Playoffs – Hawks face Magic, face themselves

Saturday, April 16th can be the beginning of the end for the Hawks. Or, maybe the beginning of the end was several games back in the regular season, when they got trounced by the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that had no business beating Atlanta by 41 points. The Hawks insist it’s not over, that they’ll rise in the playoffs, that a season record against Orlando is proof that they can win this otherwise dreaded first round playoff series. Losing six straight games to end the season hasn’t given fans and experts any reason to believe the Hawks, and some have already written them off for the postseason.

So perhaps few people believe in the Hawks. What reasons do they have for believeing in themselves? Does a 3-1 regular season record against the Magic really mean anything in the playoffs? All such speculation and pondering aside, let’s dive into some matchups:


Talent and star power make a big difference in the game of basketball, but there can be no substitute for solid, good, or elite coaching in the NBA postseason. Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy is a veteran coach who has been deeper in the postseason than Atlanta’s Larry Drew has, and he’s been there with his current team the last few years. Van Gundy and the Magic have endured some rough moments this season, and despite “sinking” to 4th place in the East, they still managed to put up 52 wins. That’s pretty solid, considering that they changed their core pretty drastically. Talent can get you far, but you need solid coaching as well to overcome such obstacles. Van Gundy has the edge here not only with experience, but also with motivational capability. He can get more out of the Magic than Drew was able to get out of the Hawks. The Magic players listened more to Van Gundy than the Hawks did to Drew. Why would that change for the playoffs? Lastly, there is the ever present issue of strategy, or Xs and Os. Van Gundy’s guys know how to do what they do, and the formula is simple – feed Dwight, and then hit outside shots by the bunches when the defense collapses on Dwight. In the case of the Hawks, Drew’s offensive formula seemed like a good thing in the beginning. However, statistics have shown that either the system simply does not work, or the Hawks players haven’t bought into it nearly well enough to make it work. You can argue this one either way, but the results speak for themselves. The results make the effusive Charles Barkely seem absolutely correct in his opinion about former head coach Mike Woodson…

The Magic win this category.


The Stars

Orlando’s Dwight Howard is a more dominating individual force on either end of the court than anybody on Atlanta’s roster. Basically, the rest of the Magic roster is supporting cast. Howard is tough to deal with and is all but guaranteed to get 20-something points and get up into the teens in rebounds. At the same time, he has all but worn out his welcome with NBA officials. Expect Howard to get more calls (and non-calls) than any Hawks fan will agree with, but don’t think that he’ll get away with everything. The offensive fouls and technicals mounted up this season, prompting an scathing complaint from his coach. Howard will do what he does, but without adequate support, it might not be enough.

The Hawks have what should be an advantage when it comes to star power. Joe Johnson is a 21 point/5 rebound/5 assist threat anytime he hits the court, though he fell off of that this past regular season. Joe’s body language and attitude in the wake of a massive max contract have rubbed many fans the wrong way, and the playoffs will be his chance to make people think differently of him. He can’t repeat last postseason’s miserable performance for the Hawks to have a chance at success, but there is already a caveat in place, however slight it might be. Clearly Joe has not recovered from all of his injuries (bad thumb), and though he always plays through injury, it’s silly to think it will not have any effect on his game. For what it’s worth, both Joe and those around him think he’s in the right mind/mode for the playoffs.

Al Horford, Atlanta’s other multiple all-star has to get back to his roots. Said another way, if the guy who showed up in his rookie year against eventual ‘08 NBA Champion Boston Celtics happens to show up in THIS series, the Hawks have an even better chance of advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Horford’s game has expanded to a deadly 18 foot jumper, coupled with quick moves to the basket when he’s in attack mode. But that isn’t all Horford has to bring to the game. He also needs to bring that same lunch pail attitude and will to outwork his opponent that he had in his first two or three years in the League. He can’t be afraid to match up against Howard when necessary, and absolutely MUST work the glass hard in every game. If Horford hangs out on the perimeter, forgets to rebound for an entire half, or becomes indecisive and slow to attack on offense, the Hawks are going to have a hard time of it. In short, Horford needs to become a double-double guy once again. Rather than worry about which position he has to play, Big Al needs to keep it simple – just be a basketball player.

Josh Smith may not be an all-star in name yet, but no player on the Hawks squad has the potential to be as dynamic as he can. Smith’s instinctive help defense is impossible for most teams to gameplan against, and if he plays within himself on offense (and within the flow), few teams have the personnel to contain him, as he is just as capable of tossing a nice assist as he is throwing down a vicious dunk. The key for Smith has never changed – he must play under control, and he must spend more time under or near the basket. When the team struggles, Smith often tries to take over and fix things. The problem is that he doesn’t always use the right tools for the job.

Who has the edge here, Atlanta or Orlando? It should be Atlanta.

Supporting Casts

Nelson is a one-time all-star at point guard, but hasn’t played like an all-star this season. All the same, Nelson is capable of 17 point/8 assist performances on a given night. Gilbert Arenas would figure to be a star, but he’s nowhere near what he used to be and can’t even be counted on as a double figure scorer on a night-to-night basis. Does this make him less dangerous than before? Well, yes and no. Gilbo can put 25 + on you if he’s given enough minutes and gets hot. But that has only happened once since…well…2010. After showing he wasn’t worth the money in Toronto, Hedo Turkoglu returns to the squad that he did his best work for, only to show that he too, is past his best days. All the same, these three guys, along with J.J. Reddick and Jason Richardson, can shoot the lights out in a gym if they get enough good looks. It’s one thing if these guys simply get hot. The best you can do is limit their open looks and ride it out while contesting every shot. But if you let them get hot by continually allowing back door cuts and open looks along the perimeter, well then you’ve signed your own playoff death warrant. Where the Magic are vulnerable is in the frontcourt. With no 7-foot Gortat to back Dwight up, Orlando has to rely on the hustling and athletic Brandon Bass, as well as the more finesse-than-rugged Ryan Anderson. Still, both guys will beat you to the ball out of effort alone, if you let them.

The Hawks have a core of support players that sometimes work very well together, and sometimes fall apart separately. Backup center Zaza Pachulia is a good source of phsyical play and rebounding (especially on the offensive end), and can also provide some timely buckets here and there. Jamal Crawford has struggled this season while being asked to do something he’s never really been that good at – play point guard. However, few can be as frustratingly hard to contain as Crawford when he’s cut loose as the gunslinger he’s meant to be, much less when he’s hot. Crawford’s scoring can be pivotal to the Hawks’ success, especially if some of the starters are struggling (which they’ve done often this season). Backup point guard Jeff Teague struggles with scoring in traffic or when tightly defended, but has the speed to gain separation and keep the opposing team on their heels. In addition to this, Teague can pester and harass opposing point guards all over the floor, and can get some astounding blocks when following guys to the basket. The Hawks also have a leg up on defense in the backcourt with the midseason addition of Kirk Hinrich, who is also a capable defender who will never give up, even when he’s struggling to contain someone. The Magic may find it a different game altogether when Nelson and Duhon have to face Hinrich and Teague on defense, as opposed to the departed Mike Bibby and a steady diet of Jamal. Then again, coach Larry Drew is quite capable of nullifying that all by himself, so we’ll see.

Finally, there is Jason Collins, whose sole part in all of this is to play Dwight Howard for 20 or more minutes per game, allowing Al Horford to play the power forward position and not have to bang as much. Along with Collins is Marvin Williams, who will likely be coming off the bench for the Hawks. While this may seem like a demotion, Williams has proven to be effective off the bench, producing more than his season averages on several occasions. Williams’ ability to defend the perimeter, run on the break, and provide needed support on the glass could make a big difference for the Hawks.

Who has the advantage? Orlando. Why? Because they have shown up in support of their star player more often than the Hawks have shown up in support of the struggling core.

End of the Bench X-Men

Every playoff matchu has an X-factor. But what about bench guys who don’t play much that can make a difference? For the Hawks, I would submit Jason Collins, but everybody knows his role is to frustrate and bang on Dwight Howard, so that’s a foregone conclusion. What about Etan Thomas or Damien Wilkins? Thomas may be a good beefy and energetic option for the Hawks against either Howard or Bass if the starting front line is struggling on the glass. Wilkins is a very good perimeter defender who can help keep the clamps on guys like Jason Richardson and J.J. Reddick. Will these guys have a significant impact, or will they keep the bench warm for everybody else?


Well, that’s my take on this series. What’s yours?



Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog

111 comments Add your comment


April 15th, 2011
3:10 am

Excellent work Ray, and I agree with you that Orlando is indeed vunerable this year. Both teams are dysfunctional with the biggest difference being (with all due respect to Howard) coaching. Van Gundy is head and shoulders above LD’s capabilities in every phase of the game. Maybe the Magic themselves will get the Hawks fired up enough that Drew won’t have to worry about it. But the most important aspect will be the Magic players will listen to what Van Gundy has to say and for the most part take it to heart. The Hawks players have long since tuned LD out.


April 15th, 2011
3:20 am

You boys still sucking and swallowing Hinrich’s garbage arse?


April 15th, 2011
3:21 am

Magic in 5 or 6.

Najeh posted this on the other blog:

It’s pretty nauseating and self explanatory.

Collins will not be allowed to play Howard and will get whistled for every contact whilst Howard will plow away with his shoulder at will with refs doing nothing.

If this does not happen – which in my opinion is highly unlikely since Howard is a very important NBA product whilst the Hawks are worthless worldwide – we have a chance.

LD also made a huge mistake by not shutting down JJ, Al and Josh for the last 5 games.

I am not partial about not playing until the very last game trying to get the best possible record just to avoid injuries, but these guys are significantly banged up and NEEDED the rest.

It would also have saved us from the spectacle of them exposing the Hawks lack of character and their complete dismissal of LD as a coach. If they did not want to make an effort, they should have told LD that they did not want to play.

This way they simply let LD babble about tunning up for the playoffs and did the opposite.

The Hawks are like the Bounty:

Fletcher Christian (LD) led the troops into a mutiny situation against an excessively disciplinarian and strategically blind Captain (Woody – Capt. Bligh) – LD’s soft discipline mentality is clearly at the source of last year’s playoff collapse and I am now convinced that LD laid the bed for Woody’s dismissal by undermining him.

Then, at the elm of the Bounty, just like for Christian, things started well for LD and the Bounty, with morale up.

But when Christian’s plan lead them to nowhere: unable to return to England, stranded in the middle of the Pacific, the soft discipline brewed a new mutiny and Fletcher Christian (LD) lost control over the ship and his men.

This, just like the Bounty, does not mean that Bligh/Woody was the right man, simply that discipline is necessary and a leader emerging out of a mutiny will always be a bad leader.

Astro, again I must apologize, since you were right from day 1 about LD’s selection.


April 15th, 2011
3:27 am

msn.foxsports’ Charley Rosen:


Why the Magic should win: Dwight Howard has an unbeatable size and strength advantage over any and all of Atlanta’s bigs. Jameer Nelson has his flaws, but leadership isn’t among them. Hedo Turkoglu has rediscovered his comfort zone. Ryan Anderson’s all-around hustle and 3-point bombs are a significant plus off the bench. Jason Richardson has found the fountain of youth in Orlando. Brandon Bass has taken full advantage of his increased daylight by climbing the glass and popping his mid-range jumpers. J.J. Redick has evolved into a crafty, bull’s-eye shooting sub. And whatever Gilbert Arenas brings to the mix in any given game always makes a difference.

In sum, the Magic’s board power and usually alert defense are abetted by Stan Van Gundy having eight double-figure scorers at his disposal.

How the Hawks could win: On the basis of sheer talent, Atlanta can beat any team in the NBA at any time. Too bad their roster is stocked with too many wildly immature players. In any event, the Hawks can turn the Magic into rabbits if Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford can be dosed with grown-up pills; if Joe Johnson can succeed on the majority of his one-on-one forays; if Al Horford can out-quick Howard and also knock down his jumpers; if Marvin Williams isn’t paralyzed by stage fright; and if his scatterbrained teammates can yield to the leadership of the slow but tough-enough Kirk Hinrich.

Prediction: Orlando can be had but not by the iffy Hawks. The Magic make Atlanta vanish in six games.”


April 15th, 2011
3:28 am

It seems that Rosen didn’t even bother to check Collins D on Howard during the season.

This is how irrelevant we are.


April 15th, 2011
4:30 am

(Big Ray- This was a very well written article. It explained everything without depending on all that stats garbage everybody runs to especially this time of the year. Sometimes basketball just has to be basketball and someone has to let the players ball.)

Considering that this is the hawks fan nest its pretty imminent over the past few weeks that no one has hope in the hawks. Rather no one believes that the hawks can win. I believe the hawks can cause problems and I also believe that they will. If not then it is what it is. I will support my team regardless.

Hawks in 7. I wish them the best of luck.

Big Ray

April 15th, 2011
5:06 am

E43 ,

Winning nearly ten less games than last season, losing the last six during the regular season, and watching this team regress has put a bad taste in many mouths. And that’s just how people feel about the TEAM, which most of us actually support.

Coaching and front office/ownership? People are far more disgusted from that standpoint on average, if I had to guess. Then again, everybody has their favorite target.

Personally, I stand behind these guys as well, and will support them. It’s MY team. Many other fans will feel that way as well, and will feel more like that if these guys really show up and play hard on the court. Will this affect attendance? Afraid not.

Ed ,

Thanks! I think Sund had it more right than we originally thought – it’s really all on these players. If they wanted LD as their coach (and they did), they could have done better by him than they did. They did him worse than they did Woody, is all I can say. Now it’s up to them. This happy little locker room and “tight knit off the court” scenario is out the window if they bomb out in the playoffs the way people ar thinking they will.

Here’s to them having a well-placed chip on their shoulders and proving everybody (even us fans) wrong.


April 15th, 2011
7:17 am

well said big ray. i have said enough about this team. time to see what they can do. the najeh vision of ld babbling while the team does what it wants is very funny and apropos.


April 15th, 2011
9:41 am

I only worry about LD..

The Magic are not good enough to dominate the Hawks this year. They are smaller and a worse defensive team. I worry that LD will depend on Jamal or Kirk when they are not effective. I worry that LD will try to win with offense and let the Magic offense “get on a Roll”. I worry that he will let Joe shot the Hawks out of the game….But I am not worried about the players. I think they are more than ready for this task and will win in 6 games, because we will loose the 7th in Orlando.

Hawks in 6


April 15th, 2011
10:07 am

Nice writeup.

Not only has SVG’s teams gotten deeper in the playoffs than LD, but this is also LD’s first time in the playoffs as a HC. How will be adjust? Can he convince the players to buy in? I look forward to his interviews after the game with the national media.

I think LD and the players have a great opportunity in front of them to shock the world by winning the series. And I think they have the talent to do it.

I think it all starts with Collins and whether or not he can slow down Dwight. The Hawks are mentally weak, so if Twin is doing a good job on Dwight, I think that gives other players much needed confidence.

If Dwight is having his way (or getting every call and making his FTs), I think players will start to sulk and they will get very jumper happy with Dwight in the middle.

As a result, I think Orlando’s game plan will be simple. 1) Try to get Dwight going early (get Collins in foul trouble, or render him ineffective by pushing the tempo), and 2) Dare the Hawks to take jumpers.


April 15th, 2011
10:59 am

Great write-up, Ray.

I think the series comes down to three things:

1) JJ’s thumb. We haven’t had a healthy JJ in the playoffs since the Celtics series in ‘08. If JJ’s thumb is at 90% or more, maybe we see the guy who went off the chain in January this year. If we don’t, we simply don’t have enough other scoring threats to win otherwise.

2) Offensive movement for the Hawks. It’s been absent since December. Oh sure, there’s a few seconds of off-ball activity after the ball passes the halfcourt line, but as soon as the first pass or two is thrown, the ball and off-ball movement stops, and we end up either going one-on-one or chucking a jumper. It’s almost as if the initial off-ball movement is just a smokescreen to make the other team THINK they we are going to run a motion offense…but then we say “psych!” with about 12 seconds left on the clock and shoot a jumper or start an ISO anyway.

Against Orlando, we have no chance of scoring if we keep running the standstill offense we did last year and and for the past few months this year. You can’t just run ISOs and post-ups all day with Dwight Howard in the lane. You just can’t.

3) LD. This one pretty much speaks for itself. If something isn’t working, LD will have to show that he has the foresight and guts to make changes, whether that means calling different plays or making a substitution. So far this year, he has proven that he knows how to call a good play out of a timeout, but that’s about it. He’ll need to raise his game in the playoffs multifold if we want to have a shot.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 15th, 2011
11:52 am

We can and have gone on and on about LD’s various shortcomings. It’s pretty clear at this point that while his schemes might theoretically be good, he absolutely sucks at motivating his players to follow them. In my opinion this probably dooms any chance of him becoming a good coach on this particular team with this particular group of players, since they have already seen that they can tune him out with no consequences.

That said, even in recent weeks despite their record we have seen this team play winning basketball in stretches, even if they haven’t put it together for 48 minutes (the Houston game comes to mind as an example). These players all have playoff experience. They know the system, and they should know at this point what works and what doesn’t. None of them need LD to tell them how to play winning basketball. At this point, in a win or go home situation, it comes down to how much the players want it and how willing they are to focus in and play winning basketball for 48 minutes. Yes, LD is capable of screwing things up by not substituting properly, but if players play the way they know works best (i.e. Joe making quick decisions, Smoove and Al rolling to the hoop off screens, Smoove and Marvin cutting to the hoop off the ball more often, Al and Zaza crashing the boards, Al being aggressive, Jamal and Kirk taking good shots, the guards as a unit feeding the ball inside, the team as a whole communicating on defense and closing out on shooters) it shouldn’t matter.


April 15th, 2011
2:44 pm

if they play with all their effort and heart hawks win in 6 games..guaranteed…


April 15th, 2011
3:57 pm

Speaking of the Orlando series last year…

“That was such a brutal series,” Drew said. “Seeing the body language in our team — even being down 2-0 and coming home, you should never show signs of defeat like that. After Game 1, I saw players in a state I’ve never seen before. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.”.

Didn’t we see similar signs of defeat during the regular season? 4 losses by 30+ points, and lots of double digit losses.

That being said, maybe Rick and LD and the Hawks have the media and fans exactly where they want them. Doubting.

If the Hawks win this series, the post game blog/article after the clinching victory will probably be called “In Yo Face!”


April 15th, 2011
7:23 pm

i believe in my hawks. so hawks in 6


April 15th, 2011
9:26 pm

Nice analysis Ray. I believe in the Hawks as well (although they haven’t given any of us reason to). PREDICTIONS:
Dwight Howard gets ejected once for swinging on Jason Collins.
Turkoglu has 2 or 3 incredible games.
Gilbert Arenas doesn’t show up.
Jamal Crawford scores 20 or more in at least 3 games.
Joe goes ‘09 Playoffs (1st round) on that ass.
Josh alternates between greatness and mediocrity each game.


Big Ray

April 15th, 2011
9:56 pm

Niremetal ,

You called it. I think those three keys are top notch, especially Joe’s health. We can call him a bum ’til the cows come home but if he can’t do his thing, the Hawks will really have it tough. I still don’t see why we couldn’t have rested him and that dang thumb for the last 6+ games. I really don’t.

Add in Najeh’s assertion about Al’s aggressiveness, feeding the ball inside constantly, and our inside guys constantly rolling to the hoop, and we have a recipe for success.

Big Ray

April 15th, 2011
9:57 pm

I am Soulstar ,

You still have one of the coolest handles of anybody on any blog I’ve ever seen, LOL. I like your predictions, too….


April 15th, 2011
11:35 pm


I honestly include rolling to the hoop and feeding the ball inside as part and parcel of offensive movement. If the ball stops with a jumper, ISO, or even a post-up, I think we’re screwed. We’re not going to beat the Magic by shooting jumpers or by going one-on-one (regardless of whether it’s an ISO or a post-up). With Dwight patrolling the lane, slow-unfolding plays just won’t work. We need to get guys moving toward the basket if we want any chance of scoring more than 85ppg in the series.


April 16th, 2011
11:49 am

from AJC “Coach Larry Drew’s rotation has fluctuated for much of the season, but he said three reserves would play regular minutes: guard Jamal Crawford, forward Marvin Williams and center Zaza Pachulia. He said Wilkins and guard Jeff Teague also could play roles.”

The above is spelled: Jamal at the PG reserve slot, ORL in 5.


April 16th, 2011
11:53 am

Big Ray, I think you are spot on concerning the last few games. LD and the team were obviously on different pages. The guys wanted to rest, and LD wanted them to get sharp. Far better would have been for him to do what Rivers did with the Celtics last year, giving Big Baby and Westbrook quality minutes the last few games and letting KG rest. Rivers told the guys: show me you want rotation minutes in the playoffs, and they did. Teague playing less than 20 minutes during these “meaningless” games was a mistake. IMHO

Possibly, LD thinks this is still a young team needing to learn his system. Why would they learn now if they haven’t in 75 previous games? SMH

Had they developed Teague more earlier, they wouldn’t have needed to make that Bibby trade. Not that it was an awful trade…just that they had to give up too much to do it.

I have hope the players can come together and show some pride against Orlando. They can….but I don’t see a victory as a victory for LD. He has shown me little this year. Talks a good game, but I judge him on results and they’ve regressed, not moved forward under LD.

Change over the summer to shakeup the roots and limbs of this dying team.


April 16th, 2011
12:29 pm

BIG RAY- I agee with your post. My biggest fear is that hawks fans are magnifying what they feel to be right because of the losses. Hubbie Brown’s statements about this team were dead accurate. How are you supposed to be a fast break team and your close to the bottom of the league in rebounding, blocks and steals.

This goes back to asset management. I don’t think LD is our problem.We can get Jerrry Sloan in here and I doubt he would change much. My problem has been and always will stem from lining up properly. I think LD takes to much criticism for this teams shortcomings when truth of the matter is that the organization settles for nothing too many times. This team is still undersized and that’s not Woody or LD’s fault. I know Atlanta is not a free agent haven. But settling for nothing is just unacceptable given the fact that they have had almost a decade to at-least solidify either the bench4 or the starting5. I don’t think there’s a team going to the playoffs that has had so many lineups and that’s including teams with real injury issues.


April 16th, 2011
12:42 pm

Vava- Jamal doesnt play PG by design. Hes forced to by lineups.


April 16th, 2011
4:22 pm

I have no idea how this team is going to play, but I think JJ is the key to this series. If he plays like an All-Star then its the HAWKS in 6, if he doesn’t then Orlando in 5. Orlando has no one with the size to match-up with Joe and with Pietrus gone, they’ve lost their quickest defender. The only person I’m really watching in this series JJ.

Josh is the X-Factor because if he can make jumpshots and finish drives then he’s an All-Star, but if he’s missing jumpshots and playing lazy defense then its the HAWKS at their worst.



April 16th, 2011
4:37 pm

Vava- Jamal doesnt play PG by design. Hes forced to by lineups.

I was gonna say that since Teague just gives the ball to Jamal when he goes into the game anyway, it’s kind of a moot issue. Jamal is the de facto backup PG even when Teague is playing.

Ken Strickland

April 16th, 2011
6:12 pm

BIG RAY-you gave your opinion of me as being someone that won’t give in when involved in an argument or discussion, and maybe that’s true. And you can bet I’ll jump down your throat, as soon as you say something I can disagree with, LOL. Excellent analysis my friend.

While I’m totally disappointed with the Hawks at this point, I’m solidly behind them and believe they’ll win this series IF they can overcome LDrew and their own individual issues. The Magic present only one major obstacle for us to overcome, and that’s C DHoward. On the other hand, we present them with multipe obstacles to overcome, like AHorford, JJ, JSmith and JCrawford. You can also add JTeague to that list, if Drew has enough sense to unleash him.

Now matter who wins this series, or how we ended our season, there won’t be a repeat of last yrs playoff disaster against them. If our bigs can hold their own against DHoward one on one, and make him work extra hard, we’ll have the advantage everywhere else and can win this series.


April 16th, 2011
7:04 pm

From MC’s writeup;

•Judging by L.D.’s comments over the last couple days, Jamal, Zaza and Marvin are the only bench guys who definitely are part of the rotation. The other bigs are available for Dwight if necessary.

As for Teague, Drew said: “We will see how it goes. I hope I can get him in there because he did a good job in the last few games.”

Teague, comparing this year to last year’s playoffs: “There’s a possibility I actually might get in the game this year.”.

LD says he hopes he can get Teague in there? I just hope Hinrich plays better defense than he did the last few games.

And it sounds like Teague was taking a shot at Woody lol.


April 16th, 2011
7:18 pm

JJ looks good early. And he is more decisive with the ball (imo).


April 16th, 2011
9:45 pm

Three words from here on out: “Make It Happen!”


April 16th, 2011
10:02 pm

For one night at least: Hats off to Larry.

His rotations were great tonight. He seemed to know exactly when to call timeout to stop a Magic run, didn’t give into the temptation to double Dwight despite the fact that he was racking up a Wilt-like stat line in the first half, and got the guys to move the ball around better than they did against Orlando. When the Magic cut the lead to single digits in the 4th, he knew when to pull Jamal and put in Hinrich to stop the defensive bleeding, which is something he just never had the guts to do during the season.


April 16th, 2011
10:36 pm

so cool. look forward to welcoming them home on friday with a very meaningful game three. amazed i can say that after game one. good game guys.

really good to see the scorers actually score with good efficiency numbers. that is what drove us in january and will have to drive the team in the playoffs. jj and jamal are the keys with jamal having to get his numbers in batches and then letting the defense take over.

Big Ray

April 16th, 2011
10:46 pm

Well, how’s that for proving everybody wrong for one game? Yes, I did have to add that caveat. The Hawks have a history of knowing how to play any ONE game very well. Having said that, positive feeling from this and some observations/opinions:

1) I know Jamal is still a sieve on the defensive end. When he’s shooting/scoring like that, a coach like Drew is apt to go with it and endure the painful side of things. But, as niremetal pointed out, he knew enough to put Hinrich back in to stop the run in time.

2) In regard to the above observation, I’ll acknowledge the argument that Drew could have gone with Teague to keep the defensive pressure up on Nelson. Would it have worked? We have no proof either way. And clearly, Drew is more comfortable with dealing with Jamals’ defensive issues than he is with dealing with Teague’s offensive issues. We’ll see if Teague gets to sniff the court in this series. If Jamal continues to play well, don’t look for it…

3) Was it not great to see Joe with his game face on? 25/5/5. In the playoffs. On the other team’s home court. Did it by shooting over 50% from the field, and by getting to the line (7-8).

4)Good to see Horford not disappear. He scored decently and contributed on the glass and with assists.

5) Josh with a better second half than his first half. The first half performance wasn’t very good.

6)Hated to see us get beaten like that on the glass, but we know there was really only one main reason why: Dwight. All the same, there was another telling stat that was in our favor – assist to turnover ratio. The Magic had 15 assists, 19 turnovers. We had 19 assists, and 9 turnovers.

7) Still miss Mike Bibby and rue the advent of Kirk Hinrich? I don’t.

Now…I don’t think we’ll be shooting 50-something percent against the Magic throughout this series. And, Van Gundy and his crew will be working on ways to adjust. So, the Hawks will have to hold steady with what works, and get contributions from other guys when some are struggling. But…it won’t hurt if Joe and Jamal can continue to give us upwards of 40 points per night combined, and if Al and Josh continue to pour in points in the mid-to-high teens each contest. That, and the rebounding could be a little better. Also, Josh starting off the game a little smarter, and more from Marvin. It’s all needed, and you never know exactly when.

Good win, Hawks! Nothing like a road victory to start the series off.

Ken Strickland

April 16th, 2011
11:21 pm

Man, LDrew coached his butt off tonight, and my hat goes off to him for showing up big time. It’s the first time Hawks fans have seen playoff caliber coaching like that in over a decade. I stated today, in an earlier post, that we present the Magic with several key players(JJ, Jamal, Horford, and Josh)that have to be dealt with, while DHoward and JNelson basically represents what they have to offer.

Howard got away with a lot of physical play, but quantity won out over quality once again. We wore him down in the 1st half, and he started missing shots and FT’s down the stretch. We also started scoring inside more in the 2nd half, because he was slow to rotate and challenge shots.

This is just one victory, but the longest journey starts with the 1st step, and our 1st step was a big one. We’ve taken home court advantage away from them, and now we have to take the series. EXCELLENT WIN TONIGHT HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


April 17th, 2011
12:14 am


JJ was very aggressive, which made all the difference! He took one three according to the stats which I missed seeing, otherwise he was taking his man to the basket. No matter what the Magic change defensively, we’ll be tough to beat if he keeps playing like that. LD, did a nice job in the 2nd by keeping Powell on the floor and saving Collins and Zaza for the 2nd half. But I thought LD kept Hinich on the bench to long in the 4th. The consistent post-ups from Horford and Josh were really good to see. We can create some tough match-ups for the Magic, so we have to continue to exploit them.

Hopefully they can play well again Tuesday, win or lose!


Najeh Davenpoop

April 17th, 2011
1:58 am

“Hated to see us get beaten like that on the glass”

It’s the offensive rebounds the Hawks have to control. If five of those 13 Magic offensive boards went to the Hawks the rebounding differential would essentially be even. And it’s not like Dwight was the only Magic player crashing the offensive glass — Jameer Nelson, the smallest guy on the floor, came away with four of them.

One of the playoff preview links MC posted said that the Hawks are the worst team in the league at stopping teams after they get the offensive rebound. That certainly seems like a correct stat to me. Hawks gotta put a body on people and corral those defensive boards.

Of course, after a game like this, it’s nitpicking. Overall, this was probably the most complete offensive and defensive game the Hawks have played against a quality opponent this year by my recollection.


April 17th, 2011
4:45 am

Couldn’t watch the game. Intend to do it later.

A query: all those shots going in during the second quarter for us were from outside?

If so, I don’t think the formula will be repeated successfully.

Nonetheless, this is a 5 men game. Letting Howard get 50 whilst keeping the rest under control will always give us a chance to win.


April 17th, 2011
10:32 am

Niremental-”Jamal is the de facto backup PG even when Teague is playing.”

That’s true. Teague has shown (in my eyes) that he is improving and im sure he will slowly turn touches into production sooner rather than later.

Ken Strickland

April 17th, 2011
3:23 pm

Teague has definitely shown both OFF and DEF improvement despite LDrew’s insistence on giving him inconsistent mins, opportunities, and a lot of lip service. Can you imagine how much the NBA and its fans would have missed if we’d drafted CP3, DWilliams or BRoy? They would have received the same WOODY TREATMENT ALaw and JTeague received, just because of their youth and inexperience, not their lack of talent.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2011
3:25 pm

Man, I wish I could get excited. Had some friends email me expecting me to be bouncing off the wall last night, I wasn’t.

I can’t help but feel like the Magic were just that bad yesterday and the Hawks were just that hot. A slew of “bad shots” hit the bottom of the net for the Hawks. can’t expect that to continue. Our big men were pretty useless against Dwight, our defense on the PG was still not tremendous, and yet we won. Somewhere, Otis Smith was hoping that Rashard, Vince and Petruis would walk through the arena doors. If Jason Richardson, Hedo and others continue to be absent, then I guess we will in fact win. But I can’t help but feel like the Hawks played as well as they could ever play in this series while the Magic (as an overall unit) did the polar opposite. IMO, the series starts Friday in Atlanta. I’ll feel much better about things if we’re winning the series after Game 3.


April 17th, 2011
4:32 pm

From Jeff Schultz blog;

Al Horford, the most universally respected player in the Hawks’ locker room, said: “Nobody has ever quit on Larry. It was more about frustration. I felt like some guys got discouraged because their own games weren’t going the way they wanted it to. That happens during a season.”

Horford said that if players had quit on Drew this season, “It would be the same as quitting on your own teammates. That didn’t happen this year.”

Did it happen last year under Woodson? “In all honesty, I think it did,” Al said .

He pointed to the team’s play in the postseason, particularly in the four-game sweep by Orlando, which also dominated the Hawks during the regular season.

“Part of it could have been Woodson and that some guys had been with him for a long time, but part of it also was we were playing Orlando.”.

Some of us fans have always said Woody was not the only problem, because players quit on him. But its always easier to get rid of the coach, than it is to replace the players.

However, Even if the Hawks win this series, I think our GM should shake up the roster.


April 17th, 2011
5:34 pm

lol @ astro playing the grinch who stole christmas.

looking back at the trade got to wonder why they pulled the trigger and how they really improved themselves as gortat was probably more important than they thought and arenas more of a drag. at least gortat would allow some serious mind decompression time for howard as he has truly become overwhelmed at the spectre of being a hunted man without relief in sight. i didnt see it but head butting? by an all star calling himself superman? folly, if that keeps up, we have truly won.


April 17th, 2011
7:06 pm

got some serious upsets going on dont we?


April 17th, 2011
7:37 pm


Portland had a chance to beat dallas last night too.

Also, everytime I watch CP3 do what he does (20 pts, 10+ assists career average in the playoffs), I can’t help but shake my head at BK for taking Marvin.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2011
8:23 pm

OB, don’t worry, CP3 will likely miss 40 games next season.


April 17th, 2011
8:42 pm

From MC’s new blog;

L.D. said players lobbied him to abandon the Dwight Defense as he kept thrashing all of Atlanta’s big men.

L.D. said. “I saw a little bit of–I won’t say panic—but our guys thought it was time to make an adjustment, which I clearly did not think it was time because it was a one- or two-point ball game at the time. I’ve got my main three big guys on the bench with two fouls.

As long as we kept it close I was going to continue to just play him head’s up as much as we could. I called timeout to reiterate, ‘That is not the game plan, we not not going to start opening up that game plan.’ I saw a little temptation might have been there but I was not going to do it at that time.”.

Props to LD for sticking with his game plan.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2011
9:32 pm

Yeah, I think Toney Douglas would have been just fine in a Hawks uniform.


April 17th, 2011
9:41 pm

aj that is soo reassuring how many games will marvin have on the dnp list? he has had some injuries himself without the all league status that cp3 holds. how can you even say that, seizure or just a brain cramp? marvin is not mr invincible.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2011
9:55 pm

doc, understand, i guess I just have grown exhausted about a 72 month discussion. Mine as well discuss Royal Ivey over Chris Duhan.


April 17th, 2011
11:26 pm

well aj, did you hear we have now overpaid for jj twice and we really didnt need to give up as much as we did? ;-)


April 17th, 2011
11:45 pm

Lets not get too cocky or content…

“Alex Kennedy: Magic fan in tunnel: “It’s just one win, it doesn’t mean anything.” Jeff Teague: “All we needed was one, baby!” Twitter”