Archive for April, 2009

Plans for Sunday?

The Heat promise they're coming back to Philips Arena for some more high-flying action against the Hawks.

The Heat promise they they'll be back in Atlanta at Philips Arena Sunday for Game 7.

HAWKKSVILLE - They didn’t even make it to the bus before vowing to return.

“Don’t make any plans for Sunday,” Heat center Jermaine O’Neal told me. “I promise you, we’ll be back here Sunday.”

Little did he know that Heat swingman James Jones had already cautioned me about looking past anything other than a Game 7 Sunday between the Hawks and Heat in this first round playoff series.

“We’ll be back,” a smiling Jones said after the Hawks smashed the Heat 106-91 in Game 5 Wednesday night at Philips Arena. “We’re going to go back home to handle our business [in Game 6 Friday night] and we’ll see you back here this weekend.”

I’ve known both O’Neal and Jones since we all lived and worked in Indianapolis, I was the beat writer and they were toiling for what used to be an Eastern Conference power (the franchise formerly known as the Indiana Pacers). I know they’re competitors and they feel, just as the …

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Paying the price for a big win

Zaza and the Hawks soared once again Monday night in a huge win over the Heat. All they have to do now is do it again Wednesday night in game 5 at Philips Arena.

Zaza Pachulia and the Hawks soared Monday night over the Heat in Miami. Now all they have to do is produce an encore Wednesday night at home.

 

MIAMI - Mike Bibby got cracked in the nose and poked in the eye.

Josh Smith got the skin on the side of his face scratched off in three places.

Joe Johnson finished the game hobbling and was later spotted with his right foot in a bucket of ice before he was sent off to get examined to determine the extent of the damage.

Everyone saw Zaza Pachulia’s right eye, darkened around the edges by an unidentified flying object (or an errant elbow) that he doesn’t remember connecting.

Even Hawks equipment man extraordinaire Zac Walsh went down during the game (food poisoning) and was reportedly left behind at a local hospital to recover.

Oh, yeah, the Hawks paid the price for their monumental 81-71 Game 4 win at AmericanAirlines Arena a couple hours ago.

They paid dearly.

And they’d gladly do it again and again and again, if it means …

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The great (leadership) debate

Don't let the turtleneck sweater fool you. John Shaft was a bad man!

Don't let the turtleneck sweater fool you. John Shaft is a bad man!

MIAMI - Long after his Miami Heat had finished wiping the AmericanAirlines Arena floor with the Hawks Saturday night, Dwyane Wade said something that crystalized the difference between these two playoff combatants.

Asked about the leadership he provides for his team, the Heat superstar described his evolution as a team leader so perfectly, it almost sounded as if a Hollywood script writer had penned the response for him.

“One thing about being a leader is that it’s 24/7, 365 days a year,” Wade said. “It never stops. I was very disappointed with myself in Game 1. I was quiet, and that is not what my team needs. In Game 2 and Game 3 I took it upon myself to make sure that my voice is heard. To drive the points the coaches made and make sure they hear it again before they get on the court.”

You won’t hear anything resembling that from the Hawks. They don’t have a vocal leader in the mold of Wade (they don’t …

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No Marvin, no cry!

The Hawks won't have Marvin Williams tonight and possibly longer.

The Hawks won't have Marvin Williams to lean on.

MIAMI - The Hawks survived 16 games late in the regular-season without Marvin Williams.

Now it’s time to see if they can go the next 48 minutes or so without him.

The Hawks’ starting small forward has a soft black cast on his right wrist, inadvertently matching the American Airlines Arena crowd in their “Black is Back” get up for Game 3 in this first round playoff series.

A nasty fall late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s Game 2 loss to the Heat at Philips Arena will cost Williams this game for sure. There’s no indication of how much time he’ll miss altogether. That hasn’t been made clear as of yet.

Believe it or not, there are more pressing issues for the Hawks right now.

Whether or not the Hawks get overwhelmed by the Heat and this atmosphere that is off the charts crazy right now remains to be seen.

But know this, their road to winning this series has taken a drastic turn without Williams and with Dwyane Wade and his …

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Better pack some swagger Hawks!

The Hawks have played well in Florida this season. But it's been a while.

The Hawks have played well in Florida this season, including a season opening win in Orlando. They'll need to dial up another one, or two, in Miami.

HAWKSVILLE - The Hawks’ epic struggles on the road have been well documented this season.

From a fantastic start early in the season with wins over both Orlando and New Orleans to the end of the season, when the Hawks strung together gritty back-to-back wins (in Toronto and Milwaukee) to save their home court advantage fortunes, the Haws big hits on the road were few and extremely far between.

But if they’re serious about taking this first round playoff series over the Miami Heat, the Hawks better make sure they’ve packed some serious swagger for Games 3 and 4 in the house that Dwyane Wade built.

Play like the fragile, shell-shocked crew that got trounced in four games in Boston during last year’s series against the Celtics, and this series might end prematurely.

Show up like the supremely confident bunch that smoked the Magic …

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First blood?

The Heat have to be tired of seeing Josh Smith in this pose!

The Heat have to be tired of seeing Josh Smith strike this pose!

 

HAWKSVILLE - We haven’t seen any in this Hawks-Heat series yet, but I can’t imagine we’ll make it another four quarters without it.

Someone has to draw first blood.

And I don’t mean the kind that comes from an accidental scratch on someone’s arm or a stray pass that cracks a guy in the mouth and causes a trickle off the side of mouth, Dracula style.

I’m talking about blood produced by a good ol’ fashioned, wicked “hard foul” served up playoff style (I keep seeing Heat backup center and wrestling superstar in waiting Jamaal Magloire in the middle of the scrum). My gut tells me we’re going to see one tonight in Game 2 at Philips Arena.

That said, no one is interested in cheap shots. That’s not at all what I’m talking about. But sooner or later you figure someone is going to catch someone else with a clean blow that draws blood (the Hawks have already handled that, figuratively, by dotting the Heat’s eye with …

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Pump your brakes!

Hawks point guard Mike Bibby is preaching caution!

Hawks point guard Mike Bibby is preaching caution!

 

HAWKSVILLE - You’ve got to love Mike Bibby.

Aside from being hilarious, no player in a Hawks uniform is more likely to surprise you with what comes out of his mouth than the savvy point guard.

While most everyone else roaming the bowels of Philips Arena last night was either dazed and or confused as to what had just transpired (the Hawks’ 90-64 thrashing of the Heat in Game 1 of their first round playoff series), Bibby was already pumping the brakes.

That’s what veterans do, even after blowout wins. They provide gravity that others might not realize is needed.

Bibby surely remembers the talk in Boston last year after the Hawks were routed in Game 1. People there were proclaiming the series was over and the Celtics would sweep the Hawks.

Six games later the series was over. But it was much harder work than anyone could have imagined after Game 1.

Bibby is well aware that the Hawks need to pump the brakes today. Game 2 is …

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So much for home court advantage!

Are Josh Smith and the Hawks ready to fight Dwyane Wade and the Heat to keep home court advantage? We'll find out tonight.

Are Josh Smith and the Hawks ready to fight Dwyane Wade and the Heat to keep home court advantage? We're going to find out tonight at Philips Arena.

HAWKSVILLE - One by tragic one they fell Saturday.

Boston started it early, with a dazzling assist from Chicago rookie point guard Derrick Rose.

San Antonio kept it going, unable to keep the pace with an equally elderly … er, experienced Dallas team.

And Portland finished off the hat trick late last night, taken apart from start to finish by Houston’s Yao Ming and his crew.

So much for home court advantage, Hawks fans.

Your team has to come and play or all that hard work for home court could be gone in an instant if they allow Miami to steal the edge with  win tonight in Game 1 at Philips Arena.

I’m not making any predictions and I’m certainly not trying to scare you (I’d think Saturday’s pillaging of home teams was sufficient), I’m only pointing out that there’s no time to rest for the home team.

Come out sluggish early all …

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Time to dig into the Hawks and Heat

 

Joe Johnson and the Hawks will have their hands full with Dwyane Wade's Heat.

Joe Johnson and the Hawks will have their hands full with Dwyane Wade and the Heat.

HAWKSVILLE - Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers at point guard.

All-Stars Joe Johnson and Dwyane Wade at shooting guard.

Marvin Williams and Michael Beasley at small forward.

Josh Smith and Udonis Haslem at power forward.

And Al Horford and Jermaine O’Neal at center.

I spent more time than is mentally healthy thinking about those 10 guys (projected starters for the Hawks and Heat in Sunday’s Game 1 at Philips Arena) last night and early this morning. Such is the curse of playoff basketball, when your brain locks in on a specific set of teams and nothing else.

It’s still unclear how Hawks coach Mike Woodson and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra are going to play things. Both starting lineups could see a tweak here or there, though I’m fairly confident that the Hawks’ starting group will look like it does above.

The Heat, however, could go a couple different ways. Beasley could be used off the bench, …

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Playoff time(s)!

Time for the Hawks and Heat to get it on!

Time for the Hawks and Heat to get it on!

 

 

HAWKSVILLE - It’s after 2 a.m. and the NBA still has us waiting on playoff dates and times for the Hawks-Heat first-round series.

I know it’s only fair that we wait for all the regular-season action around the league to finish up before we find out the particulars, but who cares about fair?

Not me. I’m ready to get this thing started.

Tuesday’s dress rehearsal didn’t satisfy me.

No offense to Speedy Claxton, Randolph Morris and Othello Hunter and friends, but it’s time for the real games to begin.

I don’t know about you but I know I need the real thing and if our friends at the league office (or TNT, ESPN or wherever) would just hurry up we could all get on with things.

After all, we’ve known since the weekend that the Hawks and Heat were going to square off in the first round. Just give us the details already so we can …

BREAKING NEWS!!!! The dates and times are in and they are as follows (the 2-2-1-1-1 format and out friends …

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