Another double-shot weekend

The Hawks' welcome home gift is a date Saturday night with Dwight Howard and the Magic.

The Hawks' welcome home gift is a Saturday night date with Dwight Howard and the Magic!

 

BOSTON - Live from the Hawks’ second home the past year … seriously, has any team spent more time in another team’s town the past 11 months than the Hawks have here in soggy Boston?

It’s ridiculous.

Another couple of days here and the Hawks will need to start paying taxes.

Lucky for them this is probably their last tryst with the Celtics until next season (no more Duck Tours or Big Baby Davis for at least a year).

Coincidentally, this is their last weekend to try and climb off the mid-major express and move over to the predatory side of the Eastern Conference.

Tonight’s game against the Celtics and tomorrow night’s home tilt against the Orlando Magic presents the Hawks with two final opportunities to knock off the big boys.

Another inspired defensive effort like the one against the Lakers last Sunday and the Hawks might finally get the leprechaun off their backs or pay back the Magic for those back-to-back beatdowns administered a couple months back.

Another eyes-wide-shut showing like the one given in Philly Tuesday night and someone better find the map back to sanity for as one of one of our regulars likes to refer to them, “Team Fragile.”

I believe in embracing a challenge, however daunting it might seem. That’s why this second straight double-shot weekend looks more like a monster opportunity to me than it does a major hurdle.

If the Hawks are serious about being a player in the playoffs – and despite their continued inconsistency on the floor, they remain steadfast in their comments to the contrary off the floor – they can go a long way towards making sure their actions and words are in sync with some stellar play in the next 36 hours.

HOT TOPICS

1 - One thing that keeps coming up this time of year for playoff bound teams is who they might face in the postseason.

That means the Hawks spend as much time worrying about the team’s directly below them in the standings as they do worrying about themselves.

A good friend and advance scout from an Eastern Conference team that’s been in the playoffs the past few years warned me this afternoon that there is no more dangerous development for a team still in the shallow end of the playoff pool.

“We wasted a lot of time and energy on that very thing a couple years back and almost lost our spot in the standings the last two weeks of the season because we were locked in stuff that was out of our control,” he said. “You can tell the teams that lost focus this time of year by the fluctuations in their play. One night they look great and the next you wonder how it he world they’re even in the playoff mix. That’s the sign of a team that isn’t totally licked in on the task at hand. And that’s a team that’s vulnerable now and in the playoffs.”

I can think of five or six teams, the Hawks, Heat and 76ers included, that fit that mold these days. All three of those teams are busy jockeying for position, hoping to land the seed they think allows them the best first round matchup.

My scout friend makes a great point. The more time you spend foolishly spying on the competition, the less time you spend focusing on finishing the season with a bang.

2 - The back bug continues to bite the Hawks on the backside. No Acie Law IV again and no Marvin Williams anytime soon, per Hawks coach Mike Woodson at shootaround today.

Woodson has maintained a positive stance in regards to the lower back injuries that both players are dealing with. And to be fair, Williams wasn’t expected to return anytime before the final week of the regular season and the start of the playoffs (at best).

Acie Law IV's return would give the Hawks reason to smile.

Acie Law IV isn't smiling a whole lot these days.

Law’s injury, though, is starting to worry me if only because there doesn’t appear to be anything that can be done to expedite his recovery at such a critical time for this team. You remember the Hawks’ struggles in the playoffs last year at the point guard position don’t you?

And for all the work Flip Murray has done in relief this season, his attention needs to be on scoring above all things, particularly with the playoff matchups looming (I’m predicting Flip has a field day against Philly or Miami in a series).

A change-of-pace point guard could be the difference in a seven-game series, just ask the Celtics if it made a difference against the Hawks last year when Rajon Rondo became the Most Important Player in the series.

With Law nowhere to be found, or at least not in a uniform, that leaves the Hawks vulnerable at that crucial position once again this weekend and going forward.

3 - So let me get this straight, the confidential drug screening that goes on during the NFL combine every year has turned up yet another handful of transgressors?

Just exactly what qualifies as confidential in NFL circles anyway?

I’m sure Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji would love to hear how that supposed to work since he’s been identified as one of the alleged transgressors.

Since there’s no way Raji or his representatives are going to engage in any air-clearing discussion about it, the kid is automatically considered guilty by the public without anyone knowing what actually took place and why someone chose to make it public. (I know this is off track from our normal conversation but indulge me for a minute, please.)

4 - Lost in the hoopla surrounding his explosive offensive night against Philly (some video evidence here courtesy of our friends at YouTube) was Josh Smith keeping his 100-block season streak alive for another year.

And while his block numbers are way down this season compared to his totals from the past, he collected 200 or more in each of the past three seasons, he remains one of the league’s most unique stat stuffers.

His two blocks against the 76ers gave him 101 for the season, giving 100 or more for five straight seasons.

In addition, Smith is one of only four players in the league to pile up at least 85 steals and 85 blocks this season. Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Denver’s Nene are the others.

5 - You are not alone Hawks fans. You’re not the only group of fans out there doing the Watchmen routine on your own team.

My main man Broderick “BT” Turner from the Los Angeles Times has a fan Q&A on the paper’s website right now that is a must read for fans of teams whose teams aren’t on track for 60-wins this season.

Silly me for thinking our priorities were out of line around here for questioning how the bench is used and why Solomon Jones doesn’t see regular rotation minutes on this team. The Lakers are the second best team in the league and their fans are worried about the same sorts of things.

Maybe we’re on the right path around here after all.

Don’t forget, Hawks-Celtics at 7:30 live from TD Banknorth Garden. Chop it up with the rest of the blogfamily here now all the way through the final buzzer.

 

272 comments Add your comment

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
4:02 pm

Sekou,

Any news on the nature of Law’s injury? What’s the diagnosis?

And did it happen on the court?

For us to have ANY chance of winning tonight, Horford will have to raise his game back up to where it was LAST week. Dude’s disappeared for a couple of games.

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
4:21 pm

Sekou, you hinted at a return of Speedy a few blogs ago and now you’re saying that the Hawks don’t have a change of pace PG (with Acie’s injury). I assume that means that Speedy will stay in the enclosed glass as Woody does not believe he is yet in emergency mode (break glass in case of emergency).

I MUS.WRITE

April 3rd, 2009
4:39 pm

MVP ….. Pulleeze

Ken Strickland

April 3rd, 2009
4:43 pm

RICHBRAVE-this is from the lzst blog. I apologize for using your name. I was addressing ASTRO JOE, but after watching the Wizards defeat the Cavaliers, I had you on my mind.

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
4:46 pm

No Speedy Joe. You have a better chance of seeing the floor tonight (tomorrow or beyond) than ol’ Speed-O!
And Law’s back injury wasn’t a contact situation Sautee. I was told he woke up one morning and his back had locked up on him. There’s nothing they can do but continue treatment until he gets better. Strange huh?

calico

April 3rd, 2009
5:32 pm

We have to get big al the ball early and i find it funny you didnt mention the two usc linebackers who tested positve for performance enhancing drugs.(Clay Mathews & Brian Cushing) But you mention Raji’s mary jane offense thats crazy. Lets Go Hawks

Ron E.

April 3rd, 2009
6:06 pm

Acie Law? Who cares? The only playing time he’d get in the playoffs is when the Hawks are down 20 every single road game.

The Truth

April 3rd, 2009
6:09 pm

The timing of Ace injury still seems strange to me. Even after Sekou’s explanation of how his back went out, I’m baffled even more so. That’s an explanation a 70 year old man gives to his doctor trying to describe an unknown illness. Normally, you would expect a certain relationship between the coach utilization of his players and their frequency to injuries. Since Acie has seen limited minutes and still a young NBA player, his injury to me seems out of the ordinary. I think of all the bandwidth been spent talking about Acie needing more playing time to developed and for the second time in his brief NBA career he gets an untimely injury when his team needs him the most. Is he snake bitten with bad luck or what? Or maybe Acie has pissed off a fine voodoo woman from New Orleans while perusing her tail. What-even; in either case, in addition to a back specialist, perhaps he needs to visit a Karma doctor or exorcist. If a bad contagious Karma thing has run a muck, maybe that would explain the Hawks recent struggles; just a thought. At least this wild idea gives the Hawks an excuse for their sub par performance.

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
6:19 pm

Sekou, you talk about not having Acie for the playoffs? Does it matter?

Last year, Bibby was injured, and he struggled against Rondo in the playoffs. During the halftime interview (of game 2 I think), Woody admitted that he needs to play Acie more because he is bigger, faster, and a better defender. And what happened for the rest of the series? Acie got very little PT.

In the regular season, Acie got very inconsistent and little PT, so why would you think Woody would give him valuable minutes in the playoffs, even if he was healthy?

Ken Strickland

April 3rd, 2009
6:25 pm

Sometimes I wonder if Acie’s injury is just a way of sending a message to Woodson for his uneven treatment of him over the last 2 yrs. With Marvin out and the team being in the stretch run, and knowing Woodson isn’t going to play him anyway, this would be a perfect time to pull it off.

I guess Acie feels if Woodson can put his personal issues, wants and desires ahead of what’s best for the team, he can do the same.

Shaunty

April 3rd, 2009
6:46 pm

They need to let the brother Claxton play. Dude is healthy

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
6:50 pm

Good points O’brien. You’re right, there’s no guarantee that a healthy Acie would see any more playing time than the injured Acie, so we might as well just talk about something else right … nah, I plan on beating that horse (it’s a figure of speech PETA folks, just yapping) into an early grave – which, if things don’t change dramatically, could come before the end of the playoffs. Remember, rookie deals are no longer the five and six year affairs (because of changes to the last collective bargaining agreement) that they used to be. A guy has about three years now to establish himself or he’s trade bait. Simple as that. And Acie hasn’t (for obvious reasons, injuries and inconsistent playing time) established himself yet on this team.

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
6:53 pm

And if Acie’s injury was some kind of hoax by either side I’d let you know. But dude was walking like a 90-year old man as recently as two weeks ago. He was hunched over and walking slowly through the hallway outside the locker room one day and I asked him what the deal was with his back. It’s not a fake thing by any stretch.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
7:03 pm

Maybe we need to get doc to stick some needles in him! ;-)

The Truth

April 3rd, 2009
7:06 pm

Sekou

Then I am convinced; If Acie’s injury is not a hoax, then it must be from that fine voodoo woman from New Orleans he was chasing :)

Blast

April 3rd, 2009
7:07 pm

I’m very worried about this game. Sekou said a lot of nice things about the Hawks wanting a chance to prove they can beat Boston this year, but it’s easier said than done. The Celts have beaten Hawks the last four times, and Hawks would have to play above, beyond themselves, beyond the Celtics, the crowd and the refs to even have a shot of winning tonight. They would have to play perfect basketball. They don’t rebound, they turn the ball over, they foul a lot, they miss free throws, they start from behind, Joe and Bibby don’t play great, shots don’t fall, and they can forget about winning this game. My heart hopes they win, but my mind says they won’t.

Wouldn’t mind seeing the last of Boston this season anyway. After the game tonight and with Orlando, Hawks can win most of the games left in the season, since they won’t be meeting the best teams anymore.

Acie Law. Not sure what’s wrong the that dude, but Truth might have called it. Maybe he’s just jinxed, or getting back at Woody. I wish him well.

Where is Big AL Horford the Boss Man? Has anyone seen him lately?

Last few games, Bibby’s shots have been rimming in and out.

Hawks be at least competitve, even if you lose, though we are sick of seeing you guys lose on the road, and lose to the good teams. If y’all suck it up tonight, well, Cleveland/Orlando looks like a good one!

Go Hawks!

Hawks73

April 3rd, 2009
7:09 pm

Some awesome points in regards to Woddy,and Acie’s strange back injury. The fact remains (as stated several times above) coach dic!head wouldn’t play Acie anyway. He is by all accounts the most stubborn SOB that I have ever seen coach a team. He is constantly fueding with Josh Smith and immediately pulls Acie when he does ANYTHING wrong (Not to mention keeping Solo, West, Randolph in Wax). Why in the he!! did Sund go out and get Randolph & Hunter if dic!head isn’t going to let them play. It truly amazes me how Woody can constantly put personal fueds ahead of the team and winning. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, dic!head will be using his same old excuses for the Hawks losing tonight & in the 1st round of the playoffs…it will go something like this, “We fought hard, but ultimately the lack of having guys like Marvin and Acie caught up to us”…mark my, I mean dic!heads words.

Samuel

April 3rd, 2009
7:27 pm

Just glad it aint JJ. We’d already know the reason, right guys. So much for that theory.

Woody=COY

ant banks

April 3rd, 2009
7:47 pm

i don’t have cable. is there anyway to watch the game on the net?

ant banks

April 3rd, 2009
7:48 pm

Enter your comments here

Blast

April 3rd, 2009
8:04 pm

Celts lacking big men in this game. Hawks have a shot at taking it.

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
8:06 pm

Solomon, Mario and ZaZa in the game at the same time… Oh my, did somebody kidnap Woodson…

niremetal

April 3rd, 2009
8:13 pm

Hilarious. League Pass has the Celtics feed and their guys are complaining that the officiating are letting the Hawks get away with fouls.

Man. What a joke.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
8:25 pm

Al is back tonight if Joe will just share.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
8:31 pm

ISO Joe strikes again. At least he won the jump ball.

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
8:32 pm

niremetal, I would advise against watching the Celtics’ feed with the sound up. Because they haven’t seen the Celtics foul anyone in about 14 years.

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
8:36 pm

Big Baby is still playing like it’s last Friday night. Since when do the Hawks no one that can guard Big Baby? This is shameful.

niremetal

April 3rd, 2009
8:38 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA! This was the Celtics announcer, talking about Paul Pierce:
“He’s not a complainer.”

Yeah. Ok. Wow…

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
8:38 pm

Big Baby is having a field day….

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
8:47 pm

So if Acie would fake an injury so that he can show the rest of the league that he’d rather hurt the team than do what other professionals do and compete for playing time, well, never mind. Much too stupid of a theory to discuss further. It’s mostly an incredible insult to Acie… and I’ll end it at that.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
8:48 pm

Horford looks a LOT better. 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, and a block. Nice half.

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
8:50 pm

Hawks are competing well tonight. Only 2 turnovers on the road is a great way to play. Now let’s see if we can make some shots while still protecting the ball.

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
8:55 pm

I’m going to take a page out of Acie’s book… the guy who is allegedly faking an injury in protest to his coach. I’ve decided not to pay my taxes in protest to all of the money going to fund the space program. That will show them how bad I am.

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
8:58 pm

If we can control Big Baby in the paint, then the Hawks have a good chance to win this game…

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
9:03 pm

Bibby’s finally playing well against a quality team.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
9:06 pm

Jeez….’Nique comments on the first half…

“We picked up the defensive intensity in the second quarter”. Yeah, Nique that’s when they scored 30! after only 21 in the first quarter. D’oh!

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
9:06 pm

The Hawks doesn’t even look like a team right now. They look like 5 guys on the court just happen to be wearing the same uniform…

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
9:14 pm

Better, Melvin?

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
9:20 pm

Perkins may be the biggest whinner since Laimbeer.

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
9:28 pm

I like the way the Hawks are playing. They may lose but they are competing and playing hard. Attacking the rim and not settling in this 3rd quarter. They’re attacking the Celtics’ bigs.

Get mad, Flip. Let’s see how you play when you’re mad. (Stupid foul).

Sekou K. Smith

April 3rd, 2009
9:28 pm

For every bucket Bibby gets he’s giving one up to Rondo. The Hawks have to find a way to slow Rondo down or it’s going to be another loss on this floor for the boys in blue.

Blast

April 3rd, 2009
9:29 pm

Aw! Come on Flip! Those 3 free throws hurt!

niremetal

April 3rd, 2009
9:29 pm

Dumb play by Murray, but still a bad call by the ref. Rondo creates the contact more than Murray did.

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
9:31 pm

Not better Joe. 1st half it was Big Baby. 3rd qtr it was Rondo. Watch them go to Paul in the 4th to put the nail in the coffin…

We better find some heart between quarters…

dmortone

April 3rd, 2009
9:32 pm

I’m tired of other team’s point guards consistantly going nuts on us

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
9:35 pm

How many dunks/lay ups has ZaZa miss tonight….

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
9:39 pm

I agree Sekou. At first glance, it looks like a big game from Mike Bibby. So far, Bibby has 20 points, 6 assists. But Rondo has 20 points, 4 assists.

Defense needs to pick up. And we need to stop shooting so many jump shots

trint

April 3rd, 2009
9:39 pm

So any of you still confident these hawks can advance to the second round by winning at least one road game. Because they are sure to lose at least one at home

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
9:42 pm

This team has no heart… We need some toughness…

trint

April 3rd, 2009
9:44 pm

Well loss tonite, win tomorrow because they are in atlanta. The dumbest excuse I’ve heard for a team in all my time watching sports