Atlanta Hawks – Slippery slope part II

It’s happening again. The Atlanta Hawks are slipping, and they’re gaining speed as they go down the slope of losing. Sure, teams struggle and that is the nature of the game. Struggling like this is a different story, though.

Writing On the Wall

Rick Sund said the Hawks were essentially playing to stay within the 3rd to 5th seed range of the playoffs. Perhaps we can guess that this means retaining as much as the 5th seed in a conference that has experienced some major moves that have increased the talent level, is acceptable. Maybe this is a reasonable thought, considering that the Hawks would have been hard-pressed to make any moves that could match the splashy significant of the triumvirate in Miami, the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony in New York, or the move that brought Deron Williams to New Jersey. In fact, the only move the Hawks did make seemed rather vanilla to most folks. Sure, it was a good move, but it was never going to be enough. Sund indicated that what the Hawks needed most was to change from within.

So, as the Hawks’ chemistry continues to be a problem, what seemed a distant threat at one time is now creeping up with a nearly inevitable feel – the Hawks are going to fall into the lower seeds of the playoff bracket. Fortunately, they won’t have to worry about falling completely out of the playoffs. Indiana is currently the 8th seed in the conference with a whopping 27 wins, while trying to stave off Charlotte, who has an identical record. So, the Hawks don’t have to worry about teams that are 10 games behind them.

But what of New York and Philadelphia, the current sixth and seventh seeds in the Eastern Conference?

 The Knicks now have a serious swagger and the talent to back it up. They still don’ t play defense well enough to win against the upper echelon of either conference on a consistent basis, but they’re a more credible threat than most, what with their star power. At 34 victories and with a 6-4 record in their last 10 games, the Knicks could overtake the stumbling Hawks.

The Sixers are going about their business much more quietly, but they too have now managed 34 victories after beating Boston tonight. Their record in the last 10 games? Eight victories, two losses. Like the Knicks, the Sixers have struggled at times against the better teams in the League, but they’ve pretty much stomped on those with inferior records. Worse yet, they have something else in common with New York – both have proven they can beat the Hawks into the hardwood this season.

Can Atlanta win enough to keep these two teams in their current places? Or is the writing already on the wall?

 

Cancelled Due to a Lack of Interest…

The way things are going, I can’t tell who is less interested right now – the fans or the players. Maybe both realize that not much is going to change this season. It was nice for a minute, watching the Hawks play better defense. However, this offensive ineptitude gets tiring really quickly. Some moments, the team seems like they’re sleepwalking while one player tries to do too much (usually resulting in a turnover these days). Other moments show frustration from some players (again…usually resulting in a turnover) and perplexingly subpar play from the team’s best players. All the while, the post game quotes and comments are becoming more and more bleak. Or should we say, apathetic? Larry Drew seems to have lost or let go of the reins to this stagecoach.  Tonight’s game clearly showed that once again, he’s talking to nobody in particular when it comes to his game plan. Are his days numbered as well?

It’s not that the Hawks are the only team struggling. There have been tears in Miami and anger and outrage in Orlando.  Even fans of the reining League Champs have something to gripe about. No, the Hawks aren’t the only ones with problems. But it just might be that they are the only ones who don’t seem to care.

 

UP NEXT

With 17 games left to play, the Hawks return to Atlant for a six game homestand that may or may not help stabilize things. First on tap are the Portland Trailblazers, a team that Atlanta beat on the road a couple of weeks ago with doses of offensive effectiveness from Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Between the lackluster play from the Hawks and the Blazers’ dual bid of wresting 5th place from Denver while staving off 7th place New Orleans, there is just no way to predict how this might turn out. But if the Hawks can’t find a way to motivate themselves to play better at home (at least), then they are likely to keep right on sliding….

 

….right down that slippery slope.

 

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog

344 comments Add your comment

niremetal

March 15th, 2011
8:38 pm

If JJ doesn’t keep wearing the headband after tonight…well, it won’t mean anything but superstitions are silly and JJ doesn’t seem the type to buy into them. But still, a big part of me hopes he keeps wearing it anyway :)

O'Brien

March 15th, 2011
8:41 pm

nire,

Maybe JJ is wearing one of Josh’s headbands…

He should continue wearing it though, like Rip Hamilton kept wearing the mask for a long time after he was better

richbrave

March 15th, 2011
9:14 pm

Just a quick note. Thank you Mr. SUND. JORDAN CRAWFORD gets his first start as a WIZARD and drops 21 on the BULLS …….. in the first half alone. The young man is ON FIRE including 3-4 from 3-point land. I mean, he’s stroking it. Again, thank you RICK.

lukas

March 15th, 2011
9:16 pm

JC2 damn!!

I knew that trading this kid was a mistake, but he is proving it in a big way!!

superiorblogman

March 15th, 2011
9:34 pm

Big Ray go jump off the nearest bridge. The truth will remain the truth no matter what your opinion is. My notes were all facts. Yours are not. Good win for the Hawks tonight. JJ came back to life, Josh Smith played well, Al played well, Marvin played well, Jamal did not force things and Teague outplayed Jennings.

Melvin

March 15th, 2011
9:44 pm

Oh my, Jordan Crawford has 25pts on 9-15 shooting with 3mins left in the 3rd qtr….

O'Brien

March 15th, 2011
9:54 pm

So many of us bloggers thought Rick should have traded jamal in the offseason, and let Mo Evans and JC2 handle the backup SG spot. Now we get to see JC2 get some PT, and he has excelled.

Sure, he will have his bad games, but he has alot of potential. I’m happy for the young-fellow.

I hoped we could have gotten Kirk for Bibby and a 1st, because it would have been nice to keep JC2…

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
10:09 pm

superiorblogman ,

No facts in your 3:18 a.m. post (which was removed), just racially-charged accusations against other posters. The warning stands. End of conversation.

As for jumping off a bridge, I can’t help you there.

Melvin

March 15th, 2011
10:18 pm

Javale McGee would have a triple double if he could score 1 more point… 12rebs and 12blks….LOL

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
10:23 pm

O’brien ,

Yeah, you know how that goes. You have to admit though, that’s the first time in who knows how long that a young guard has been let go from the team, only to show initial potential elsewhere. Salim’s out of the League and Acie is a journeyman type already.

I wish Jordan Crawford well, and didn’t want to see him traded.

Melvin

March 15th, 2011
10:25 pm

Congrats to Javale he got his triple double with a dunk and then got a tech for hanging on the rim….LOL

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
10:27 pm

And to be honest, Damien Wilkins makes me forget all about Mo Evans.

I’m glad to see Joe breakout like this. I don’t know what it took, but we need more of it. Good to see 2 wins in a row. We’d only seen that from this team one other time since February 5th.

In fact, it was nice to see the offense get in a groove as a whole, while maintaining a defensive posture.

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
10:34 pm

Nice to see Teague do well in his second straight start.

I’m glad Josh picked up the slack on the glass, what with Horford being subpar in that category. I’m assuming that was due in large part to his sore ankle.

21 turnovers? A little scary, but clearly a pretty high FG percentage and some good defense overcame it. Against a better team, that would be a killer, so we need to tone that down. The two biggest culprits were Josh and Jamal (go figure). But…I can’t really bash Jamal for that when he had 8 freakin’ assists.

Marvin Williams – I still like him coming off the bench. It really seems to work out better that way. Now…will LD keep this lineup except when bigger ones are needed (like against Orlando)?

Does Teague get to keep his starting job (why not)?

Will the Hawks forget about sharing the ball the way they did tonight (31 assists!), or will they remember. This group isn’t known for sticking with what works for very long. Here’s to hoping that will change very quickly, but not holding our collective breath…

Ken Strickland

March 15th, 2011
10:47 pm

BIG RAY-You know as well as I that Drew wasn’t going to play or develop Jordan Crawford. He’d be lucky if Drew allow him to even dress for most gms down the stretch. He’s demonstrated that he shares Woodson’s disdane for playing and developing younger guards.

niremetal

March 15th, 2011
10:48 pm

I didn’t like us including JC2 in that deal, but it sounds like Washington was insisting on both young talent and a draft pick. A part of me is hoping that this is just an example of bad team stat inflation. We’ve all seen guys go nuts in the last month of the season on bad teams (remember Shelden winning Rookie of the Month?). But I have a sneaking feeling JC2 is at least to end up as a Flip type during his career.

richbrave

March 15th, 2011
10:55 pm

MO E is good bench depth at three even though I’m sure he doesn’t want it that way. CRAWFORD became the target of that excellent CHICAGO d mid-way through the third, and they just kept the ball out of his hands. Still he had 27, and several nice pass assists, and boards. Not too much defense, but that’ll come I think. By the mid-fourth, he was just out of gas. Played 46 minutes. Tried several shots and was short each time. The talk was all about McGEE and his triple double. Nary a post-game comment about a young man who grew a lot in my estimation this evening – JC15 [WALL is 2}.

richbrave

March 15th, 2011
10:59 pm

Ken Strickland

March 15th, 2011
10:47 pm
BIG RAY-You know as well as I that Drew wasn’t going to play or develop Jordan Crawford. He’d be lucky if Drew allow him to even dress for most gms down the stretch. He’s demonstrated that he shares Woodson’s disdane for playing and developing younger guards.

Hey KEN:

Sorry the HAWKS don’t do that. Glad the WIZARDS will do that. What’s eating the HAWKS inside game anyway?

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
11:03 pm

Ken ,

Sorry bro’, but I’m not going to let you drag me onto the anti-Drew train, LOL. I have my issues with him, but I’m not going to assume he NEVER would have played the kid at all. I actually understood the lack of playing time for Jordan. The kid wasn’t going to take minutes from Joe at SG, and he can’t defend, so what makes him better than Jamal right now? Nevermind, I don’t wanna argue the point…

Having said that, I still tend to look at things from an asset management standpoint. If Jordan could provide what Jamal does, then he does so at less of a price and we can let Jamal go. But Jordan hasn’t proven anything just yet. Just that he’s not afraid to shoot the ball, and he can score. Can he blow up and hit a team for 30+ points on any given night? We don’t know. But it will be the Wizards that find out….

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
11:10 pm

Nire ,

I think it’s clear that you’re right: the deal would have been a no-go without including JC2. I can’t blame the Wiz or the Hawks for that one, and the fact is, I’m glad the deal got done. We would have been hard-pressed to find another guy who could defend opposing PGs with gusto the way Hinrich does, and then slide over to the SG spot so Teague could get his burn. On top of that, we got another big man prospect of sorts, who may be able to help us towards the end of the bench.

From a purely basketball business standpoint, Hilton Armstrong is taller and more athletic than Josh Powell. I’ll take him in place of Powell next season, just like I’ll take Damien Wilkins in place of Mo Evans.

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
11:13 pm

RichBrave ,

Can’t blame the Wiz at all. They’re young all over the place, so of course JC2 will get his burn. I’m glad for him, it would have been a tough path in the ATL, and unless the Hawks were looking to move JC1, it would have remained tough.

Enjoy the kid. He has no hesitation with the ball in his hands, and as we already knew, he can pass the ball, too. Hope and pray he gets beyond his ATL namesake when it comes to defense, because right now he’s worse than Jamal is. And that’s no mean feat. The good news is that the kid can learn. Jamal is kinda beyond it.

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
11:15 pm

Maybe it’s too small of a sample, but I think games like this are just more proof that Smith simply does better when he’s playing the 4 spot. His rebounds are up, and so are his blocks. He just can’t block shots or rebound like that when he’s running around the perimeter with opposing SFs.

Big Ray

March 15th, 2011
11:20 pm

Oh….and don’t hand the Knicks the 5th seed just yet. While we were beating the brakes off Milwaukee, they were lost a shootout with the Indiana Pacers, 119-117.

Seriously, they gave up damn near 120 points to the Pacers?

How about this – they also got a beat down from Tyler Hansbrough, who was the game-high man. That’s right. Dude led all scorers with 30 points. No, seriously. NY swag took a hit. That was just plain ugly. I wonder if Amare has something smart to say about that , after all the trash talking he tried to do with Al Horford (who is better than Hansbrough any day)?

Melvin

March 15th, 2011
11:41 pm

Vava,

Jamal had the highest (30) +/- tonight…LOL

JSS

March 16th, 2011
2:14 am

Playoffs must be getting near, all the bloggers are getting testy!

Wow, I went to sleep the other night and Stretch called me out! Be gads!

Well, finally found the chink in the Knicks armor. Those dudes still have not realized they better make some stops!

The Hawks may have have finally found a balance in that roster. I just hope they keep riding their strengths, and don’t revert when they get punched in the month again…

Have a great night…

vava74

March 16th, 2011
2:30 am

Melvin,

Even a broken watch is right twice a day!

Now, seriously: I will watch the game later and post my comments then.

I have no gripe against Jamal as an individual: I don’t think his problem is not caring, I think his problem is that he can’t help being as he is, so my gripe is with LD for overusing him when he is not playing well.

So when he does plays well, I AM HAPPY for HIM and for the Hawks.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
2:33 am

Ray,

Al may be a lot better than Tyler Hansbourough, however, Al has a tendency to shy away from tough match ups. He is kind of a softie and less and less “the Boss”.

Tyler has limited physical (and even technical) tools but is tough as nails, so its the second time he took it to NYK in just a week (29 and 30 pts last two games).

Note as well that Billups is washed up defensively and that many PGs are having career nights against him. Obviously he is still a force offensively but he is getting burned big time this year.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
4:26 am

wordsmithtom

March 16th, 2011
7:20 am

Big Ray, it might be fun…..

http://www.freakingnews.com/Bungee-Jumping-Pictures-24293.asp

I’ll jump if you will…..:)

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
9:29 am

Nice to be on the right side of a blow-out. Also good to see another team quit in mid-game.

According to Steve Holman (radio call), Bogut body-slammed Marvin and then scored on the next possession for the Bucks. It seems that someone should have given Bogut a hard foul if he truly mugged Marvin (I understand that Holman is good for hyperbole so I’m guessing it wasn’t quite the violent crime he made it out to be).

nire, JC2 as a young Flip is a good call. I hope that it happens for him. If he ever learns how to defend, he could be more than a nice piece off the bench for a bad team.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
10:04 am

AJ,

In addition to defense, I think he will have to improve his shot selection if he wants to be a starter on a playoff team.

Big Ray,

The kid wasn’t going to take minutes from Joe at SG, and he can’t defend, so what makes him better than Jamal right now? .

He isn’t. But assuming we lose Jamal next year, we will be in the market for a backup SG. And keep in mind that with JJ playing minutes at SF, there are more minutes available at SG.

As for the Knicks, they are 6-6 since the Carmelo trade. Ouch.

However, they are still capable of big games (they did beat Miami in Miami). I think D’Antoni is a bad coach for them, because the players are not known for their defense, and the coach does not care about defense. That’s a bad combination (imo).

vava74

March 16th, 2011
10:19 am

OB,

Not only D’Antoni is not an ace-HC but also ‘Melo is also a bit on the overrated side (look at Denver’s records since his departure).

Two ball hungry scorers who only play D (and rebound in Amare’s case) when they are “up to that” due to “personal reasons” and not due to a “desire to win every night” is always a difficult combo to work with.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
10:25 am

OB, SGs who can play 15-20 minutes/game are a dime a dozen. Sund was wrong to believe that he could waste a draft pick for a need a year away. This team needs guys who can contribute immediately. Instead of a “designated scorer”, I’d like to see Sund bring in someone with a complete game at back-up SG. Assuming he is healthy, I’d love to see Azubuike join the Hawks next season (as an example).

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
10:45 am

Al may be a lot better than Tyler Hansbourough, however, Al has a tendency to shy away from tough match ups. He is kind of a softie and less and less “the Boss”.

I hate to say it, but this is the direction Al has been going. Maybe it’s just the natural progression that happens when you go from proving yourself to being an All-Star – you have less to prove, so you go to more of a finesse game. But Al’s shooting way more jumpers this year than last year and is mixing it up a lot less inside defensively. I wouldn’t call him a softie yet. But he’s definitely not the blue collar guy he was in his first couple seasons.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
10:56 am

One more symptom of that: Even though Al’s FG% is noticeably up from last year (.565 from .551) and his FT% is slightly up (.800 from .789), his TS% is basically identical (.595 instead of .594). That’s because he’s getting far less of his offense at the free throw line than he did last year. Last year, he had 3.14 FG attempts for every FT attempt. This year, it’s up to 4.90 FGA/FTA. Put another way, free throws accounted for 18.6% of Al’s points; this year, it’s down to 12.6%. That’s huge for a one-year shift.

With Josh, it’s similar. Despite the fact that his free throw percentage is up drastically from last year (.731 vs. .618), he is getting a lower percentage of his points at the line (18.2% vs. 20.6%).

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
10:58 am

nire, I thinnk Al decided last summer that he is a PF and regardless of who he has to defend, he is playing PF this season. I also suspect that today’s PF would rather be “skilled” than bang. Although the truly elite are able to do both.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
10:59 am

For future reference, these are the things I view stats as very useful for – if you look beyond the box scores, you can see trends in players’ games. None of what I just said indicates whether Josh or Al is playing “better” or “worse” than they did last year. But it does indicate that they are playing the game quite differently.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
11:18 am

nire, I think those stats validate what is pretty obvious as we have watched the season unfold.

In terms of “skill gaps”, finding someone capable of generating FTAs may be something that Sund should try to address this summer. Last year we were dependent on the iso play, this year we live and die by the jumper. At some point, this team needs a solid Plan B (either run constantly, even after made baskets, or pay rent at the free throw line).

doc

March 16th, 2011
12:28 pm

then there is the question nire as to what is truly statiscally significant on any number especislly those of josh. what is the p value on the difference between 18 and 20. i doubt much at all.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
12:50 pm

AJ,

The problem is getting a more complete backup player given the money the Hawks spend on backups. And they will probably only give 1 year offers.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
12:53 pm

Doc, I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not. P values? You do realize that the concept of P values has zero relevance to these types of statistics, right? I mean, what’s the null hypothesis here that’s being tested?

Ken Strickland

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

BIG RAY-I’m not going to let you make me out to be anti Drew, because that’s nothing more than a misconception on your part. While there are certain things about Drew that I have a disdane for, it doesn’t mean I have a disdane for him. I still consider him to be a definite upgrade over Woodson.

I do have a disdane for the Woody side of him that seems to rear its ugly head far too often to suit me. It’s hurt Teague’s development, created undue problems for his teammates, and hurt the team overall. Correct those issues, and we have a COY candidate. Let’s face it, with Bibby gone, and Teague forcing him to reconsider his bias against him, we just might end up with something special anyway.

NIREMETAL-I don’t think the Hawks, as currently constructed, can reasonably expect to increase it’s chances of getting to the FT line. We just don’t have players that consistently finish strong enough to consistently draw fouls. While JSmoove and Horford are our 2 best inside scorers, neither consistently finishes strong at the rim, and they both rely at lot on jump shooting.

JJ also has difficulty finishing strong at the rim, although he has the size and height, he lacks the athleticism to do so. Marvin actually does a better job of drawing fouls going to the rim than anyone else, but he doesn’t do it often. We have players that are very effective scoring consistently in the lane, but not at the rim.

If we continue playing solid overall DEF, and consistently play uptempo, fast breaking OFF, then getting to the FT line more often won’t really matter. Do you remember the numerous fouls Portland committed while trying to stop us from finishing fastbreaks?

Having said all of that, the ability to play sound half court OFF, and getting to the FT line, is definitely a big advantage in the playoffs.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
1:42 pm

I’ve just finished watching the game and I must say that although it was relieving to watch such an easy win (even post mortem voyeurism can have some emotion if the game is tight) it left me a bit apprehensive for tonight.

This was basically a scrimmage since the Bucks – with the exception of Bogut and Delfino – simply never left Wisconsin.

It was a game where all our jumpshots simply went in, which makes it a bad formula for next matches, specially since our guys seem to lose focus quite quickly after easy wins and fail to show up.

We did show some defensive consistency with Teague doing a good job at keeping Jennings uncomfortable right from the start (by the way, he was horrible and seems to be struggling to recover from his injury) but… I don’t know, I feel weary about tonight.

I wish we could finish this home stand 6-0…

Even Jamal was active defensively.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
1:47 pm

I was a little surprised to receive an email this morning from the ASG Sales team that they still have Heat tickets available for Friday evening. The Heat… on a Friday evening? Wow.

Beer me (on sunday)

March 16th, 2011
3:10 pm

This one is to Georgia and alcohol on sundays!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TOM_UuQzc0

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

Vava,

I will be surprised if JJ has 2 good games in a row.

Something else I will be watching for is if the hawks are behind, and teague is not playing as solid as he did the last 2 games…does LD stick with him? Or does he go to Jamal at backup PG?

AJ,

I assume hawks fans will boo Lebron and Wade, but will they boo Bibby? I think bibby should be cheered before the game starts. But once the game starts, he is a heat and should be booed.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 16th, 2011
4:27 pm

Bibby should be cheered, at least during player intros. He was a waste of space this year but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be appreciated for helping lift this team from the lottery into the playoffs. Whether or not he actually will be cheered, though, is anyone’s guess.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 16th, 2011
4:31 pm

“How about this – they also got a beat down from Tyler Hansbrough, who was the game-high man. That’s right. Dude led all scorers with 30 points.”

Hansbrough beasted on them when they played at MSG last week too. Ever since they fired their old coach, who refused to play him, he’s gotten more playing time and has produced accordingly.

Funny how that works, huh?

The Game Has Changed

March 16th, 2011
5:32 pm

@Najeh Davenpoop- I disagree with you saying Bibby was a waste of space this year. Maybe Marvin or Za Za. Bibby conducted himself well dealing with this new system. Its just not good for our team. Fans such as myself really know his value the last three years.

The Game Has Changed

March 16th, 2011
5:38 pm

O’Brien-Its late in the season. LD has to find a solid rotation and stick to it. Teague and Hinrich are backups. So LD has to decide which backup is the starter.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
5:42 pm

Hansbrough was hurt for a good chunk of the season (as I recall). And I thought McRoberts had been playing well for them earlier as well.

Bibby won’t be cheered (unfortunately). I think the widely held opinion is that he could have morphed into Russell Westbrook but opted for a slightly better version of Ty Lue. So I expect him to get very little love from the fans.