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

The Game Has Changed

March 16th, 2011
5:45 pm

Astro Joe- Those tickets were for standing room only

Sautee

March 16th, 2011
6:22 pm

vava,

“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).”

Not saying that Melo is not overrated, BUT, because NY gave up so much, Denver is overall much deeper and more talented than they were with Melo. Therefore I don’t think that Denver’s post Melo record is a reflection of whether or not he’s overrated. They just have more and better parts.

Conversely NY is not as good, even with Melo and Billups, because they are now a thin team, and Melo doesn’t even give them the defense that Chandler did.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 16th, 2011
7:15 pm

I don’t disagree that Melo has historically been a subpar defender, but from what I’ve seen of the post-trade Knicks, the defensive weak link is Chauncey Billups, not Melo. When Toney Douglas plays, that team looks very good defensively.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
7:24 pm

I am not watching the game. 8 shots by Josh, nearly all from the perimeter?

I knew that our mind set would be wrong and LD is not man enough to bench him.

Now he will put in Jamal to try to get us more points and outscore DEN.

Down by 15 by mid second.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
7:31 pm

I think LD benched Josh not because he went 1-8 in the first 6 minutes, but because at that rate (assuming he plays 36 minutes), he would take 48 shots in the game. But hey, he learned every play for every position in LD’s scheme.

vava, yeah, about half of those FGAs were bad shots. Meanwhile, he was being putplayed by Kenyon Martin… who played with Truck Robinson.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
7:35 pm

Hinrich is so silly… he keeps thinking that Josh will pass him the ball after getting a defensive rebound. Silly rabbit.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
7:46 pm

Glad that I was wrong… things are improving… minus Josh’s shots and we would up by 20…

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
7:49 pm

Im glad LD realized Jamal at backup PG was leading to penetration, so he brought Hinrich back in. Hawks are so much better defensively with teague or Kirk at point guard

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
7:52 pm

And it frees Jamal to be a jump shooter. Meanwhile, Teague seems to be in full Royal Ivey mode tonight.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
7:55 pm

OK, take Jamal out please. He has gone completely rogue now.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
7:59 pm

Why do the hawks insist on goin to JJ almost every time down?

And Josh is 0-9 from the perimeter, 3-3 in the paint.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:01 pm

oh brother… JJ is back to his cross-eyed form, the team has gone jump shot happy with a bad case of Jamalitis…

unless things change dramatically and very very soon, things will go south really quick.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:03 pm

Joe had taken only 2 shots prior to that recent run… LD probably reminded the team that allowing Joe to get some touches may be a decent idea. Same for Al. 7 FGAs between those two is poor shot management.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:04 pm

I hate those fouls. Foul him hard al! And once again, hawks go to JJ. WHY?

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:06 pm

O’B,

JJ only has 6 attempts so far tonight. Should he not get the ball the rest of the game? Again, I just don’t get your mentality of “Joe was bad early. Therefore Joe will be bad the whole game. And everyone should realize that.”

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:12 pm

I hope that Al and Joe get the VAST majority of shots to start the 3rd quarter. The first half shot distribution is utterly ridiculous and screams of selfish play and poor decision-making.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:14 pm

nire,

I disagree, the way that JJ got stuffed/air balled twice in the paint and missed the two 3 pointers is a clear sign that he is not feeling it.

Whenever JJ starts like this he RARELY gets it going, in particular lately.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:14 pm

Al and Joe need to get the vast majority of touches to start the second half. And I hope that he is riding these guys for the first half shot distribution… it was embarassing.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:20 pm

Vava,

Lately, maybe. Over his career, no. For most of career, he has been a better second half scorer than first half. In ‘08-’09, the most recent year for which 82games breaks it down, he averaged 4.9ppg in the first quarter, 4.5ppg in the second, 6.2 in the third, and 6.2 in the fourth.

JJ’s pattern during most of his career was to take it a bit easy early on and then be more aggressive (often to the point of dominating the ball) in the second half. Is it more likely that JJ will have a bad second half after he’s had a bad first half? Yeah, ok. But what do we expect JJ to do on nights where he’s not feeling? Just not touch the ball? Tell the coach “take me out?” What All-Star do you know who does that?

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:21 pm

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:23 pm

nire,

I’m not saying dont go to him. But the Hawks went to him like 3 out of 4 possessions. i think they should do a better job mixing it up…

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:24 pm

OB, I’m guessing that LD reminded the team that Joe needed to “get his”. Heck, everyone else was taking theres.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:25 pm

And what do you know. JJ is 0-4 from 3’s (although one was with the shot clock running down). And his 3’s have not even been close.

But hey, why should I expect him to stop taking 3’s for the rest of this game, despite being 1-7 overall, and 0-4 from 3…

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:26 pm

Really, no one looks good offensively tonight, Zaza’s hustle points notwithstanding.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:26 pm

AJ,

Good point. Hawks need to run the ball, but they can’t seem to get the running game going.

Meanwhile, the team is 1-9 from 3. Ouch.

And to think Hawks once led by 12.

Hawks need to go to Al more, and Joe less (imo)

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:26 pm

O’B,

Name me an All-Star who does that. I’ll wait.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:27 pm

Hell, name me a double-digit scoring guard who does that.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:27 pm

nire,

I’m not singling out JJ. I’m singling out the all-stars who dont do it :smile:

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:27 pm

nire,

the issue is now that JJ us taking it slowly, pacing himself, being team oriented.

the issue is that his body language looks like crap and is in line with all the recent games in which he played poorly.

I am developing a theory that JJ is veeeeeery sensitive to pet hatreds and I am under the impression that his game tonight is a direct consequence of Smoove’s horrible shot selection: it puts him off the same way I believe that Bibby and Jamal also did/does (for their respective reasons).

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:28 pm

OB, Joe wasn’t the guy with 10 FGAs in the first 18 minutes of the game.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:30 pm

And what do you know. JJ with an assist to Hinrich for 3, and then JJ makes a 3 :smile:

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:33 pm

Vava,

You may be right. If that’s the case, all the more reason that the core needs more shaking. And also JJ needs to grow the eff up. Wade does the same thing in Miami, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like him. When his teammates were going rogue and sucking at it, his body language would just be awful.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:35 pm

The Nuggets are playing very, very physically. It’s clearly rattled the Hawks.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:35 pm

That also may be why the guys who look the least-bad have been Hinrich and Zaza.

niremetal

March 16th, 2011
8:38 pm

Something else I’ve noticed though – since the trade, Jamal’s defensive effort has improved noticeably. Maybe he saw the writing on the wall.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:39 pm

I don’t think Joe nor Al should go well into the 2nd quarter before getting their 3rd or 4th FGA. If Joe was bent out of shape, it wasn’t because his teammates were super hot.

Funny, in previous years when the young bigs complained about not getting the ball, no one seemed to mind. Tonight, one young big took 5x more shots than the other.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:41 pm

nire,

let’s hope that you are right and I am wrong… he seems to be heating up a bit.

I would pray, but I am an atheist…

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:43 pm

I like what we are getting from ZaZa tonight.

Its funny to hear LD talk about Josh establishing himself inside first, but that never seems to happen.

And I agree that Jamal’s effort on D seems to have improved after the trade.

Ok AJ, over or under…19.5 points scored by the Hawks in the 4th.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:44 pm

He missed but that was the type of aggressive shot attempt you have to live withby Marvin… if you want him to stop the disappearing acts and show some aggression.

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:46 pm

OB, under… they are completely out-of-synch in this game. The quotes later will be something like “we settled, we never found our rhythm, we didn’t share the ball”… that nonsense.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:49 pm

Nothing short from a major revolution on how we are playing will save us.

LD has gone back to Jamal at the PG slot.

The result has been more or less the same as usual: discombobulated offense.

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:51 pm

I havent looked at any of the numbers, but my eye test tells me that when Josh struggles with his jumper, he is more likely to struggle defensively (or with fouls)…

Hawks cut the lead to 5. We need one more stop, and a bucket…

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
8:53 pm

vava,

Ask…and ye shall receive.

Hawks cut the lead to 5. We need one more stop, and a bucket….

And what do you know. A stop…and a bucket :smile:

AJ,

Hawks are well on their way to over…

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:54 pm

horrible shot by Jamal… thank god Zaza is on tonight

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
8:54 pm

And after scoring 28 points in the first half of yesterday’s game, Joe may have follishly expected to be fed and fanned to start this game.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
8:56 pm

I hope that I am wrong but when JJ comes in, I think he will miss a couple of shots and the game will go away…

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
9:00 pm

The game may already be gone. 8 point deficit.

vava74

March 16th, 2011
9:00 pm

we never reached that point :-D

O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
9:01 pm

JJ has 10 on the shot clock, with NeNe on him. What does he do? Take a jumper. Doesnt anybody know how to drive anymore?

Astro Joe

March 16th, 2011
9:01 pm

Bad settle shot… got to take nene off the dribble.