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 and Hornets at the start of this season, and the control the Heat feel they have right now will disintegrate before the sun comes up Sunday morning.
I’ve heard nothing of from Hawks captain Joe Johnson or anyone else about a no-nightlife policy in Miami similar to the one the Wade and Udonis Haslem enacted for their teammates while in our fair city for Games 1 and 2 (granted, no one is certain the Heat lived up to that edict. But it sounded like the right thing to do at the time).
But if the Hawks need any reminders of how truly important this business trip is to their postseason fortunes … surely they don’t.
ENOUGH ABOUT BASKETBALL, for a minute at least. And we are allowed to discuss other things, briefly, when they make us laugh or are ridiculous enough that we just can’t ignore them.
This item qualifies in both categories.
As if things couldn’t get any more ridiculous after the Spirit the Hawk fiasco from Game 2, that blasted bird is back in the news again.
In the pantheon of sports mascot disasters, Spirit’s unauthorized in-game flight and the resulting public relations nightmare (seriously, Spirit rivaled the Miss California-Perez Hilton flap for the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on the air the past few days) could only have happened here.
Honestly, can you see this stuff happening anywhere else but Philips Arena?
It’s as tragic as it is comical.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT of tragic.
Has anyone seen the Hawks’ bench lately?
Flip Murray scored 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting in Game 2 and the Hawks’ reserves were still outscored 37-20 in that loss.
Both teams went four players deep into the bench in Game 2, but with far different results. Murray and his bench mates shot a combined 6-for-20 from the floor and managed just six rebounds between them. The Heat bench, led by Daequan Cook, shot a nasty 14-for-26 from the floor, including an insane 8-for-11 from beyond the 3-point line, and also grabbed 19 rebounds.
While studying the anatomy of the Hawks’ defeat, make sure to include the disparity in bench production up high on the talking points list.
In today’s edition of the SOUTH FLORIDA REPORT we have several items worthy of your time.
According to my man Mike Wallace of the Miami Herald the Heat is stealing a page from the Hawks’ playoff book and trying to stay humble after a big win in the series. We’ll see if they have better luck with that than the Hawks.
Wade apparently has more going on that just basketball, per the Herald. Of all the times to bring this stuff up … is there ever a good time for this stuff? Probably not.
My guy Ira Winderman from the Sun-Sentinel had some interesting statistical minutiae on his blog. In fact, he made several points that make even more sense a couple days after the game than they might have immediately after the game.
Former AJC staff writer Carlos Frias of the Palm Beach Post snapped me back from the silliness with this sobering story about Udonis Haslem and the tough time he and his family have endured and continue to deal with during this series.
THE LAST WORD today goes to blog regular niremetal, via Big Ray, who keeps the party jumping along with HB Ando on the Hawks Hack blog. When it comes to keen observations, no one does it better than you all (and I know it’s time to move on to Game 3 but for a rehash of Game 2, this is it):
Since they were easy to miss, here’s a compilation of my 4 comments about tonight’s game -
1) Where’s Mario?
2) Man. JJ bricks two free throws and Josh throws the ball into the seats on a breakaway. Clearly, clearly, clearly the focus wasn’t there tonight.
3) That being said, if the Heat can only win if they shoot 58% from deep and have JJ on the bench with foul trouble for the entire third quarter (and he had NO rhythm when he came back from that), then the Hawks definitely can bounce back.
4) And finally…Marvin goes on a tear in the 3rd and Woodson decides to bench him for the rest of the game? WTF??
To respond to your bit about JJ…this was the ultimate in Woody asking him to do too much and him breaking down. He actually guarded Wade pretty [dang] well in the first half. Most of Wade’s points when JJ was in the game came when either Flip or Mo was covering him; most of the rest came when Bibby switched onto him off a screen. But JJ eventually got into foul trouble. And Woody is so [darn] terrified of leaving a player with foul trouble in the game that he benched JJ for almost the entire third quarter. What the [HECK] is that about? Like most shooters, JJ needs a rhythm to be at his best. Benching him for a good 25 minutes of real time (even though it was just 9 minutes of game time) just iced him for the rest of the game. And then when JJ finally came back, it looked like Woody put him on Wade again while Flip guarded Cook (?!?).
He never tried putting Mario in to hassle Wade, even after it was clear that Mo and Flip were getting shredded and JJ was toiling and getting into foul trouble from having to chase Wade around screens.
And he benched Zaza right after he made a tough shot on one end and drew a charge on the other.
And here’s the worst one. The one that makes the absolute least amount of sense. He benched Marvin after Marvin scored 7 points in the quarter on 3-4 shooting and didn’t allow his man to score a single point for the entire quarter. Jones scored less than 1 minute after Marvin went to the bench, after Jones/Cook/Beasley had been held scoreless for the entire third period while Marvin was in. And Marvin was never seen for the rest of the game.
It makes no sense. None. NONE.
Pardon my French, but we are royally [screwed] if he can’t show the ability to make in-game adjustments, because the Heat WILL go on at least 1-2 runs every single game.