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.
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