Hawks Fans: Are you beginning to enjoy this?

After criticizing this Atlanta Hawks team’s playoff performances, some of us may have to change our tune. We’ve seen the Hawks win first rounds before, in the last two years. Both times it was an escapish situation, wherein the Hawks made of with a game 7 win. But how about tonight’s win? The Hawks did everything right in a sense, not succumbing to the mounting pressure of a possible Orlando turnaround. And you know what? They earned it. Yes, there is a difference between winning a series 4-3, and winning it 4-2. The difference is caring enough to knock a team out before they get a chance to take the series from you. The difference is wanting it to happen on your own court, instead of trying to ice skate uphill on your opponent’s. The difference is everything we thought the Hawks probably weren’t. Maybe we were just wrong. And yet, the Hawks needed to believe in each other far more than they needed us to believe in them. Do we believe in them now?

Are you beginning to enjoy this yet?

Performances

It would be easy to pick apart everybody’s individual performance, but winning cures all ills. Besides, a guy can play mostly terrible, indifferent, or great for the majority of the game. It all can change on a single key play. However, some outshined others.

Joe Johnson – Having had some pretty rough playoff series the last two years (and injuries didn’t help), it was great to see the all-star guard leading in his own way. Joe didn’t shoot all that well, but he hit some pretty tough shots and the added double figure rebound contribution was critical.

Al Horford – less than a star when it came to shooting, Horford added 6 assists from the pivot and came fairly close to matching Dwight Howard on the glass. Never a shabby thing.

Jamal Crawford – like Joe, Jamal didn’t shoot overly well, but he sure hit enough critical shots to keep things going. You can’t ask for better than 19 points off the bench from any one guy in a low-shooting, low-scoring game.

Josh Smith – 3-14 shooting and as many turnovers as rebounds makes you a goat. Blocking the opposing team’s desperation 3 point shot with the clock winding down when you’re up by 3 makes you a hero.

Kirk Hinrich – Timely and efficient shooting, along with the usual defensive effort.

Marvin Williams – solid off the bench with 10 points and 3 boards. No complaints here.

Zaza Pachulia – 5 boards, 5 fouls. He’s our #1 goon.

Jason Collins – never has a box score told so little about a guy’s contribution.

 

Future Considerations

The Hawks passed more than one test by not only beating a higher seed in the playoffs, but by not letting the series go 7 games. Now, can they prove they belong in the 2nd round and can compete? Adjustments will have to be made, as the Chicago Bulls are a totally different team, with totally different matchups. We’ll discuss those matchups as we get to the games, but for now, let’s talk about who has to raise their game for the next series. Here are my picks:

Larry Drew, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, and Josh Smith. Why? Because now the focus won’t be on freeing Al Horford and other bigs from the Beast of the East (Dwight Howard). And, the Bulls will provide better perimeter defense than Joe or Jamal saw against Orlando. On the other side of the ball, Joe/Kirk/Jamal will face a much bigger test in Derrick Rose all by himself. The Hawks will need scoring from their bigs. Drew won’t be able to go with the “throw Jason Collins in there” strategy, and will have to figure out how to score against this defense. And, there’s more where that came from….

….but who are your picks?

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest

132 comments Add your comment

niremetal

April 28th, 2011
11:24 pm

Oh hell yes, I’m enjoying this. And this…

Jason Collins – never has a box score told so little about a guy’s contribution.

…is spot on.

I’m not making any Chicago predictions until Hinrich’s status is clear. Per Arthur Triche:

Kirk Hinrich has a strained hamstring according to trainers and he will have an MRI on Friday.

Oy. Sprain and he’s out at least a week and won’t be at 100% for at least 2 weeks. Torn, and he’s done for the playoffs. Still, at least it’s not a knee injury.

NagoyaHawk

April 28th, 2011
11:29 pm

The Hawks shoved in my face and all the writers, bloggers, etc saying they’d succumb. I’m so glad I
was wrong. I’m enjoying watching the Magic lose to the Hawks, heck yeah. This season has already been a success.

merbertmoover

April 28th, 2011
11:35 pm

loving it baby! yeah hawks! makin my city proud! but i gotta say, smoove has been frustrating the hell outta me! i know he block the last shot and all, but dang! besides that, he has been constant liability….when LD subbed in smoove for marvin, i said “whaaaaat?” cuz marvin was playing good baby! anyway, bring on the big ogre from chi-town! we be throwing our boy zaza all over his azzzzz!!!! go hawks!!!!!

MannyT

April 28th, 2011
11:36 pm

I am most amused that Larry Drew, who loses more ugly in the regular season than Mike Woodson, does not have to win another game this post season to be as successful.

I suspect that LD will win at least 1 more game…probably more.

The Hawks find ways to make it look ugly & inconsistent, but it is entertaining. Kinda like going to NASCAR looking for crashes and an enjoyable race sneaks up on you.

Great series win for the Dirty Dozen Birds. They Forest Gump’ed the Magic…maybe not the smartest in your book, but clearly more successful this time.

Here’s a headline for you.

Hawks win…Magic feast on Crow (while watching Chicago play in 2nd round w/o them!)

ha ha

Ravenell DuPree

April 29th, 2011
12:01 am

It feels great being a true Hawks fan instead of a front-running bandwagon jumping Lakers, Celtics or Heat Fan. I suffered through 13-69 seasons, the JT & Shareef days and supported my team the Hawks. I was there when we finally got over the hump and made it into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years and was there when we beat the Celtics in Game 6 of the 08 series. To be a true Hawks fan you have to drink a jar full of tears and take the good with the bad. I was wearing my red and yellow then my blue and red cheering for the Hawks when teams like the Celtics and Lakers came to town with their bandwagon fans. I stayed true to my Hawks and you just don’t understand how great this win makes me feel. This win is so gratifying tonight. I don’t need to be a bandwagon Lakers or Celtics fan to get a “hollow championship”. I will stick with my Hawks forever and I believe that we will eventually win it all. True Hawks fans stay down no matter what. Also I have my tix vs the Bulls so Hawks fans I need for you to do the same so we can make Phillips hostile for the Bulls. Let’s Go Hawks!!!

merbertmoover

April 29th, 2011
12:10 am

ravenell dupree, man im right there with you dude!!!! true hawks fans are hard to find, but we be loving this victory for real! i been with the hawks for a long time too, and all you celtics/lakers/bulls fans can go jump off a bridge….cuz the hawks are gonna surprise, and our victories will be so much sweeter than yours!

fatso stan

April 29th, 2011
12:19 am

Chicago will destroy the dirty Hawks

scotty don't

April 29th, 2011
12:19 am

let me tell you guys something… we beat Chicago without J-Smoove and we will definitely win this series! JJ will stay in front of D-Rose every game… even if it means he only scores 10-15. Jamal and our front court can take this series on the offensive end. Noah freezes when he sees Big AL come in the gym.. Boozer is .. well.. just that .. a boozer. not worth a darn! zaza will itimidate him with his big head butting ways. Deng.. well he might be the X-factor, but I put my money on Smoove outperforming Deng.. all we need to do is keep a man on Korver at all times. Baby bulls are still baby… we can DO this ATLANTA. bulls are as beatable as any 1-seed in years. Bring on the D-Rose’s … it’s only 1 G vs. 5

DHunt

April 29th, 2011
12:43 am

I ALWAYS BELIEVE. and that explains why I’m often disappointed. This team beat Orlando without living up to it’s true potential. Twin and Zaza stepped up this series, and Jamal was obviously the MVP, but almost everyone else played at a far lower level than we would expect of them. And we still won.

So who has to step up next series?
1. Larry Drew – if he tries to play a gimpy heinrich instead of teague, I will officially be done with LD as a coach. no way Teague is that bad. He’s going to make mistakes, but on this team, that will just blend right into things like the JJ turnover parade, the Zaza can’t catch a pass or make a layup parade, or the Josh jumperama. The team overcomes all that, surely they can deal with a few gaffs from Teague. Plus Teague creates mismatches at the guards for us. JJ can overpower Rose or Bogans, and Teague can run past Bogans. Break this team down and feed the bigs to beat the help defense. Those are just a few of my strategies. LD is going to ahve to come up withhis own.

2. Josh Smith. Smoove needs to step it up. He had a very bad series against Orlando. I’ll chaalk it up to the fact that with Dwight patrolling the paint for 20 seconds at a time, nobody looked good inside. Josh can be the X factor in this series (unfortunately both good or bad). In fact, I’ll predict right now, that as Josh goes, so go the Hawks.

3. Somebody off the bench, not named Jamal. Marvin did it tonight, and even if they have to do it by committee, somebody off the bench not named Jamal had got to be productive on offense. The 1w minute scoring lulls are killing us. This also goes back to LD and his rotations.

Having said all that, Hawks take Bulls in 6, Celtics take Miami in 7, Hawks take Celtics in 6. You heard it here first.

DHunt

April 29th, 2011
12:45 am

make that 10 minute scoring lulls

doc

April 29th, 2011
1:13 am

great stuff ray. nailed it.

for the long term glad it is hammie ratyer than knee ligament. short term hope for strain that feels much better after whirlpool.

yup josh’ numbers sucked at least it was from clse range for the most part. nice double double by jj, huge.

M

April 29th, 2011
1:40 am

DAVID VS GOLIATH WIN, OHH YEA. DWIGHTS STILL GOOD OK, HE WOULD BE BETTER HERE. DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT DOMONIQUE ONCE INTRODUCED DWIGHT TO THE HAWKS YEARS AGO (BEFORE THE MAGIC GOT HIM) AND THEY TURNED HIM DOWN?? MAYBE THEY SHOULD RECONSIDER. TRUE STORY. “GO HAWKS!”. BEAT THE BULLS MAN!

JohnDingo

April 29th, 2011
1:45 am

How will teague handle starting?

Little Fawkers

April 29th, 2011
1:53 am

Get pass round two and I’ll be impressed. if not… same thing as previous years.

I do enjoy watching Zaza Pachulia play. He is our not as talented version of Bill Laimbeer.

Harry Hawk

April 29th, 2011
1:55 am

We’ve made it out of the first round three years in a row. That means nothing. If we knock off the Bulls, you can sign me up for the bandwagon.

Big Ray

April 29th, 2011
2:05 am

Harry Hawk,

It means something a little different when you’re the lower seeded team in the series….

M

April 29th, 2011
2:05 am

HEY MAN WE SHOULD BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF THE BULLS AS LONG AS NO-ONE ON THERE IS NAMED “MJ”, OR PIPPIN RIGHT?? NO PROBLEMO DUDE.

Big Ray

April 29th, 2011
2:07 am

Niremetal ,

You have a point. Hinrich is going to be key in this series as we go from throwing a multi-headed approach to a center, to a multi-headed approach to a point guard.

Dhunt ,

Good points. Josh really does have to step his game up in THIS series. Could be critical.

Big Ray

April 29th, 2011
2:10 am

scotty don’t ,

The matchups will be interesting. They may not go how you suppose, though. The issue is wearing out a guy like Joe Johnson. On one end, he’ll get his share of guarding Derrick Rose. On the other, he’ll likely draw Luol Deng as a defender from time to time.

We’ve shown we can beat the Bulls, and they aren’t more playoff-hardened than we are. But never underestimate a #1 seed….or a great player that’s having an MVP season.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 29th, 2011
3:23 am

“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. ”

ESPN seems to count those tip-outs as offensive rebounds.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 29th, 2011
3:30 am

For the Chicago series, Smoove and Al have to step up big time. Al has to be more of a factor offensively, and Smoove has to be more of a factor on the boards and on defense, both in man to man defense against Boozer and in help defense acting as a deterrent to Derrick Rose coming down the lane. Both of them need to average 10 boards a game for the series if the Hawks want to have a chance. Chicago is not a spectacular offensive team and they are very reliant on Derrick Rose, but they are outstanding on the glass. If the Hawks can match the Bulls on the glass, match the energy of the Bulls’ big men defensively, and control the scoring from Boozer and Taj Gibson, they will be competitive in the series.

vava74

April 29th, 2011
5:04 am

Let us not get carried away.

The MAGIC sucked throughout this series and would have been easily swept by CHI, BOS and would have lost to just about anyone else this year.

That mid season trade was a total disaster for them.

It may have also helped us that last year’s beat down made them come in with excessive confidence that in the playoffs Howard would dominate, we would collapse on him (like last year) and they would cash in from outside.

ORL played ONE game in which they were smart and played the right kind of basketball and in that game they ran us over (game 5).

I also think Bianchi’s column ended up have a double positive effect: motivated our guys and relaxed ORL.

SVG sucked big time this series in the battle of the idiots where LD showed that although he came up with the right strategy (play Howard one on one and close out on the shooters and penetrators, as some of us always said over the summer) as soon as adjustments were needed – Game 5 – “his wheels came off”.

It was sheer luck that ORL reverted back in to a good Hawks impersonation in game 6, playing impatient perimeter basketball, jacking up rushed and bad shots and having no one crashing the boards besides Howard.

Reid in EAV

April 29th, 2011
5:39 am

Do I believe now? Short answer: no. Here comes the Chicago sweep.

doc

April 29th, 2011
6:24 am

btw vava glad to hold tix and be there. still wonder how so few get into the building at the start. rafters empty then full. good crowd though even small.

Csmny63

April 29th, 2011
6:40 am

Is there any update on Hinrich? That knee twist looked ugly…

Same Ole Same Ole

April 29th, 2011
6:49 am

There is nothing to be excited about, I’m impressed a small small bit, but that is the extent of it. REMINDER! They are no farther than they have every been. 1st round elimination or 2nd round……..it means the same………………NO CHAMPIONSHIP!

hot err

April 29th, 2011
7:20 am

A jump shooting team can’t go too far in the playoffs.

vava74

April 29th, 2011
7:27 am

The KEY to be competitive against CHI is again to stop the perimeter shooting.

In particular by Deng (who has been killing us) and Korver (who is hot).

If Al puts his mind to it and brings back his blue collar mentality, he will be able to win the match up against Noah.

Boozer is perfectly within the limits of what Josh can do defensively man to man and sufficiently soft defensively for him to be able to attack the rim and get him into foul trouble.

Even if Rose goes for 45 points every single game, like Howard did on game 1, we can win if we shut down the perimeter shots from his kick outs.

Obviously, we need JJ and Jamal to be quick to pass off the traps which Thibs will devise to slow them down.

vava74

April 29th, 2011
7:30 am

doc,

I am relieved that you did not follow my advice. As I said above, you can thank the Magic though since they really shot themselves in the foot.

They really came to this game thinking that they had us in the ropes and coasted. Fortunately our guys did the opposite and brought the effort, if not their A game.

Also, by sheer luck, Richardson cut his feet before the game and was clearly gimp. That was very very important since his D on JJ faded really fast down the stretch and allowed him to shake off his “Albatross-Joe” tag, at least for one half and that was enough.

vava74

April 29th, 2011
7:31 am

Csmny63

It was an hamstring strain.

The prognostic is really bad.

Teague will have to step up to the plate.

vava74

April 29th, 2011
7:54 am

Rod, my “blog arch-enemy” :-D wrote a few weeks ago something that I feel was spot on:

CHI played the whole year playoff basketball.

This means that they may not have anything else to dig in from, whilst others* – including the Hawks – still had margin to increase effort and execution levels.

* the example was BOS playing possum to close the season

And the fact is that this:

http://hoopspeak.com/2011/04/atlantas-new-pick-and-roll-defense/

illustrates that someone within our coaching staff (Conner?) in the middle of all that incompetence on the bench actually thought about what would they be doing in these series, allowing us to improve (or maybe this was already in place against ORL during the regular season).

Let’s hope that they are also able to devise something to improve our D against CHI and close those shooters which, again, I feel will be crucial again.

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
8:42 am

Congrats to LD. He did something Woody couldn’t do (win a series in 6 and beat a higher seeded team). And he did something that McMillan hasn’t done in his Portland tenure, get out of the first round.

Joe gave us a real-life case study on why you don’t stop shooting when you have a poor start. I think he finished by shooting 8-15.

If Hinrich is unable to contribute, I wonder if playing Jamal extensively at PG would be such a horrible idea for ths series. Sure, his defense against Rose would be a huge problem, but has Rose ever had to guard someone like Jamal for extended minutes? Forcing Rose to work hard on defense wouldn’t be the worse thing.

Congrats to the Hawks and LD!

wordsmithtom

April 29th, 2011
8:58 am

Kirk straining hamstring is what it is. AWFUL Illustrates why LD SHOULD have played Teague during the last 6 games instead of going through the motions with the starters.

Now what. Teague is going to have to be, in the words of Hemmingway, “Boys to Men”. He was talking about the boys of Spain who became men during the Spanish Civil Way. Teague will have to man up. Have to. If he does, we have a chance. If he doesn’t, blame coaching for not developing a backup. But, we bloggers already know this. SMH at LD for not developing his bench. This is why Chicago and Boston are elite and we’re not.

wordsmithtom

April 29th, 2011
9:17 am

LD was an upgrade over Woody. Elite, however, he’s not. You can’t be an elite team without an elite coach.

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
9:20 am

Tom, LD is a better playoff coach. Sorry, I’m not one of those guys who dismisses 82 games because of what happens in ~12 playoff games.

The Core

April 29th, 2011
9:30 am

looks like The Core was right all along. Now onto the next phase of the Sund experience.
The Core

The Core

April 29th, 2011
9:35 am

If we can get CapnKirk back by the home game in Atl then nothing lost and we can watch Teague get some pt in Chitown. Might be a curve ball for Chitown if Jeff can show the same growth that the team going through. Steal game one with Jeff on Bad Ankle Rose!

vava74

April 29th, 2011
9:48 am

I know that it is politically incorrect these days but I would go Bad Boyz on the Bulls.

Step on that Boozer toe and on Rose’s ankle!!

dan

April 29th, 2011
10:07 am

Hey not to get ahead of myself but I am going to kind of miss ole Dwight Howard so I went to the ESPN NBA trade machine. So how does a trade in the offseason of we get Dwight Howard and the Magic get Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams.

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

Buck

April 29th, 2011
11:09 am

Congrats to the Hawks. Anyone have a link to that Orlando reporters column. I want to rub it in deep!

steve brown

April 29th, 2011
11:33 am

Can’t enjoy this team as long as Josh Smith is playing. I abhor his game.

kwooden

April 29th, 2011
11:44 am

Last was a tough win and showed some real resolve from the guys and the coaches. LD, bring in Marvin for a long stretch in the 4th and then coming back with Josh was a great move. The guys did a great job of sticking with the game plan of fouling Dwight and staying the shooters. The offensive really pickup in the 4th with the 3’s which made all of the difference because the defensive was not there at all.

A friend of mine who coaches basketball, but doesn’t specifically keep up with the HAWKS made a very simple but true observation about the HAWKS after he watched game 4. He simply said the HAWKS are very talented but “undisciplined”. It was something we all already knew but coming from someone who doesn’t keep up with the team it was very interesting hear all the things we talk about summed up in one word. Our team is consistantly, inconsistently. Their defensive is solid for 1 or 2 possession, them they come out and don’t do anything for 1 or 2 possessions. The same is true of the offensive. This inconsistancy points to being undisciplined. I hate to see Hinich go down because he seemed to be the one guy that consistantly did his thing, whether he was making shots or not. (move the ball, play solid defensive) We’re going to need the consistancy because Chicago is a totally different animal than Orlando.

GO HAWKS!!

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
11:54 am

vava, I think I would do the exact opposite of what you suggested in terms of stopping Chicago. I think I would try to keep them out of the paint and force them to shoot jumpers. I’m not convinced that they can make contested jump shots and if Rose isn’t penetrating in the lane (and thereby requiring weakside help), then chances are they will be forced to shoot contested jumpers. I’d try to keep Boozer from his sweet spots down low and try to keep Noah off the offensive galss. Much like 3-point shooting percentage was important in the last series, I think the key stat will be points in the paint. If Rose lights us up by making a bunch of 20+ footers (which he has shown that he can do this season), then so be it. But that makes him far less lethal than playing him tight and then watching him charge into the paint.

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
12:13 pm

vava74

April 29th, 2011
1:21 pm

Astro,

Deng killed us from the perimeter.

Korver is shooting lights out and was instrumental in getting the bulls back into the game or gain separation in several of the games against IND when they were more or less in trouble.

Bogans, he of the 2 buckets per game, scored several daggers against us.

We are not disciplined enough to trap Rose consistently and our guys don’t typically close out shooters well, only against ORL because their game was predictable.

Rose can’t score 80. Make him work, one on one and invite him to beat us just like we did to Howard on game 1.

That will keep everyone else cold and quiet and will give us a chance.

There is no worst defensive strategy than to overreact to an opponent’s top player.

Use Wilkins the same way that IND used George.

Bump him, trip him, step on him and when he gets by, hack him, but don’t give space for their other guys.

niremetal

April 29th, 2011
1:39 pm

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

vava, again, I disagree. We know how demoralizing it is to watch a guy blow by and get an easy lay-up. It sucks the life out of the team. The Bulls true strength is scoring in the paint… Rose penetrating, Deng driving, Boozer posting up and Noah crashing the boards. Much like we tried to take away the strength of the Magic (perimeter shooting) we have to take away the core strength of the Bulls. I’d be far more worried with Deng doing his imitation James Worthy drives to the basket than watching him pretend he is Glenn Robinson. Points in the paint… that would be my focus. Reducing their points in the paint by at least 20% from whatever their results were in the regular season. Force them to find points outside of the paint. If given the choice of being beat by Rose (in the paint), Deng (on drives), Boozer & Noah or Rose, Deng, Korver and Bogans shooting jumpers, I’ll take my chances on the latter in the series.

Ultimately, it comes down to “picking your poison” and Hawks fans know first hand that even open jumpers are not certain to go in. Heck, if we could run a Temple-type inpenetrable zone defense for 48 minutes/game, I’d be all for it in this series.

NCBravesFan

April 29th, 2011
1:49 pm

What’s become really cool about this playoff run is that the national folks hate the Hawks and no one believes in them (hell, most of the Hawk fans don’t either!) – they are truly playing with house money. Just keep playing hard guys and let others worry about living up to the headline billing and the expectations.

Rufus1

April 29th, 2011
2:51 pm

Astro Joe

April 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

I co-sign. The Bulls are not the Magic and Korver is the only real consistent 3pt shooter. Protect the paint, rebound and live with their jumpers. They win on hustle play and penetration, not jumpers.

joey1

April 29th, 2011
3:13 pm

if the hawks play with the heart and effort they played with against orlando in game 6 they will beat the bull in 6. but the question is which hawks team will so up??? the hungry team that plays with some much heart and effort like in orlando series game 6 or the team that often gives up when things dont go their way like in orlando game 5????