guard Westbrook.

Rufus1

March 4th, 2011
5:51 pm

KrishATL

March 4th, 2011
5:53 pm

Horfy should have a real nice game, something in the 24pts/12 rebounds area. Marvin will likely have another mediocre game, with a timely jumper or two thrown in, but I expect him to grab around 8 rebounds. JJ needs to step, and I think he will. I expect him to be in the 20pt/6 reb/6 assist area.
But the wild card will be the Captain himself, Mr. Kirk Hinrich…I truly believe this is a breakout game offensively for him. He has been a savior since Bibby left on the Defensive side, but I think he steps in tonight and gives us about 15pts/5 rebounds/5 assists and somewhat limits Westbrook. To be honest, Westbrook is a beast…it’s a really tough assignment even for Hinrich, so should be fun tonight. Have a feeling Larry Drew is going to continue to put Hinrich on him till the 4th quarter, till when JJ takes over. and why not…it’s worked so far :)
go HAWKS! predict a 96-90 Hawks win!!

superiorblogman

March 4th, 2011
6:07 pm

Al and Jeff Teague are the only reasons I am even interested in the Hawks because we will not win anything worth talking about

superiorblogman

March 4th, 2011
6:09 pm

Kirk Hinrich sucks his numbers would get Teague sent to Europe

GT Alum

March 4th, 2011
6:12 pm

Would a joke about the phrase “Marvin Williams explosion” be in incredibly poor taste? Because I really don’t foresee the kind you’re talking about.

NATIVE SON

March 4th, 2011
6:46 pm

Hadn’t made a comment in a while Big Ray. I’ve been in grievance for GT BB. Point Gaurd U has become” What’s the Point U’. My pick for tonight; and I just hate giving up on the kid, but Marvin should be more than pumped for tonight. His attitude, and emotion has changed since that NY Knicks tussle. So I say he’s going to play a real solid game, and I don’t have the stats to back it, but he seems to play a little harder with the west coast teams.

Peace from the most Native Son

NATIVE SON

March 4th, 2011
6:58 pm

Ray:I clicked on the link for rufus 1 and it tried to load me up with viruses

OKC Blog

welcometocloudcity

wordsmithtom

March 4th, 2011
7:03 pm

Shutting down Rose gets someone sent to Europe? In what lifetime?

Teague will be ok, in time. But he couldn’t have shut down Rose if LD had given him a Glock.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 4th, 2011
7:23 pm

Durant is playing. Smoove is out. Should be another test for the Hawks’ new look defense. I don’t even mind Durant going off, if the Hawks can contain Westbrook on D and get Al the ball on O.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:28 pm

wordsmithtom ,

But he couldn’t have shut down Rose if LD had given him a Glock.

….or an H&K, or a Sig, or a 1911, or an XD, or…. ;)

GT Alum ,

I’d agree, but three dates (11/2, 12/3, and 12/16) would prove me wrong. Of course, those are more the exception than the rule in the case of Marvin Williams, but it does show that it’s possible, if nothing else.

Rufus1 ,

Thanks! Your 5:51 pm post was a bit interesting….

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:31 pm

superiorblogman ,

If Teague could do what Hinrich does consistently on defense, he would be the starter. Like, last year. I realize that Hinrich doesn’t wow anybody on offense, but all I keep hearing is that he doesn’t have to in this offense. By the way, if Teague was averaging 11 or so points on 45% shooting from the field and 38% from the 3 point arc….again, I’d say he was a starter already. But he isn’t. I think he can do that after another offseason of very hard work. Defense takes experience and hard work. Offense requires hard work and confidence. Teague isn’t very confident on offense, but if he ever gets that way, he’ll be a tough one to deal with.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:34 pm

NATIVE SON ,

Glad to have you back, and I feel your pain. Something has to change there, and it will. You’re right, it’s been a minute since a GT point guard was woth a good look. Last one I can think of was the kid who got caught up in that foolishness with Gilbert Arenas up in Washington with those guns. He hadn’t shown himself to be anything at the time, though bursting with potential (at least physically). Man….that’s pretty sad…I’m actually drawing a blank on his name. How’s that for not cementing your NBA legacy?

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:37 pm

Sorry about the comment removal, Rufus , but the link does seem to have a problem. I didn’t want anybody else clicking on it….

Najeh ,

Figures. OH well, it’s not like I don’t like watching Durant play. But I do NOT want to see him destroy us.

Another key to this will be getting and maintaining a lead. Durantula can kill you in big moments, like last second shots…from anywhere on the floor.

ag

March 4th, 2011
7:40 pm

Naitive Son, you should have checked the stats. You don’t have to look very far because we just came off the West coast. He has only scored 20 points in a game three times – NONE against a West Coast team. Wow only two 10 rebound games (Philly & Wash). Only two games with 3 or more steals..

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:48 pm

KrishATL ,

You might have called this one right, my friend. Kirk’s offense looking pretty good early on.

niremetal

March 4th, 2011
7:54 pm

JJ gets mugged and they don’t even call it a shooting foul. On LeBron, that would be a flagrant 2.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
7:57 pm

Nick Collison. One of the smartest guys to hit the hardwood and a former teammate of Hinrich’s if I recall. Too bad he was a walking injury…

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
8:31 pm

Nire ,

Some of the non-foul calls on JJ drive me crazy.

NATIVE SON

March 4th, 2011
8:32 pm

AG; Sho you right. Wishful thinking on that. Like I said; I hate giving up on this kid, but he might(small might) just go off yet.

NATIVE SON

March 4th, 2011
8:33 pm

Crittendon was his name Big Ray

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
8:34 pm

Bad move by Jamal. Followed by Westbrook not getting called for a charge. We were doing somewhat good before that, though things have been pretty much back and forth.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
8:35 pm

NATIVE SON

That’s right….Javaris Crittendon. Thanks for the reminder, bruh….

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
8:44 pm

Well, not a bad half. We’re in it, and both teams are aware that this could go either way.

Observations:

1) Very solid game from Teague on the offensive end. He did what we need him to do – convert those layups.

2) Durant and Westbrook are who they are – a couple of guys who are top tier at their respective positions. We’ve slowed Westbrook down a little more than we have Durant. The guy who has stepped up and is hurting us has been James Harden.

3) They’re getting to loose balls just a slight bit more than we are, but we’ve been pretty competitive there. We’re also hurting a little on the glass. Part of that has been absence of Josh Smith. Another part has been foul trouble on Al Horford. Another part? The bench. They’ve provided 3 rebounds. Teague has 2 of them. ‘Nuff said.

4) Hawks will have to dig in, regain the lead, and grind the rest of the way.

P.S. – and get Al the ball.

Astro Joe

March 4th, 2011
9:06 pm

Is it too late to vote for Durant?

Astro Joe

March 4th, 2011
9:10 pm

Merry Christmas, Jeff Teague.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:16 pm

Ouch. Teague’s turnover hurt, but you know what?

1) Teague didn’t get us this deficit.

2) Young fella’s gotta get his lumps somehow.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:18 pm

Crappy call on Teague, who was playing some very tight, good D

vava74

March 4th, 2011
9:23 pm

OKC has been on fire the whole game and those TOs are killing us

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:27 pm

Marvin….a pass would’ve been better, son…

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:27 pm

Vava ,

Too true, my friend.

vava74

March 4th, 2011
9:28 pm

OKC have to go cold down stretch. They have to. And we need to execute better on offense.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:31 pm

Nice defense of the rim by Al. Harden is puttin’ it to us…

Man…these turnovers. But I’d rather see us lose because of that than because “we aren’t playing with enough energy” or something like that. Or because our perimeter defense consists of an open gate…

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:33 pm

Is that Jamal I see out there with some good defense???

Another ball lost out of bounds…drat!

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:36 pm

Al….he’s the man to go to…

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:38 pm

Man….you just can’t ask for anything better than the defense Marvin just played on KD. Say what you want about Marvin, but this is what you miss when he’s not there. Joe is the only other guy we’ve had on this team with the size and length to guard like that on a key possession. Maybe Damien…maybe…

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:39 pm

And sometimes it comes down to a single possession like that. But we’ll see. Durantula is a natural assassin. He can still hit a big one on us at any given time. But have to give Marvin credit for that one possession at what might turn out to be a critical moment.

vava74

March 4th, 2011
9:39 pm

With a little bit better execution and bit of luck we could have avoided being in this position

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:41 pm

Are you freakin’ kidding me…the shot doesn’t count? BS

Astro Joe

March 4th, 2011
9:41 pm

Bad switch when Jamal ends up checking Durant. Jamal leading the team in assists tonight with a nice feed to Al in the post.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:42 pm

Yes Marvin, yes!

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:42 pm

Westbrook talking trash….

niremetal

March 4th, 2011
9:43 pm

Terrible shots by Hinrich and Jamal at the end.

vava74

March 4th, 2011
9:45 pm

Stupid three point attempt by Jamal. We needed a two and defense damn it.

And the crowd has been as loud as mortuary house

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:45 pm

Well, I believe we’ve lost this one, but went down fighting very hard.

Westbrook tried to prove he could hit that trey in Hinrich’s face after nailing one with plenty of room behind a screen…..EPIC FAIL. :twisted:

Then, we missed a couple of shots. Turnovers killed us.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:48 pm

You take shots like that when you’re down by that much with such little time left. Not saying it’s a good idea, but it wasn’t unexpected. Have to do better. But really have to avoid this situation with better ball protection to begin with. We threw the ball away too often.

Big Ray

March 4th, 2011
9:51 pm

Ehhh…not a bad loss, though you don’t want a loss either way.

Josh looking absolutely depressed on the sidelines.

I’m disappointed, but not angry. Execution will get better. So will defense. I’ll be glad when Josh is back, too.

vava74

March 4th, 2011
9:51 pm

Crappy crucial non calls too.

Damn is tough being an Hawks fan.

We can ever get too happy.

Astro Joe

March 4th, 2011
9:51 pm

Rathbun waits until there are 20 seconds left to discuss the triple doble antics from the game in OKC. How much LD was angered by the tacky move. Too bad we saw nothing from the players that would indicate they felt disrespected.

Too many turnovers and Harden hurt us badly in that first half, also.

niremetal

March 4th, 2011
9:53 pm

Can’t really put my finger on why, but it seemed like Al was a bit out of sorts tonight. His stat line looked ok, but he just didn’t seem to have the same level of tenacity he did Wednesday. Ah well.

Nice to see Kirk step it up. Westbrook’s stat line may look flashy, but he had to hit some tough shots just to get to 11-23.

This was one of our “better losses” of the year.