Hawks Fans: Game 6 and Teague’s ascension

Tonight’s game in Atlanta should be a good one as the Atlanta Hawks look to stave off a third straight 2nd round playoff elimination. Atlanta will have the fans on their side this time (at least for the most part) and that is never a bad thing.

What’s great about this series is the fact that the Hawks are showing that they can win, that they are good enough. What they have a chance to show tonight is that they will do what they’re capable of. They need another performance like game 4, only better. Every player has to play his role to the hilt to beat this Chicago team. Atlanta is capable, and they know it. They also know what makes them lose games, and Chicago knows it too. That is the part that gives Hawks fans the most hope and the most consternation at the same time – the fact that this team really does have what it takes to win the series. They just have to execute.

The Plans of Attack

- We already know that Joe and Jamal need to have good games for the Hawks to have a chance at winning game 6. The Bulls know this as well, and will look to force the issue by harassing both guys, and settling for one of them having a bad game. It worked in fine fashion for Chicago in game 5, as we saw. The Bulls have a chance at closing out this series if they can keep one of the Hawks’ two dynamic scoring guards from doing what they do best.

What do YOU think? Can the Hawks win on the strength of good performances by Joe and Jamal?  

- Another ploy involves frustrating Al Horford and trying to temper his aggression by staying all over him and making him uncomfortable. Horford has to know this is what’s going on, and he combated that fairly well in game 4. However, game 5 yielded similar results to his other games. Horford did not make as many plays (3 assists) as he did mistakes (4 turnovers) and stayed off balance with 5 personal fouls. Let’s keep this nice and simple. Horford needs to score in the teens to help his team, and keep his rebounds at the level they are at. A handful of assists always helps, but being a scoring promise (as opposed to just being a threat) helps more. What’s the difference between a promise and a threat? A threat is a guy that is defended and stays defended/contained. A promise is a guy who scores and forces the defense to react to him, which gives him a chance to make plays with the ball as well.

What do YOU think? Have a different idea on how Horford can best help the Hawks win?

- The final strategy isn’t an active strategy, it’s a passive one. The Bulls really have no particular answer for Josh Smith, as they saw in game 4. They have trouble defending him in transition, and anybody who draws the assignment of guarding him in the post is either too slow or not strong enough, and nobody can match his athletic ability. Even if he doesn’t always cash in at the free throw line, fouls are fouls and can limit a key player’s minutes at the worst of times. So How does Chicago defend Smith? The only truly effective way is to push him out to the perimeter, or lay off of him when he wanders out there on his own. Josh around the arc isn’t nearly as deadly as Josh near the basket. His athletic ability (translation: quickest and highest leaper on the court) is null and void 18 or 20 feet from the basket where anyone weighing more than 100 pounds will also be able to box him out from rebounds.

The simple fact is this – if Noah can more or less nullify Horford, and the Chicago defense can contain Johnson and Crawford (or just one of them), it just about all falls to Josh Smith. If he plays into Chicago’s hands, it could very well be over.

What do YOU think? Is Josh Smith the key to a Hawks victory in game 6 (or the series overall), or will somebody else step up?

SIDE NOTE: Do not underestimate the importance of the “first strike” concept. Both teams know that they stand a better chance of winning if they strike first, and strike hardest. Chicago learned the hard way that Atlanta has enough scoring firepower to ride a lead and make you work from behind, then blistering you with jumpers in the 4th quarter (provided they are falling). The Bulls know they can’t win that way, as they don’t have enough offensive firepower to make more than one or two strong offensive runs, so they take a different path, one which suits them best. They’ll look to gain a first quarter lead as well, then use their defense to keep their heads above water and ride the game out. In games 1 and 4, the Hawks strategy prevailed. In games 2,  3, and especially 5, the Bulls strategy won out. Game 6 may very well be about which team is able to execute their base strategy the best.

The Jeff Teague Argument

It seems we just can’t enjoy the emergence of our 2nd year point guard without arguing about how it all happened. But hey, this is a blog, so why not? Here are some thoughts and questions related to the latest jousting match:

1) How much credit does coaching get here? Some of the comments all year long were entirely not in Larry Drew’s favor. He’s been hammered for everything from who he plays, his substitution patterns, and his ability to hold players accountable for their actions. The problem with crediting Drew or anybody else with Teague’s “sudden” emergence is that if coaching is all it took to mold him into the player he is now, then what took so long? If Teague wasn’t ready to shoulder more responsibility, as many said he wasn’t during the season, then wasn’t that a coaching problem? It can’t be had both ways. If coaching is the answer, then coaching was also the problem. It’s either that, or you have to also give credit to Teague himself for receiving the coaching that he was given, and doing the right things with that instruction.

2) Would we get to see this from Jeff Teague if Kirk Hinrich was healthy enough to play against Chicago? Now there is an uncomfortable thought, probably moreso for some than for others. Hinrich was named the starter and Teague barely sniffed the floor against Orlando. Matchups could have something to do with it, but something tells me that Teague would have received similar treatment against Chicago if Hinrich was healthy. In this series, we are seeing two things that were often used as arguing points during the regular season – not only are we winning with Teague, we’re NOT LOSING because of him. I’d need a calculator to add up the number of times that people said we should not sacrifice wins for a single player’s development.

3) What does Teague’s current production prove? I would say that it proves that Teague maybe should have gotten more playing time during the regular season. Not for the sake of “development”, but for the sake of experience. Him playing more in some games may have meant more wins. Then again, maybe not. But at this point, can’t it be a hindsight possibility if nothing else? It may also have meant more confidence for Larry Drew, who has been limited at times when it comes to lineups. If Teague had played more, he would have more experience in dealing with different point guard types (strong vs. fast, physical vs. finesse, etc).

It also proves that Teague can play against arguably the best point guard in the League. Can he consistently beat him one-on-one? No. Rose is the best, and his MVP trophy shows that. But Teague can score on him and bother him on the other end. You can’t hope for more than that. On the other hand, this is also a sobering thought. Who else can Teague play well against? We don’t know. What happens when he is matched up against a different type of player? We don’t know. What we do know now, is that Jeff can truly compete for and earn the job as starting point guard. And knowing this, if he earns it (and there’s little reason to think he can’t or won’t), then there should be no question of his status, regardless of different matchups from night to night. No such thing as a part-time starter. Either you’re a starter, or you’re a bench guy who sometimes starts, as necessary. There should be no limbo next season, the Hawks have suffered through this long enough.

Have a different thought? Feel like it doesn’t matter how Teague got where he is, so long as he’s here now? More worried about some other element of the team’s performance? Sound off!

By the way, if you want to see a truly excellent (and revealing) article on the Larry Drew/Jeff Teague subject, then check this out.  The AJC’s Michael Cunningham is The Man….

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog

140 comments Add your comment

IceColdATlien

May 12th, 2011
2:50 pm

START ZAZA!!!!!!!

Astro Joe

May 12th, 2011
2:55 pm

doc, I’ve been waiting for someone to suggest that Acie could have done this if he had been provided the opportunity. After all, all any of these guys need is playing time and they could all be good NBA players.

IceColdATlien

May 12th, 2011
3:08 pm

You’re right Astro, just about every 1st round pick gets a chance for playing time… especially at a position of great need for a given team.

Teague may have just not been ready until now. Don’t forget that Rondo made his name in the playoffs after a year or two of frustrating performances.

At this point, it’s almost mundane to keep arguing about the “what if’s” of having played Teague earlier. He’s taken his chance and run with it, so let’s all just agree that he’s here to stay.

Now, can we all just get on board the “START ZAZA NOW!” train??? That guy would definitely bring the energy and urgency that our starting lineup has needed just about all year. I guarantee we wouldn’t see a 46-second timeout tonight like we did in Game 3. Give Zaza 25+ minutes and I also guarantee that the rebounding margin would even or in our favor. Let Boozer try another dirty-a$$ forearm like the last game, and Josh won’t have to worry about it… cuz Zaza would handle that nonsense!!

START ZAZA TONIGHT!!!

doc

May 12th, 2011
3:31 pm

aj was never a fsn of acie as you know

he yas had plenty of ops so a different story or at least a different ending

doc

May 12th, 2011
3:41 pm

as far as teague goes, the game has slowed down for him over the year. nice to see it when playees seem to get there and let the game cpme to them rather than force it. josh among others is guilty of it and it shows as a team when things start implodong like they did tuesday. another guy in zaza to have found a peace in his game and brought it back to where o thought it should be. hopefull this isnt a fleeting thing for them both.

Astro Joe

May 12th, 2011
4:59 pm

I just heard that Al Horford was named to the NBA All-Pro 3rd Team… as a center. OK, I teed it up, who wants to swing away?

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
5:07 pm

I hear Tito filed a letter of protest, AJ.

Sautee

May 12th, 2011
5:22 pm

harpie

May 12th, 2011
6:17 pm

Teague rules, Larry drools…

harpie

May 12th, 2011
6:20 pm

If life were just, next season Jeff Teague would be an NBA starter, and Larry Drew would be a rec league coach.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
6:37 pm

Only just now I managed to finish watching Game 5.

Man, I would refuse even to go into the court for Game 6.

Yes, we had a few bonehead plays BUT WE WERE MUGGED by the refs in the 4th quarter.

Phantom calls in favor of Rose (for +1 plays), no calls on clear fouls on Teague (2 in a sequence of 15 seconds – fouled on a lay up attempt, he recovers to steal the ball on our back court from Rose, fouled again), JJ is slapped several times by Deng and what is usually called 3 FTs suddenly it’s “great D” by CHI.

We were butt f*cked Marcellus Wallace way and we did not get the benefit of a rescue!!!!

vava74

May 12th, 2011
6:41 pm

And those were just some of the highlights of the second half of the 4th quarter…

vava74

May 12th, 2011
6:47 pm

Diaper Al is the “Huggies MVP” selection for this year’s playoffs.

His ass is so tight when he launching his jump shots that it’s almost pitiful to watch.

He is, nonetheless, an acceptable All NBA 3rd team selection but if we have to compare, JJ was much more deserving selection last year.

Al gets there because the competition is thin.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
7:05 pm

Astro,

This is specially for you:

“hat the heck got into Teague?

To J.J., who said all season that the Hawks just needed to trust in Teague, the difference is simple.

“Just minutes,” he said. “Getting the opportunity.”

To Teague, the difference has not just been playing more; it’s knowing the Hawks need him to play more.

“I would say that’s the difference,” he said. “During the season I didn’t know if I was going to play one game and if I was going to sit the next. Now, knowing that I’m going to get an opportunity to go in every game, I just try to focus and give a good effort.””

tjhook

May 12th, 2011
7:33 pm

Somebody help me! I’m at work wanting to watch the Hawks game and all I have available is my IPhone. Can somebody send me a link so I can watch it. I would be deeply appreciative

vava74

May 12th, 2011
7:57 pm

Tj

I think you may need quit your job.

Since the iPhone doesn’t have flash you will not be able to watch it…

vava74

May 12th, 2011
8:00 pm

Or you download and pay for the subscription of the NBA leaguepass gametime app

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
8:15 pm

Doesn’t cover the playoffs I think, Vava.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
8:29 pm

right on cue LD making the wrong move: Jamal for Teague…

vava74

May 12th, 2011
8:37 pm

what a retard… my goodness…

our wins came with us playing small with Teague, Jamal and JJ, limiting Jamal’s minutes at the PG.

Also, when Jamal did play PG in the games we won, we were LEADING, not trailing.

This bleeping idiot will not learn.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:13 pm

clancy ,

Not only is it possible, that’s the way it SHOULD be. It’s not like Hinrich ever hurt this team. Certainly no more than any other newcomer, and far less than most. Fact is, he’s been a help .

jlewis ,

I promise I’ll answer your question. But it won’t be until after the playoffs are over for the Hawks. You’ll understand why when the time comes.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:14 pm

Josh Smith on the break after a defensive play – this is him at his best and provides a rallying point for the team. We need more of that.

We also need more of Al Horford taking it strong to the basket the way he did when he went for the dunk and drew the foul. That, and hit that outside jumper.

Teague continues to give us some lift and JJ is still working hard against double teams.

Unfortunately, we are STILL getting our butts handed to us in the paint. And it shows.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:16 pm

what a frackking idiot, what a frackking idiot.

As soon as the Bulls show some momentum, the match ups should be Josh on Booz, Al on Noah and then bring Zaza to mix it up.

Collins was not working. He had to make a move earlier.

And to sub Teague for Jamal being just 6 points down and us clearly having problems on D in the front court he gave the game away.

And WTF was this last play? We have an opportunity to go to the half under 10 points and the best he can do is have JJ bring the ball up and pass to Josh at the 3 point line?

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:17 pm

Thank God once more for Zaza Pachulia. He literally has half the team’s rebounds. And Kyle Korver has no idea how close he came to receiving the Forehead of Doom …..

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:24 pm

I really don’t care at all for Jon Barry.

N.D.T.K.A.

May 12th, 2011
9:24 pm

Based on the performances in these playoffs, should Josh Smith be traded this summer? Do the Hawks need a new coach?

Based on what we have seen in the playoffs these are very good questions to ask and now is a perfect time to ask them? How can you not be up for an elimination game? If a team is playing pressure defense on you do you look to create space to take your jump shot or do you drive to the basket to force a foul or basket?

Amazing the things you can determine from a playoff series!!!

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:33 pm

LOL @ Department of Unintended Irony ….yeah, I do have fairly good sized hands. I wear a size 15 ring if that gives you any indication…

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:35 pm

Perimeter shots continue to miss. Bulls defense remains stout.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:36 pm

moving screen by Noah… yeah, great refereeing

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:38 pm

Vava ,

Remember all those comments you made to me in the preseason about Chicago, the moves they made in the offseason, and that whole Horford vs. Noah thing?

Oh never mind. It’s much easier to lay everything at the feet of Larry Drew and Jamal Crawford.

:twisted:

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:39 pm

The big line up with Collins was not working to start the game. What persuaded LD that it would work to start the 3rd?

Coaching dogmas like this one make you wonder if the co-pilot of the Airplane movie would not do a better job…

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:40 pm

Noah turns sideways and the refs don’t see anything but hair floating 7 feet off the ground. You gonna call hair for a foul :twisted:

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:41 pm

Collins with a clutch basket. Never thought I’d say that, but hey….

Meanwhile Boozer beats Horford for an offensive rebound.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:41 pm

Bogans thinks the call was bogus.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:43 pm

My goodness look at Teague go…

And look at Josh get burned for the third time in a row, closing out on a jumpshooter.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:45 pm

Teague is out…and for what? If Crawford doesn’t come in hot, this looks like a baaaad move. If anything, I’d have let Joe get a minute or two rest.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:46 pm

Sorry, Josh wasn’t burned for the third time in a row, it was the Hawks defense in general that was burned by a jumpshot because the Atlanta defender keeps staying too far off.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:49 pm

We’re getting bambBOOZERed.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:49 pm

Joey Crawford can suck a *censored*

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:51 pm

I don’t think I’ve seen an uglier play. Joe pounds it for too long as his teammates stand around watching, then he drives to the hole and makes a beautiful pass that Al Horford does his best to fumble away, and it ends up being a 3 point attempt by Josh before Zaza rescues them with an offensive rebound. Josh draws the foul on a scoring attempt and promptly misses free throw.

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
9:53 pm

The Hawks came out flat tonight. Unless there’s a switch somewhere that they can flip in a hurry, this season has about 30 minutes left in it.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:55 pm

Ray,

Those commentaries where made when we had a guy called Boss playing for us. Not Diaper Al.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:55 pm

trade Horford.

he has the most trade value and is a soft pile of cr*p

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
9:56 pm

Going to be very difficult to break Chicago’s momentum and confidence at this point. The Hawks would need some lucky breaks, some very focused play, and to suddenly begin shooting about 15% better than they have been all game.

In other words, I think it’s over.

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
9:57 pm

Wow. Three airballs in one possession.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
9:59 pm

Al has defended Boozer badly all series long. all series long.

when Josh defended Boozer he stuffed him several times… but LD insists on Diaper Al on Booz.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:00 pm

Vava ,

Unfortunately, the Boss and Diaper Al share the same body. That was my point back then – Al’s words about playing a different position were a warning. A warning that nobody seemed to think much of until they see what they see now.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:03 pm

Heh. Found ourselves a new player to hate, have we? LOL

Melvin

May 12th, 2011
10:04 pm

I’m sorry to say but I never seen perennial All-Star players (especially teammates) get taken out of their game so easily as Joe and Al.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:06 pm

we were jobbed in game 5 and we have been jobbed in this game too.

add to this LD’s horrible preparation and the result is just about where I expected it to be.

the cherry on the top was Teague’s injury that threw him off his good mojo.