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

doc

April 28th, 2011
3:14 pm

yeah pretty awful, invisible, like marvinesque range.

Astro Joe

April 28th, 2011
3:20 pm

Funny, Joe has had a better series than I realized (after looking at the stats). Scoring 20 points when your team is scoring less than 90 is pretty good. The last game (when he didn’t want to play) was a real stinker but otherwise, he’s been doing fairly well in terms of scoring. 13 combined points from Joe and Dwight in Game 5… that won’t happen again.

doc

April 28th, 2011
3:24 pm

when was the last time a superstar laid as big an egg as jj did playing 35 minutes in a blowout?

Astro Joe

April 28th, 2011
3:37 pm

doc, it has probably happened before, for guys who are in his category of “superstar”. He didn’t show up the other night and most (who aren’t obsessed with Jamal) said as much the night of the game.

Rod from College Park

April 28th, 2011
3:52 pm

Exactly doc. But idiots like the one I keep going back and forth with keep trying to blame Jamal and Josh Smith. It really is amazing. If Joe performed in NY, Chcago or LA like he does in Atlanta, he might not even be able to leave his house. Horford should not be absolved of blame either. He has been a very average player this series also, after wanted to be a PF all year.

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
3:53 pm

AJ,

I think we need 45 points from JJ and Jamal combined. If that happens, then we have a good chance of winning. But All-Star Center Al needs to show up. And Josh needs to play under control and try not to be the hero.

It is a team game, so we need everyone to contribute. But JJ needs to set the example early.

Rod from College Park

April 28th, 2011
3:53 pm

When has a team that has two allstars ever depended on two non allstars (Josh and Jamal) to carry the team?

vava74

April 28th, 2011
4:13 pm

Rod, doc,

Again, English is not my mother language but I think I made myself understood.

The MAJOR problem with these Hawks lies with LD, then, due to LD, other obvious issues emerge.

The first one is the type of offense, which depends waaaaay too much on jump shots.

Consequently, one of the problems is our over reliance on Jamal, who I said could not be expected to keep up the level of play he showed in most of the first 4 games.

I called out JJ and Al as well and I was loud and clear doing it. I even said that Al is crapping his pants.

My “focus” on Jamal is solely a two men conversation with Rod, who thinks that Jamal is the next best thing after Kobe simply because he “can get his own shot” disregarding all the rest.

Rod from College Park

April 28th, 2011
4:45 pm

“My “focus” on Jamal is solely a two men conversation with Rod, who thinks that Jamal is the next best thing after Kobe simply because he “can get his own shot” disregarding all the rest.”

I actually don’t really like Jamal’s game that much, but he is the Kobe Bryant of this bunch. I defended him because you called him a “loser”, and a “streetballer” because he had never been to the playoffs, but yet you have never played the game. Also no matter what the Hawks do, you have to always find fault with Jamal, but yet he is our most productive player in the playoffs. If you spit venom at Marvin everyday, you would have no arguments from me, because he never does anything. If you spit venom in the playoffs at either of our two All stars, no arguments from me. You are simply a hypocrite, and are not knowlegable about the game, because you always talk about basketball being a team game, but then you try to bame everything on the “streetballer” Jamal. I have explained to you on numerous occasions that if you don’t like the way Jamal plays, then blame the coach. He is doing what Larry Drew ask him to do. LD has said many times that when Jamal comes in the game, he wants him to be aggressive offensively. Since you don’t speak english well look up aggressive. I’m sure he does not mean aggressive defensively. Teams are comprised of guys with different skill sets. Jamal is a scorer, not a streaky jumpshooter. He is paid to score the basketball. Defense is not his strong suit, and everyone knows that. Thus his role on the Hawks, a team that can’t score in the playoffs, is to score. He has done his job in 4 out of 5 games. So what’s your issue?

vava74

April 28th, 2011
6:29 pm

Rod,

My issue is that:

a) Jamal has performed abnormal and unexpectedly well and we should not rely on him continue to perform at this pace.

b) Jamal is a notoriously bad defensive player and a guy who, due to his inability to contribute in any other way, many many times off-sets his individual offensive production with his defects.

Given a) and b), Jamal is not skilled enough to warrant so many minutes in a team with “aspirations”, so my criticism of Jamal HAS ALWAYS been a criticism of, initially, Woody (over the summer) and now of LD.

As for Jamal being a “streetballer”, in my dictionary, that definition covers what I mention in b) above.

The “loser” to some extent is a “brand” if you like that I feel free to give to players who are individually talented but never developed aspects of the game which would maximize that talent.

Jamal is extremely talented but also deeply flawed due to his poor understanding of what it takes to contribute towards TEAM success.

Obviously other players have shortcomings, but the “loser” brand I reserve to the ones who are a waste of raw talent.

Jamal fits the bill, as did in the recent past (in various degrees), JR Rider, Glenn Richardson, Derrick Coleman, Penny Hardaway (to some extent), Mashburn, Marbury, Francis and as do now, Carter, McGrady, JR Smith, Harrington, Eddy Curry, Baron Davis, … and as some guys seem to be destined to be, going forward, if they don’t change in the meantime and round up their games, like Tyreke Evans, Monta Ellis, Jennings, Aaron Brooks, Smoove, …

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
8:02 pm

Hawks 6-17 so far. JJ starts off 1-5. Josh is 1-6.

Luckily, our defense has been better, which is one reason Orlando has 4 turnovers. Hawks up 1. Will the game change when jamal checks in?

vava74

April 28th, 2011
8:11 pm

Who the f*ck is the JJ impersonator who kidnapped him and is single handedly trying to destroy us?

WTF?!

vava74

April 28th, 2011
8:14 pm

Let’s hope that this is good omen!

vava74

April 28th, 2011
8:14 pm

5 point play!

vava74

April 28th, 2011
8:19 pm

Bad defensive possession on Arenas.

And JJ must look for the contact instsead of the finesse finish.

With so much rebounds and we have such a small margin.

vava74

April 28th, 2011
8:23 pm

Why on earth no one sets good picks in this team?

What kind of a sorry ass pick was that by Marvin?

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
8:50 pm

Falcons trade up to #6 for Julio Jones. I like the pick, but they gave up a lot.

As for the game, JJ and Josh and Jamal are a combined 10-35. But I like the activity on defense, and on the boards.

What adjustments will SVG make at halftime?

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
9:12 pm

How many shot clock violations have we had?

And to think, we once had a 10 pt lead.

vava74

April 28th, 2011
9:18 pm

Horrendous preparation.

These guys are in a perpetual pick up game

vava74

April 28th, 2011
9:25 pm

12 minutes. 7 points.

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
9:29 pm

Hawks are making jumpers, so the lead grows to 11.

And Marvin is making his open shots. That is what we need from him (in addition to defense of course).

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
10:07 pm

I didnt like how we played in the 4th (18 pts scored)…but its good to be on to the second round for the third year in a row.

Against the Bulls, LD will have to actually do some coaching…

vava74

April 28th, 2011
10:08 pm

Bianchi’s column had a double ripple effect: motivated us and relaxed ORL!

vava74

April 28th, 2011
10:09 pm

JJ shows up in the second half with some quality stuff.

Melvin

April 28th, 2011
10:10 pm

Let Dwight get fitted for his Hawks uniform before he leaves the highlight factory tonight…

Melvin

April 28th, 2011
10:10 pm

Big game from Joe, Marvin and Jamal tonight… I hope Kirk injury is minor….

niremetal

April 28th, 2011
10:11 pm

Full credit all around tonight. Especially against Orlando, there is NOTHING WRONG WITH WINNING UGLY

niremetal

April 28th, 2011
10:16 pm

What Kirk did tonight was the closest thing to taking a bullet that you’ll ever see in pro sports. Hopefully it’s just a superficial wound…

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
10:31 pm

We definitely need Kirk to compete in the second round. At least it doesnt start until Monday, so he will have a couple days to rest. Hopefully its minor.

Big shots from marvin. He only had 10 points, but they were timely shots. And that is what we need from him. Timely shots. He will need to do the same thing against Deng.

And JJ came up big in the second half. Jamal’s shot was off, but he made some key buckets too (like the 5-pt play).

Enjoy the win tonight, Hawks and LD.

O'Brien

April 28th, 2011
10:31 pm

I wonder if a new blog from Big Ray…is on the way?

doc

April 28th, 2011
10:34 pm

good crowd
far from a sell out
josh kind of blew up five points with a silly t o
he and team are giving the energy

keep it up fpr another 24?

Melvin

April 28th, 2011
10:47 pm

All the Hawks starters finished the game with negatives +/- minus stats but the Hawks still won… Throw the stats out the window and Just win babe…. LOL

vava74

April 28th, 2011
11:00 pm

Man, I am so freaking relieved that I was wrong.

Fortunately the Magic sucked big time and went completely off track from the plan that gave them the win in game 5.

I think Bianchi’s column had a double effect, motivating the Hawks and relaxing the Magic.

It seemed like ORL were simply waiting for us to lose the game (we nearly did it).

In the end, it was them that did a wonderful Hawks’ impersonation: loads of bad shots after little to no ball and player movement, followed by no one crashing the boards to get the misses (praises to our bigs too), and also horrible defensive rebounding (particularly in the first half and then in the last possession – clutch rebound tapped by JJ).

Jamal was is usual self, an igniter for both sides, missing badly his defensive assignment on Redick several times, including the next to last possession, but overall in these series I have to hand it to him, he was great.

JJ had ups and downs but even on the games in which his offense was not particularly impressive he was a work horse on D and people rarely realize that.

Ken Strickland

April 28th, 2011
11:09 pm

What’s up Hawk nation? I was discharged and made it home just in time to witness the 2nd half of the gm. I had complications during and after surgery, but that SILIENT ASSASSIN is gone. We all know there will be some who’ll find some rediculous reason to B!TCH AND COMPLAIN.

This is exactly the kind of playoff performance and victory Sund and the ASG were looking for when they hired Drew. I can’t spend too much time on the net, so I’ll say goodbye for now.

niremetal

April 28th, 2011
11:11 pm

One thing that amazed me was how active Joe was on the glass. I’m not even talking about the 10 boards he did get. I’m talking about the 4-5 times (at least) that he tipped the ball to a teammate for a rebound. Those don’t show up in stats, but in each case we definitely would NOT have gained/kept possession but for Joe’s no-stat activity on the glass. In a game decided by 3 points, those extra possessions are HUGE.

doc

April 28th, 2011
11:16 pm

well thst was timely

hard fpught gsme

hinrich injury did not look goid any indication of what happened?

doc

April 28th, 2011
11:19 pm

playoffs arr not sbout style points.

really good win. great crowd. where wre they at the start?

vava74

April 28th, 2011
11:19 pm

doc,

you don’t mind if I ask you what have you been drinking? :-D

hamstring is what has been reported

vava74

April 28th, 2011
11:21 pm

I think he will be out since it looked very severe.

He was in deep pain and had to be carried off.