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

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:06 pm

Smith is hitting jumpers. An ominous sign.

Down 21 as the Bulls show us what good ball movement can be like, even with less raw talent.

Rose dunk puts the exclamation point on it all.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:10 pm

Well Nostradamos has spoken….after the fact…. :lol:

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:12 pm

yep, pretty obvious red flag, but fans tend to be irrational… and disregard these signs.

I also fail to understand why we stopped exploiting Rose’s subpar pick ‘n roll D.

Teague should be make him work 30 possessions a game driving and dishing. It worked in the other games but we have completely stopped doing it.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:12 pm

Ugly. Al can’t catch a pass, Jamal can’t find a lane. Guys standing around.

Why is Marvin in the game?

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:13 pm

Vava ,

I think it’s a lost cause, but I don’t see why Teague is on the bench while Marvin is in the game.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:19 pm

Ted Turner leaving the game…and wondering why in the seven hells didn’t he sell the team to David McDavid instead.

Melvin

May 12th, 2011
10:20 pm

I just saw enough out of Pape Sy to get rid of Marvin

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:21 pm

And we again fell for the Howard syndrome:

We have been overreacting to Rose all night long and allowing CHI to hit the midrange pops COM-FOR-TA-BLY.

Very poor adjustments by LD if we can even detect any…

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:21 pm

Did Pape Sy just score? See! I told you he should have been playing all this time!

;)

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:22 pm

I was going to stop watching, but Pape Sy is in the game, so I can’t turn the game off now

Melvin

May 12th, 2011
10:24 pm

Hopefully this is Marvin last game in a Hawks uniform…

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:27 pm

Well, there we went.

New blog up in a day or two.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:27 pm

Melvin,

Don’t count on it. Nobody wants to pay him what we owe him for what he gives you.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:29 pm

Damn. Sy has some serious speed on him.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:29 pm

Takes good angles to the basket, too.

Big Ray

May 12th, 2011
10:29 pm

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
10:30 pm

Well, it honestly was fun while it lasted. Bad end to a better-than-expected playoffs.

Ken Strickland

May 12th, 2011
10:30 pm

If the Hawks intend to retain LDrew as the HC and want to improve, Sund and the ASG can’t afford to resign Jamal Crawford. Getting rid of Jamal is the only way to stop LDrew from indulging in the same STUBBORN STUPIDITY he shares with MWoodson when it comes to playing Jamal when he’s doing nothing. It was certrainly the only way we stopped him from consistently hurting the team by starting and playing Bibby heavy mins.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:33 pm

We had the Bulls on the ropes at the start of Game 2 and LD threw the game away by not putting hustlers on the floor.

He completely missed the preparation on Game 3, again, not understanding the importance of hustling.

Managed to make adjustments for game 4 and we got the win.

Game 5, well, we got jobbed and LD stuck with Jamal doing nothing so we had 2 pretty bad combo factors.

Game 6… a joke of preparation and joke with his “in-game adjustments”.

Melvin

May 12th, 2011
10:34 pm

Big Ray,

I think we could get rid of Marvin if we package him with another player or take back a bad contract that hopefully could help us. Brendan Haywood comes to mind…

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:35 pm

Rose seems to be a really nice kid.

I would like the Bulls to win it. It would make us look better than we really are :-D

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:40 pm

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:49 pm

Jamal shot .333 from the field and .173 from 3 point land in this series.

Still, he averaged 30 minutes per game.

In his defense, I think the refs stopped whistling any contact he got, but the hard fact is that in many shots he was trying to get the calls so badly that he became so notorious as an in-flight flopper that the refs simply don’t want to reward him and additionally don’t call when he gets really hit.

Ken Strickland

May 12th, 2011
10:50 pm

This is going to be an interesting off season for the Hawks. Do we keep the core intact, or will there be a trade of at least one core player. I’ve seen enough of Pape Sy to understand why LDrew wanted him so badly. He appears to be a very good perimeter defender, and he certainly has the speed, quickness and athleticism to to get to the rim and finish.

We need a starting quality center so Horford can move over to PF, and so we can maintain continuity with our starting lineup. I’m still a proponent of trading JSmith to Golden State for PG/SG SCurry and C ABiedrins. A starting lineup of:

C-ABiedrins-ZPachulia-JCollins
PF-AHorford-?(Armstrong, JPowell)
SF-JJohnson-MWilliams
SG-SCurry-Pape Sy
PG-JTeague-KHinrich

This starting lineup will give us far more OFF/DEF balance and OFF firepower. Biedrins can give us the interior DEF and rebounding we’ve gotten from Smoove, and Curry can make up for the OFF we’d lose without Smoove.

N.D.T.K.A.

May 12th, 2011
10:52 pm

Frustration.

vava74

May 12th, 2011
10:59 pm

Ken,

After this series, count me out of the “trade Josh keep Al” bandwagon.

I was never fully, but inclined to buy the ticket.

Horford is the best trading chip we have and he is PERFECTLY EXPENDABLE.

Zaza would have done more with Al’s minutes.

Josh needs a coach that gets him to see the light. There might not be a coach out there with that power but our PUFF FORWARD Diaper Al was a disgrace.

Al has no heart and no balls.

Josh may be a looney but he brings it more often than Al and impacts the game positively even when he is missing shots (he also impacts negatively).

vava74

May 12th, 2011
11:00 pm

…fully in, but I was inclined to buy…

doc

May 12th, 2011
11:02 pm

heh heh c webb said the first thing this summer that needs to happen in the off season is to blow up management. they have to dec if they want to win a championship then get players that can play at their best positions and not continue to draft players to compete at the same position. hmmm sound familiar? at least the spotlight has brought some credibility to the organizations players who c webb played over their heads and capabilities and that the accountability lies at the feet of the people at the top. go fu*king figure.

doc

May 12th, 2011
11:11 pm

couldnt take the last ten minutes had to leave.

seems htat the bulls threw a huge curve ball at the hawks where they said we are going to beat you inside from the get go and then executed it.

bulls in 6 games if boozer contributes 18 and 10. they are very deep and should be able to compete especially inside against the weakness of the heat. i hope. ;-)

JSS

May 12th, 2011
11:24 pm

To all of the regulars bloggers….
I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you… Even when we disagree, it has been a pleasure… And this is such a true honor in comparison to the rest of the blogs on the AJC… I know it hurts; but the expectations were so low, and they showed their strengths and their weaknesses… We’ve learned some things about this roster… Some of things are very sad (Crawford, Williams, and to a point Johnson). The failure of Horford brings a real cloud over the future… In the “who knew?” column: Josh and Teague, but will they completely shed their enigma status…

So here is hope that CBA is worked out and in late October we can all convene again and Vava can crack on me for wanting to pickup a young cheap big man to help use up fouls… It just won’t be the same without Rod trashing Marvin!

Chucktown38

May 12th, 2011
11:27 pm

Don’t look for a bed of ROSES in a port-O-potty ie the Atlanta Hawks. The team has talent but a very low basketball IQ on the floor. That is the simple reason they can not win. Nothing more nothing less.J Smith should never never never leave the paint and never never take 3’s. Well he should be traded if he can’t play smarter.

Chucktown38

May 12th, 2011
11:32 pm

the term trade is thrown around alot, and the words to use is BLOW this team up TRADE EVERRY ONE and start over’

niremetal

May 12th, 2011
11:34 pm

Say what you about the offensive stuff and defending Rose/Deng, but frontcourt futility on the glass and in the lane (on both ends) was the biggest strike against us in this series. Josh and Al combined for 9 rebounds in 76 minutes tonight. In every game coming into tonight, the Bulls reached double digits in ORebs. With the exception of Josh’s Game 4, our frontcourt simply did not provide an offensive presence in the paint.

I just didn’t see that coming. Our starting frontcourt being our achilles heel against the Bulls.

NUNNA!

May 12th, 2011
11:50 pm

Big Ray..Wats up??
1st lets be clear,the drew and his coaching staff are PRETENDING that they knew Teague was this good and would be playing like he is now..
Lets be honest here,he would not have played more than 9 minutes in this series if Drew had his way.

How many times have we heard this,this year Big Ray?

How many times has LD talked about the matchup problems that will face Teague if he did play?

Do u remember the 2 games he started after the trade for Kirk,and how he shut down Andre Miller?

Im sure u do,and i know those were only 2 games but even with the little playing time he had recieved up until that point he showed what he is capable of doing??

All i know is,Jeff Teague played well this series and show be our starter next year,but!!! I would not blame him if he called the hawks front office in the morning and said,”Hey thanks but now i wanna weigh my options and let you guys have your guards and i’ll go to another team..
I would not blame him..As a matter of fact,after watching the Pape Sy,Jordan Crawford,and JT relationship with the coaching staff i will warn ANY ROOKIE WHO IS DRAFTED BY THE HAWKS OR SIGNED IN FREE AGENCY,BEWARE AND DO NOT SIGN WITH THE HAWKS!!!

We will be known as career killers!!

NUNNA!

May 12th, 2011
11:54 pm

Hey Jamaal Crawford!!
I know u reading this tonite..
Holla at us and let us know what u think..And,what it is that u have been wanting to say all year..
And,are u coming back???

doc

May 13th, 2011
12:03 am

ditto to jss. well said. y’all come back now.

boozer is a stud for this team and we had no answer for him when he got going this series. their front line hammered us and stuck butts in our guys to set great box outs. i hope larry plays that stuff over and over again. i dont think the bulls will be an easy mark for the heat at all.

Ken Strickland

May 13th, 2011
12:37 am

VALVA74-I have to disagree with you on the Horford issue. He obviously didn’t have a great series, but to judge him based on that alone is a mistake. After all, he’s done enough over the last 2yrs to earn All Star honors, and that includes going up against bigger more physical players.

Smoove seems to be the one who looks to avoid contract, which is why he likes to float on the perimeter launching and missing long range jumpers. Smoove is the more talented and athletic of the 2, but Horford is more mature, versatile, and fundamentally sound.

Let’s not forget how much Smoove hurt us during the 1st 4gms against the Bulls, with his insistence on launching and missing so many consecutive long range jumpers. The only key player that can’t be singled out and blamed for contributing to our insistency and ultimate elimination is JTeague.

kwooden

May 13th, 2011
1:27 am

I hate to end the season this way, but the Bulls played great and I will give them their due.

Congratulations to the HAWKS for making to the 2nd round and improving on last year!

It was a really tough season, which didn’t end well.

vava74

May 13th, 2011
4:20 am

JSS,

Hilton could be the semi-youngster we need to complement Zaza’s characteristics.

I know that it was garabage minutes last night but he stuck his but into Gibson’s stomach and backed into a dunk in the closing moments.

We lack that. Zaza is an energy big off the bench to provide rebounding and when match ups favor him, some points off misses or pick n’ roll plays.

Josh with proper coaching will play better and closer to the rim. What he needs is someone who is not afraid to bench him when he strays off the right path. Accountability.

Al is now strictly a finesse big, a Puff Forward, so we need physicality and shot blocking inside, which is something that Hilton – a perennial underachiever – showed he is capable of doing if he got his act together since he has a foot out of the league in no time and needs to find a home.

Strange – not really – but after using a vast array of bigs against Howard, LD sat numbly throughout this series and watched us being burned by CHI’s energy on the boards and DID NOTHING.

He under-used Zaza is some crucial games (yesterday Zaza again proved that he performs with more minutes – 13 boards in 20 odd minutes), but beyond that, LD never tried anyone else.

Why not try out Etan’s physicality? Or Hilton’s athleticism?

LD is a fracking idiot who cost us a winnable series. Also, the Diaper Al – Boozer match up was horrible for us, whilst Josh stuffed Boozer all the time when they matched up. Only a blind man missed it.

Also, how can he justify the minutes given to Jamal when he was giving us nothing offensively and was being burned on D? Wilkins should have played consistent minutes to bring hustle, D and with that more transition buckets.

CHI won by hustling and defending like animals our best player (JJ) who even so had a passable series, given the poor preparation and adjustments made to get him more space.

Benching JJ when he over-handles should also be in the program: a quick pull, a small chat and back again.

Instead, LD watched most of the time the team perform like a small boat in the rapids… out of control and going with the flow without trying to beat it and influence direction.

LD was bailed by Hinrich’s injury: Teague proved that he deserved more minutes and that his skill set is something we are lacking, without him we would have been swept (mind that I like Hinrich A LOT and with a proper coach, we would have had Teague, JJ and Hinrich with the most minutes in the back court and Jamal strictly as scorer off the bench who would be pulled when under performing).

So, strictly a lucky event for LD, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence is forced to consider Teague’s performance an indictment of LD and evidence of how weak of a coach he is.

Big Ray

May 13th, 2011
5:32 am

New blog up…some of you are going to burn me in effigy… :)