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, where he would wreak havoc on a Hawks’ second unit without anyone close to him in size, athleticism and just flat out ability to score and rebound at an exceptional clip.

There’s some healthy debate going on in South Florida about whether or not it’s wise to start Beasley in place of Jamario Moon (another elite athletic talent that could cause matchup issues if brought off the bench). And as an observer of this series, I’m siding with the start-Beasley camp. I want to see the kid out there from the start and watch him match up with Williams, Smith or whoever else the Hawks have guarding him. I want to see both teams go at it with their best on the floor.

Beasley serves as the X-factor in this series for me the same way Smith did last year when the Hawks took on Boston in the first round. Smith played through the roof in those three games the Hawks won at Philips, proving my pre-series premonition correct. I have a sneaking suspicion that Beasley will have a similar showing this time around.

NO STOPPING WADE … NONE!

Since there’s no Ron Artest-like defender in this series or any other except the series Houston plays in, I’m going to put an end to this silly notion that someone should even bother trying to STOP Wade (Jack Bauer’s NBA alter ego, according to Bill Simmons). The fact is, it doesn’t happen. Not in the regular season and certainly not now.

The Hawks did about as well as could be expected on Wade in four regular season meetings, holding him to 25.5 points in those games (five below his league-leading average). I think that had a lot to do with the fact that the Hawks are capable of guarding the rim (with Smith and Horford in particular) better than most teams. But this idea that one person can deal with him in this series seems a bit misguided, and I’ve heard it from several people in the last few days.

“There’s not many guys in this league that can stop a person one-on-one,” Bibby said. “You could probably count it on one hand. It’s going to have to be a team effort. It’s about stopping the ball, getting back in transition, rotating and scrambling around to help each other. There’s going to be a lot of scrambling to do on the defensive end because [Wade's] dribble drive game opens up the floor for everybody else. So it has to be done together, five guys guarding five guys.”

TOUGH DAY IN BOSTON

I realize that the love for the Celtics around here is invisible after all that’s gone on the last year, but you have to admit it was a rough day for our friends (or not) in Boston yesterday.

First they get the news that Kevin Garnett is likely done for the rest of this season with a knee injury. And then Celtics GM Danny Ainge suffers a heart attack.

This has the folks at the Boston Globe putting an end to the Celtics’ dreams of a repeat NBA title before we even get started. But of all the teams in the Eastern Conference playoff field, Paul Pierce and Co. are the group I’d try to avoid at all costs if I were another team.

Last year they had all the pressure on them to make it to the NBA Finals. This time around, there’s no pressure at all. While everyone else will tell you why the Celtics won’t make it, I’m here to tell you that there’s no team more dangerous than the defending champs.

That said, no team (outside of the Lakers if Kobe Bryant went down or the Cavaliers if LeBron James went down) could suffer a greater blow  than what the Celtics have in losing Garnett.

Not only is he their best player and emotional leader, he served as the backbone of the stifling defensive team that smothered teams all the way to the Larry O’Brien trophy last year. Without him there to control that defense, I just can’t see any way that the Celtics win a title without owning home court advantage. And they’d have to hit the road against Cleveland and LA if they were to get that far.

NO PARTYING FOR THE HEAT

Sorry Hawks fans, there will be no Buckhead flu (or whatever it’s called these days) for the opposing team in this playoff series.

Wade and Haslem, the Heat captains, have apparently instituted a “no-going-out” rule for the team’s three-night stay here. That means no mysterious energy lapses for select guys. I’ll be curious to see if they find any rule breakers before we finish up the first two legs of this series, because the temptation will be there.

I know for a fact the Celtics didn’t have that rule last year, because my main man Marc Spears and I were leaving bible study the night before Game 6 last year and saw some Celtics coming out of a club across the street one night.

Good luck to the Heat on that one.

HAWKS INJURY UPDATES

Acie Law IV is looking more and more like a no-go for this series, or at least for the first few games. Woodson said Law couldn’t get through Thursday’s practice because of the lower back pain that kept him out of all but one of Hawks’ final 13 games of the regular season. This is a blow but hardly an unexpected one since Law’s contributions have been non-existent for weeks now.

Zaza Pachulia said told me after practice that he’s feeling “great.” He took a nasty lick on his hip and side in the win over Indiana last Friday and sat out the Miami game earlier this week. But he did come back and play in Memphis, mostly to make sure his timing was on for this series. He’ll be an important factor off the bench for the Hawks in this series, especially with Jamaal Magloire playing the same role off the Heat bench.

– Marvin Williams indicated that he’s ready not only to play but ready to assume his starting role after a 16-game layoff late in the season due to his lower back injury. That’s huge news, obviously, because for a long time it appeared that Williams might be done for the season. His long layoff might actually end up being a benefit to the Hawks, as his legs should be fresher than anyone’s during this series.

182 comments Add your comment

Ron E.

April 17th, 2009
11:22 am

It would be more accurate to say Law’s contributions have been non-existent for several years by Woodson’s choice. If he can’t go, does that mean Claxton makes the roster as backup PG?

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
11:23 am

I’m guessing the Heat will start Moon and have him double Joe. I don;t see Beasley being quick enough to find him and most teams would rather leave Marvin than leave Bibby. Wade is obviously an elite defensive player but I don’t think that he will want to try to take on Joe one-on-one… too big of a difference in body types. So I think Moon will play a huge role in Miam’s plans to defend Joe. Plus, Beasley could try to counter-act what Flip will bring in terms of offensive punhc from the bench.

2 more days until we get started. And then another 2 day wait after that. Kind of hard to get too hyped when you talking about 2 games in a space of about 5 days. Must p-a-c-e yourself.

Reality

April 17th, 2009
11:26 am

Sekou Smith, I’m here talking trash to Hawks fans, but I must say you write an excellent, not terribly biased blog. Keep up the good work…

Stinky

April 17th, 2009
11:43 am

The Hawks should win this series in 6 games. I’m not particularly concerned about MIA’s bench or their role players. Allow Wade to score his 30 and make MIA’s rookies & journeymen beat us. ATL is deeper, better & more experienced than MIA so this should go 6 at the most.

Sekou,

How much time will Mario West see in this series? And is Marvin starting or will he be coming off the bench to start this series?

-Ya Smell Me?

Westurd

April 17th, 2009
11:44 am

Got a steal of a deal on tickets……look for me on tv, I’ll be right in Wades face throwing him off his game.

Last year the fans nearly blew the roof off of Phillips. Can’t wait to get back in that atmosphere!

HAWKS in 6.

Get it done!

cowboys67

April 17th, 2009
11:50 am

Its not The Buckhead flu it will always be the curse of Magic City….

SouthAfrican09

April 17th, 2009
12:03 pm

WTF is up with Acie? He was looking great last summer, got in great shape,, was healthy, optimistic…Now he is a ham sandwich in a deli.

Hawks in 5 if Bibby and Joe play well and Josh plays intelligently.

SouthAfrican09

April 17th, 2009
12:05 pm

Anyone else think Magloire is the most unathletic player in the NBA (worse than Morris)?

Jamario Moon looks like Shareef

Ariose

April 17th, 2009
12:09 pm

Sekou, Speedy has looked good in the two games he played. I think he could really be an X-factor in his series’……do you think Woodson will give him any PT?

Dan

April 17th, 2009
12:14 pm

Acie might be making the decision on whether or not to resign Bibby easier on the owners. Acie is just proving to be unreliable. I know injuries happen, but Acie just never seems to be there when we need him. Resigning Bibby will be a must (at least I hope it is).

Anyone else nervous about this series? I am. I am already upset at the refs. You know they will bow down to Wade on any close call.

O'brien

April 17th, 2009
12:16 pm

There are 2 ways the Hawks can go about this series (in my opinion).

1) Let D. Wade get his (even if he averages 30 for the series), and clamp down on his supporting cast
2) Double D.Wade if needed, and force somebody else to step up and make shots.

Because the Hawks have homecourt, I think they win the series (in 6 games).

Reality

April 17th, 2009
12:20 pm

“Allow Wade to score his 30 and make MIA’s rookies & journeymen beat us.”

But it’s going to be more like 40, and that’s why the Hawks are in big trouble.

And too many people are sleeping Michael Beasley. He will become a star this series.

Mark Bradley

April 17th, 2009
12:29 pm

“Leaving Bible study” — I laughed out loud, Mr. Sekou.

stevethehawk

April 17th, 2009
1:01 pm

Marvin should come off the bench, and start Mo. Why isnt anyone syaing this?!?!?
It makes too much sense

KingCobra

April 17th, 2009
1:02 pm

The Hawks should get past the Heat. I would double team D-Wade and not let him beat you. Make the other 4 guys beat you but keep the clamps locked down on Wade. That formula should allow you to advance, but to secure the conference title will be difficult indeed with Orlando, Cleveland and Boston all in the same conference. It will be quite a trick for the Hawks to outlast those teams and and get represent the conference in the NBA finals, but I think they (the Hawks) can get it done. Their collective group of parts is as good as any team in the league. The Hawks have proven that over the last two years. All I ask for the Hawks is to give the fans an honest effort for 48 minutes of basketball each night. Thats all I ask. It will serve two purposes. First, the fans will be satisfied because they will have watched inspired basketball for complete games (remember the Boston series last year); and secondly (the Hawks should advance through ALL rounds and be the Eastern Conferences represenative in the finals if the Hawks give their best effort for 48 minutes. Thats how much confidence I have in the Hawks. When the Hawks played that way against the LA Lakers last time they faced them, the Hawks clearly outplayed the team with second best record in the association and easily pummelled the Lakers. The Hawks have suddenly become one of the elite teams and monsters of the NBA, but it only happens when they throw everything they have at their opposition including the kitchen sink. When the Hawks do that, no one team or player can stop them. Atlantas Air Force will fly high throughout the playoffs at the Highlight Factory. Go Hawks.

SouthAfrican09

April 17th, 2009
1:20 pm

Why has game 1 not sold out yet?

Ariose

April 17th, 2009
1:33 pm

stevehawk, because if Beasley sterts, then Marvin starts.

Barry

April 17th, 2009
1:45 pm

Hey Y’all;

Quit talking about how exceptional the Heats players are. The Hawks have a buch of exceptional players the Heat have to watch out for and they are Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Flip Murray, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Mo Evans, and Marvin Williams. These guys are going to cause havoc and concern for these Heats with their athletism and their talen, especially on defense. I challange any team to match up with our Hawks. These Hawks are no joke. I guarantte you they take it to another level during these playoffs. Therefore, we should not be too concerned about other teams except play our game. Hoewever, the other teams have better worry about these hungry Hawks in these playoffs. The are a very, very, dangerous team. They are ready for the battle. The hands are wrapped and they are ready to put the gloves on for this playoff for the HAWKS to “SHOCK THE WORLD!!!!” They are standing toe to toe with the basketball elite and are afraid of no one. This is for real, baby. These Hawks are ready to take the Heat down quick. There fore, have the referee with a water bottle to spray water on the Heat when we “KNOCK THEM OUT!!!”

NOW, ARE YOU READY TO RRRRUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMBBBBLLLLEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LET’s GO HAWKS!!! SEE Y’ALL AT PHILLIPS!!!

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a HAWK FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…………………….”ATLANTA HAWKS, BOOM-BYE-YEAH!!!!”………..

…………………………..”SHOCK THE WORLD!!!!!!”…………..

GO HAWKKS

otrhawksfan

April 17th, 2009
1:51 pm

when you have the upper hand on in the games they win or lose. A steady diet of acie would have been nice. I hope he returns soon and healthy.. I see the hawks putting the ice on the heat in 5!!! I sense a amazing atmosphere full of eye candy and grills gallore.

Lets Go Hawks!!!!

Blast

April 17th, 2009
2:01 pm

I’m waiting to see if ANY Heat player can avoid the ATL nightlife for five days. Five days in HotAtlanta, and you stay stuck in a motel room? With those fine chicks in Magic City, the bad nightclubs, NBA groupie girls flocking around games and their hotel? Give those guys a medal in perseverance if none of them goes out anytime during those four games.

Then again, they don’t really have to worry about the nightlife. They only have to worry about a core of players trying to prove they belong. Those players are JJ, Mike Bibby, AL the Boss Horford, Josh Smoove, Marvin, and Flip the Switch the Assasin Murray. That’s all Heat players have to worry about, not skimpy clad beauties in nightclubs or fine, naked chicks in birthday suits jiggling all that God gave them in strip clubs.

Without Garnett, Celtics will not repeat. I will eat my belt if they win the championship this year. Though Big Baby has been putting up almost Garnett like numbers, he ain’t Garnett.

asdf2

April 17th, 2009
2:09 pm

Remember what happened to the Falcons in Arizona? Let’s not get too over confident that we will win this series but go Hawks!

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

if u gonna give WADE his and BEASLEY take his which will be 20-10 thats at least 50-60pts it will take at least 3 hawks to match it man BEASLEY showed tuesday no can guard him and that he can rebound with any of ur post players only thing missing from series being lopsided is ZO. HEAT in 6 or less bet that

doc

April 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

sekou, care to tell me where midnight mass is so i can lay down some alms in the basin?

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
2:28 pm

Sekou u speak the truth and i hope these hawk fans dont turn on u for that this series is gonna be much tougher than they seem to think but seem like they dont hear ur warnings but like they say a hard head make a soft behind… ps dont sleep on j oneal might not rebound the same but jumper still works and play good d

bali

April 17th, 2009
2:29 pm

sure wish AC would get well soon. I think he could really help out in the playoffs. Hope he does not get the Rep of always being hurt. The thought of speedy claxton being the backup point guard is really scarey.hope Flip is ready to play large minutes. Shoot, that sucks too.

Reality

April 17th, 2009
2:31 pm

If you guys think the Heat will be tempted by the Atlanta nightlife (way overrated on this board) then HOW DA F\_/CK ARE THE HAWKS GOING TO HANDLE SOUTH BEACH!?!

Get out of here with that crap. I don’t think either team will be tempted or affected. A week of not going out is a very small sacrifice to make.

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
2:33 pm

blast ur not play bucks who has more stuff to get in to than miami u trippin with that,that sh*t aint important hangin out we got nite-up the u know what so i can see us jus chillin but can hawks stay in when they come to SOUTH BEACH thats the question

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
2:35 pm

reality great mind think alike

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
2:39 pm

Sounds like Sekou was trying to reach out to the wicked and the sinful. Can’t stay in the safety of the pulpit if you want to cast out demons.

More than night life, I’m concerned about the Hawks eating those Cuban pork sammiches. I recall that Josh lost a fight with a burger in Boston during the playoffs last year. Stay away from those pork sammiches. Stay away from the pork sammiches. Hey you in the Hawks uniform, STAY AWAY FROM THE PORK SAMMICHES.

Sekou Smith

April 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

Magic City cowboys67? Never heard of it. :)

And I spoke with Acie again this afternoon and he said he’s not going to play Sunday. That leaves the Hawks PG situation in limbo. They do have Flip Murray, though. And that’s an explosive insurance policy. Still, the Hawks have issues there that need to be cleaned up.

Reality

April 17th, 2009
2:41 pm

They sure do. As our handles suggest, we are just using our common sense.

Common sense says South Beach has always been NOTORIOUS for affecting visiting teams. Not Atlanta.

Common sense says that Wade will dominate in the playoffs, and not let his team lose to the Atlanta Hawks.

SouthAfrican09

April 17th, 2009
2:43 pm

Sekou, no mention of Speedy in your 2:40 PM post?

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
2:54 pm

Reality, how many playoff games has Wade won since 2006? I think it is less than the number of games Speedy played during the ‘08-09 season.

SilentAssasin

April 17th, 2009
2:55 pm

The Hawks wont have to worry about Boston this year because Boston wont repeat as long as Garnett is out. That leaves just Cleveland and Orlando to be concerned about. The Hawks have beaten Cleveland once this year and should have split the season series with them had it not been for a phantom call on LaBron James or a non-call. That series would have been tied 2-2. As far as the Orlando Magic are concerned, the Orlando Magic are good, but they are no match for the Hawks when the Hawks are playing solid basketball (Hawks crushed Orlando in the season opener). So there you have it. I have predicted, in a sort of roundabout way, that the Hawks have the best talent in the league and will win the conference and therefore the NBA title because there is no one out there that can touch the Hawks, when the Hawks are playing what I call “Hawks Basketball”. By this I mean that the Hawks are playing championship defense, keeping their turnovers down to a minimum (almost none), outrebouding their opponents, hitting their shots (48+% shooting), taking good shots (great shot selection), running their opponents out of the arena (getting plenty of assists) AND hitting their 3-point shots (high percentage, Hawks led the league in 3 pointers made when they started out the season 6-0). If the Hawks can do all of these things I see no reason why they cant win the NBA title this year. Good luck!

Dom

April 17th, 2009
2:59 pm

I dont know about miamis journeymen—-Jemain Oneil is now healthy and only 31. When he is healthy, he is an allstar . Michael beasley is not some 2nd round rookie your hoping can come alive, he is the real deal who was brought along slow this yr. Leave beasley alone while doubling wade, and he can go off ., Its going 7 games, Dwade will not have a problem guarding johnson, AND, had this Miami team been together since the beginning of the year(Jermain Oneil and “new”micheal beasley”" miami is a 55 win team. good luck

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
3:01 pm

the worse thing t’hat could’ve happen for HAWKS is for WADE to finally look at BEASLEY like yea it on, b/c if not mistaken look like WADE told j ONEAL damn that muthaf***er got a jumper could be wrong but… wade is the killer the HAWKS need to win title,they currently dont have one, name team who won title without BONAFIDE superstar,or household name

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
3:09 pm

espn give king james all the billing only player in sports to not win title to get press everyday u watch that garbage for years marino was best qb in nfl but cuz he neva win title u always say montana why they so set on the next JORDAN it will neva be another JORDAN they say wade not magnetic personality thats garbage every arena wade go to u see his #3 jus as much or more than other teams best player ESpn is full sh*t i believe they got money on cavs

Volman

April 17th, 2009
3:10 pm

Dom….55 wins? Puhhlease.

Can I have some of that kool-aid you’re drinking? Must be reeeaaaal good on a Friday afternoon. You must be starting early. Oh well, “it’s five oclock somewhere”.

Hawks in 6. Enough about Michael Beasley. I want to see how the Heat are going to guard Joe Johnson, and how they will stop AL HORFORD in the post…or even, JOSH SMITH in the post…or Bibby from outside.

Does the Heat even have a bench? Their bench CANNOT stay with Mo, Flip, Solo, and Zaza. Heck, throw Speedy in there to guard Chalmers or that little run Quinn. It doesn’t matter to me.

Get the job done, Hawks. You know you’re capable. If Woodrow were smart, he’d play Speedy in the playoffs. Speedy has something to play for (his career) and he could play some solid D. PLEASE Woodrow!

Volman

April 17th, 2009
3:12 pm

“Keepin’ it Real”, aka “Reality”…..English, please.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
3:13 pm

Dom, and had Smith, Marvin and Horford not missed around 40 games combined…

Keepin it real, we just need to beat the Heat for now to get you off our blog. We’ll worry about world domination later.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
3:15 pm

The Return of Volman. Oh-oh Heat fans. You’re bringin out the big dawgs now!. What up Vol? Where have you been hiding for the past few months? Have you heard… Hawks had a VERY nice season.

Volman

April 17th, 2009
3:21 pm

Haha, It is official.. I have returned.

Life has been pretty rude to me lately. I just lost my mom (52 years young) in late January, so I’ve been dealing with that. (Okay, enough of the sadness talk here!)

Just re-upped my season tickets, and hopefully I can spend a little extra when I’m done with school to hang out with you big dogs down in the “good seats”! :)

I’ve been following the blogs for the most part but just haven’t done my fair share this season with blogging, and that’s on me. Maybe it’s the new online system they have on here or something. Who knows?

Like I said, I am here to defend my team. I will be there Sunday, and the next game, and the next, and the next cheering “deeeeefense!” in the first quarter on the first possession. This team deserves that. They deserve the support. Lord knows that they feed off of it. It’s called homecourt advantage for a reason. I just hope the Hawks “fans” can figure that out and make this series somewhat like the Boston one (except for us winning, of course)

Hope all of you regulars on here are well. I miss blogging on here, but I promise that I will be in full force since playoffs are around.

We always have the offseason, too…right? :)

God bless. Hug your family. Life is precious.

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
3:27 pm

hawks got nice group of players but all are passive not one of them got killer instincts, bibby use to be,y u think kobe chill this year he need to see if team would step cuz he is the best player game has to offer hands down. go thru history hell last few years,y u think teams afraid of healthy spurs team b/c they got 3killers…celtics 3 killer lakers 1 celtics win,spurs 3 cavs 1 spurs win, heat 1 mavs none heat win and so on and so on!!! all it takes is 1 and HAWKS have none

GuntherWilson

April 17th, 2009
3:28 pm

I agree that LaBron James is getting more hype than he is worth. Sure, he is a great player, no doubt about that; but this year he is only the third best player in the game behind Kobe Bryant #1 and D-Wade #2. LaBron is #3 and I hope that LaBron doesnt win an MVP because he doesnt deserve one when his team hasnt won the title yet. Sure hes good but not as good as Kobe or D-Wade this season. LaBron will win MVPs, titles, trophys, etc. but please dont win anything this year until you have earned it.

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
3:29 pm

a man sorry bout mom

Al

April 17th, 2009
3:31 pm

Sekou, as a Heat fan visiting your blog, I have to agree with Reality. You write an excellent column here. Not biased at all, showing a true love of the game, and even providing links to other local newspaper stories. Nice.

Volman

April 17th, 2009
3:32 pm

Keepin’ it real, I appreciate it.. I am assuming you’re a Heat fan.

I would love your prospective on things. The Heat cannot play their starting five for 48 minutes a game. Who will be coming off the bench for the Heat? Do they have ANYBODY that can adequately contribute off of their bench? Aren’t you afraid that the Heat have a very young team and aren’t very playoff-savy outside of Wade and Haslem?

Yes, Dwyane Wade has a “killer instinct” but I do not know if you remember last year’s game in Miami where that “killer instinct” was REJECTED by Atlanta’s own, Josh Smith, to win the game….

AND THE GAME WAS ON THE LINE.

Just reminding you.

keepin it real

April 17th, 2009
3:38 pm

reg season much different than playoff and by listen to fan as long as u won reg season matchup they think they will win not the case can hawks play a slower pace gm and be successful no tru great shooter, on my bench i got beasley d. cook james jones j. magloire,chris quinn capable of doing descent job but doubt he plays much,and diawara

Volman

April 17th, 2009
3:38 pm

Pardon me, perspective. My apologies.

Astro Joe

April 17th, 2009
3:40 pm

Volman, you have my sympathy. Much, much too young. Stay strong and keep your voice strong at the arena.

It’s the HIGHLIGHT FACTORY, BABY!