Atlanta Hawks – The team you thought you knew

These can’t be the same guys that got swept in the most embarrassing fashion in the 2009-2010 playoffs, can they?

The Atlanta Hawks made dubious history in last season’s playoffs, losing to the Orlando Magic by a record number of averaged points. The only way they could do worse is to make history again, by giving up a 3 games-t0-1 lead to the Magic in this year’s first round series. NBA history is on the Hawks’ side, and unless Dwight Howard’s supporting cast decides to don a collective set of capes, the Hawks will drive on to round 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.

Half Empty, Half Full

Most folks didn’t give the Hawks much of a chance against the Magic in this series, but now some quickly changed their tune, even before last night’s win. But what do the fans think of all of this? Did the Hawks fool us all season long into believing that they are less than they truly are? Have they reached their potential? Or is Orlando truly that bad, despite the dominating performance of Dwight Howard? Just how accurate our incredulity is, is a testament to how confusing this team can be. After losing the final six games of the season, there was little hope that the Hawks would come into this series with their heads held high, and a major chip on their shoulders. The Hawks haven’t just gotten the matchup with Orlando down pat, they’ve even figured out how to press the advantages they have.

On the other hand, this past season (and offseason) saw Orlando make some big roster moves to try and get over the hump and back into the Eastern Conference Finals. Perhaps it’s unseemly to give the opponent more discredit than to give the home team credit, but rest assured of one thing – if the Hawks cruise into the second round of the playoffs and suffer a beating, every headline about THIS series will read about the fall of the Magic and NOT the rise of the Hawks.

Glass half empty…or half full?

Difference Makers

On the defensive side, the differences between this year’s team and last year’s is at the center and point guard positions. With Jason Collins spending 6 fouls and roughly 18 minutes getting under Howard’s skin, the Hawks finally put themselves in position to defend the monstrous center one-on-one, and no longer subjecting them to futile run-outs at wide open shooters. At the top of the key, guard Kirk Hinrich holds his own, successful or not (Jameer Nelson has been scoring pretty well of late), once again, eliminating the frantic and ineffective help defense of the past.

But for my money, the biggest difference makers in this series are Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Both guys stunk up the joint last postseason, scoring below their season averages and not shooting well enough to be a threat to anybody serious. This year has been a different situation altogether. Not only is the high scoring backcourt duo playing well, they’ve both stepped up their games in regard to field goal percentage and attack effectiveness. Facts are facts, and the team’s two best scorers allow the Hawks to have a balanced attack, which has been just enough to beat the Magic’s two man game.

One more win, and the Hawks prove that they’ve passed the Orlando Magic litmus test. But is it enough? Are the Hawks truly better than we thought they were, or are they just better than the Magic now?

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog

239 comments Add your comment

honest_abe

April 26th, 2011
2:29 pm

fact of the day: no where else in the world is term “hater” used more than in hawks blogs. lord have mercy on my soul. my eyes won’t complain if i never have to see that word again. when people run out of things to say it’s HATER TIME!

Rod from College Park

April 26th, 2011
2:59 pm

honest_abe,

You stating that Josh was not paying attention at the end of a game, and everyone yelled at Josh to wake up is hating. You have no way of proving that, and you have no idea what Josh’s responsibilities are. Me saying Marvin is not a good player is expressing an opinion that can be proved by facts. If you get tired of hearing the word hater, then stop hating.

honest_abe

April 26th, 2011
3:24 pm

stop hating on me rod. i can’t take this hate anymore. all these hate filled responses to my haterade is causing me to get hatesick. as for my take on josh there’s this cool new invention called tivo (not sure if its very new anymore) go see for yourself big boy. and then let the hate begin!

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
3:36 pm

Canniblogging rears it’s ugly head.

When you watch the other playoff teams and then the Hawks, it is abundantly clear that we’re missing something as a collective unit. Call it B-ball IQ, discipline, attentiveness, maturity, preparation, focus, aptitude, gray matter… call it what you will but there is something that breaks down between the muscles and the brain in too many players wearing the Hawks uniform. And for that reason, irrespective of what happens in this first round series, if the ASG is serious about doing more than making an annual fruitless trip to the 2nd round, they need to break-up the core of this team.

I’m not sold on Jason Collins as the series MVP, but I do recognize that he is an anomaly on this team… someone who effectively merges his knowledge AND his physical abilities to exceed individual expectations. God Bless him.

Rod from College Park

April 26th, 2011
3:38 pm

honest_abe,

Was that your attempt at humor? So now you are a professional lip reader. You are far from honest abe.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
3:48 pm

If the Hawks are down one or two possession, they will call a play down the stretch. When they are leading down the stretch is when one guy does all the dribbling, and then throws it up before the shot clock buzzer goes off, while the other players stand around and watch.

AJ,

Co-sign. Collins knows his limitations, and he plays within himself. Too many of our players try to do things that are not “strengths”, or try to play hero.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
3:55 pm

I love SVG’s sound bites. From Jeff Schultz’s blog;

When asked about fatigue possibly setting in for Howard, given all of the minutes he has played, Van Gundy said: “I don’t want to give away a big secret here before the game. But he will not get a lot of rest tonight.”.

On whether there will be any carryover from the game three scrap between Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson, who return from their suspensions: “Yes. I think they’ll square off at center court.” .

On his defensive plan for trying to slow down the Hawks’ Jamal Crawford: “We’re going to triple team him. We’ll have two guys guard the other four.” .

newkid

April 26th, 2011
4:08 pm

” funny sometimes to see some of the silly little postural things that josh does like not give the ball up to the guy he should like hinrich but passes it off to someone else coming up court.” doc

Noticed the same doc. If that’s Josh’s way of resisting Kirk’s leadership at the point guard position, it’s beyond childishness.

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
4:19 pm

The “Defenders of Josh” have said for 6+ years that when he does something like not pass the ball to a superiorball-handler to push the tempo, that he is simply “trying to make something happen”. Anyone familiar with the term “dumb energetic”?

doc

April 26th, 2011
4:54 pm

rod say hello to the ninja. yes honest is known to be a bit on the sarcastic side. ;-)

he also has certain players that bring the best out in him as well….. have you heard the one about an nba duck?

yeah newk, on more than one occasion. i dont think it is by chance. astro, this is not even faster than walking speed with no energy at all except spite maybe.

newkid

April 26th, 2011
5:21 pm

I’m not a fan of either Josh or Al attempting to initiate a fastbreak by dribbling the ball upcourt. Oft-times Josh appears to fancy himself the re-incarnation of Magic Johnson, which too often results in an idiotic turnover; and Al just hauls arse to the front court foul line extended before turning and giving the ball to a guard (which he should have in the 1st place), getting absolutely nothing accomplished. Dammit, rebound the ball, give it to the guard (even if it’s Hinrich), and get your tails out on the wings where you can help your team. Allow yourselves to be coached, and discontinue these teenage fantasies of playing five positions at once.

Rod from College Park

April 26th, 2011
5:23 pm

doc,

I remember him. If you make a statement be willing to back it up. If you say Jamal is a “loser” because he has never been to the playoffs, fall on the sword when you have been proven wrong (vava74). He saw on his TIVO that Josh was not paying attention st the end of the game (lying_abe). LOL

doc

April 26th, 2011
6:30 pm

rod love you both, mean it.

rod also if josh doesnt frustrate you when he takes plays off at the most conspicuous times, you are the only one in the big a. i love j smash not j smoove if you catch my drift … the good josh. ;-)

newk, who was the young big stud on the griz last night that got the rebound, fell out of bounds over the end line picked himself up to hustle down court and be on the highlight film by receiving an alley oop from their guard. i want to see that from our big guys. not sure what al thinks he is doing except live out a bad habit developed during the bibby years but josh is trying to ball like the queen is my fear.

doc

April 26th, 2011
6:56 pm

lost one in the hopper big ray, did not use the word hate even used love. ;-)

The Dreamer 3K

April 26th, 2011
7:07 pm

Prediction Time.

Okay guys, it’s 30 minutes before gametime and I can’t find anything else to do to kill time so here goes. I generally try to avoid predictions, especially about the future, but tonight I make an exception. Hawks will win tonight by 10 plus points. The game will be close at half time, but the Hawks will run in the third quarter and the Magic will quit in the fourth.

Predictions anyone?

doc

April 26th, 2011
8:08 pm

dreamer, uh no. magic bring it back to atlanta.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:17 pm

Yep.

I told you so…

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:22 pm

sleepy & Rod,

English may not be my mother language but I made myself clear:

a streaky shooter should remain on the floor if he has shown to be hot and should be glued to the bench when he has shown to be off.

tonight he is already 0-4.

I hope that he proves me wrong, but I don’t think he will turn hot, hence, his minutes should be extremely limited.

heck, after his first two misses, I would have brought back Hinrich and would have given Jamal another chance later in the game.

if you don’t understand this logic, then you continue to overvalue Jamal.

doc

April 26th, 2011
8:23 pm

there’re back!

doc

April 26th, 2011
8:25 pm

jj being beaten by no legs arenas.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
8:34 pm

Hawks need to at least keepo it close, because mentally, if we lose by 30+, then they will start to question themselves going into game 6.

Same thing all year. When jumpers are falling, Hawks look good. When they aren’t….blowouts.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
8:35 pm

In 9 minutes, Jamal is -16.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
8:40 pm

JJ didnt even bother try and stop Richardson. he just let him go by. And then jamal gets stripped, and lets Nelson run around him….

What will the Hawks do different in the second half?

In 13 minutes, Jamal is -19. In 21 minutes, JJ is -20. With both of those guys struggling, we dont have a chance.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:42 pm

Simpler than this, only 1+1=2

And after the beat down tonight, look for the Magic to feel re-energized and come to ATL filled with confidence with the Hawks’ bubble completely burst.

Brace yourselves for a disaster: 3-4 and the Magic will move on.

niremetal

April 26th, 2011
8:43 pm

No positive takeaways of note in the first half. Josh is attacking the rim a bit more (half of his shots were in the paint), but still not as much as he should be and he’s still making bad decisions with the ball most of the time. But the first half of that last sentence is the nicest thing I can say about the Hawks’ first half performance.

They’ll come out lifeless at the beginning of the second half, Drew won’t try to do anything different until it’s too late, and the fourth quarter will be meaningless garbage time a la last year’s series. Round up the usual suspects.

niremetal

April 26th, 2011
8:45 pm

In case you wondering, the Blueprint for Beating the Magic still holds: The way you beat them isn’t to shut down Dwight; it’s to shut down everyone else.

Onto game 6.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:48 pm

OB,

Jamal is -21

JJ is s*cking badly too.

We had a golden opportunity: down by 4 (more or less) and Howard out with 2 fouls with 5.30 to go in the first.

Our offensive execution s*cked and enter Jamal and it even got worse with the defense becoming non-existent.

It’s not only Jamal and I am no laying on him all the guilt. Not at all, it’s simply that it is POINTLESS to keep Jamal on the floor if he is not hitting his shots and his first two misses were CLEAR signs that he was on route to an OFF NIGHT.

Again, I hope he proves me wrong and comes back to score 50 in the second half but if don’t mind, I will be waiting asleep and check back tomorrow.

My prediction is that we will lose by 30-40 points since the Magic will try to make a point and our guys are completely clueless (and heartless).

lukas

April 26th, 2011
8:49 pm

Tota lack of preparation for this game. Aparently, they got game 6 in their heads before this one started. 100% on the coach nd the 3 captains!!

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
8:53 pm

I think LD should play Teague in the second half once the game gets out of hand. That way, he wont be quite as rusty in case we advance.

vava,

Our defense has been horrible too. At least you expect it with Jamal, but the other guys…they all stayed home in ATL.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:55 pm

ORL are executing a lot faster moving both the ball and the personnel more crisply instead of dumping the ball on Howard and just wait around the 3 point line.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
8:57 pm

OB,

Our defense was OK until Howard left and LD introduced first Marvin and then Jamal.

I suspect that it was a combination of “relax, Howard is on the bench” and “Jamal’s lack of D” that did the trick.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2011
8:59 pm

Josh is 10-22 from the FT line this series. Wow.

And JJ is struggling big time. 2-9

niremetal

April 26th, 2011
9:13 pm

You wanna know what the saddest thing is? The Hawks are doing better than I thought they would in the 3rd quarter tonight.

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
9:17 pm

Joe didn’t show up tonight, he seemed content to use his safety net… Game 6 at home, I fear that may have been a huge mistake. Another example of a lack of something working properly above the shoulders. This effort is akin to those last 6 games of the regular season when they weren’t playing for anything of substance.

But alas, this one was fairly easy to predict… that the Magic would have a tremendous shooting game in this series.

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
9:18 pm

The Teague lovers should enjoy the 4th quarter.

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
9:22 pm

I guess Josh didn;t want to hurt his field goal percentage on that last possession of the quarter. OK, now we get to see some Josh Powell action. What time are the Braves playing?

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
9:37 pm

LD decides to deliver some “accountability” in the 87th game of the year by keeping his starters out there during garbage time.

Astro Joe

April 26th, 2011
9:40 pm

JJ should refund the ASG about $5M for his poor effort tonight.

Melvin

April 26th, 2011
9:42 pm

As much as I like Josh, I swear he put up an ugly 22/11 performance tonight….

doc

April 26th, 2011
9:58 pm

i love the way our boys have grown up ….. not.

well get to go to the phil on thursday. they better bring their a game and get the fans in it.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
10:05 pm

Howard finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds and we lost by 25.

That is a sad.

LD was thoroughly out coached, IMO: ORL went away from Howard and rotated the ball faster instead of going inside-out.

LD looked as plan A failed due to ORL changing the way they were playing and when facing an adjustment, he did nothing.

This was Woody part 2 with just a different strategy failing.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
10:05 pm

doc,

If you want to take an advice from a fellow blogger, sell your ticket and stay at home.

niremetal

April 26th, 2011
10:09 pm

My theory on why we lost tonight: Everyone was suffering from hay fever and got doped up on 3 different kinds of antihistamines. Or was that just me?

*crickets*

Zyrtec, Tavist, and Allegra, in case you were wondering.

doc

April 26th, 2011
10:29 pm

vava tempted, good seats.

vava74

April 26th, 2011
11:02 pm

doc,

Get the dough and stay at home. you will thank me later.

If the Hawks win – by any chance – you can still watch them against CHI, if they lose, you will save yourself the trouble and the beat down (because I really think it will be another beat down).

vava74

April 26th, 2011
11:04 pm

Even the crowd will be deflated after tonight and ready to boo as soon as the game starts to slip away a bit.

Heck, during game 3 in which we were winning and playing OK they started booing simply because the lead we got slipped away and ORL tied.

doc

April 26th, 2011
11:16 pm

staples is very quiet now, only 8 assists for cp3 in the first period.

doc

April 26th, 2011
11:18 pm

i was at the 3rd game and i dont remember any booing at all maybe it was game four when they lost the big lead.

better set up a an account with stub hib quickly/

E43

April 27th, 2011
12:43 am

I just thought that the hawks passed up an opportunity to lengthen the rotation earlier in the game and keep the magic scrambling for adjustments. O well, orlando somewhat beat us to it. I still believe the hawks will win. I actually pick them to win by 10 in game 6. If not, it is what it is…Go hawks.

Big Ray

April 27th, 2011
3:59 am

Rotten loss, simply said.

Hawks have to sink or swim in the very next game, I have zero confidence in a game 7 otherwise. Remember the premise in the first part of this blog post, perfect storm waiting to happen and can only be avoided by the Hawks being what they can be, and not what they are.

I’m not going to play the blame game with this loss. It’s self-explanatory anyhow…

Magic could gain confidence here and be deadly. We shall see.