Archive for May, 2009

Wanted: Role Players!

Frontcourt help like Charlie Villanueva could make a huge difference for the Hawks in the future.

Frontcourt help like Charlie Villanueva could make a huge difference for the Hawks in the future.

HAWKSVILLE – I know that the NBA hype machine would have you believe that the NBA playoffs is basically a test of wills between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

If you let the networks tell it, we’re all just bearing witness to the crowning of the king or the validation of KB24’s reign as the heir to his Airness.

Count Magic superstar center and Atlanta native Dwight Howard among those who have heard just about enough. And the AJC’s own Jeff Schultz isn’t far behind Howard in the enough is enough line.

The only problem with all the Kobe/LeBron fuss is that arguably the two most critical guys on the floor thus far in these outstanding Eastern and Western Conference finals have been Lakers’ swingman Trevor Ariza and Orlando Magic super sub Mickael Pietrus.

As well Bryant, James, Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Pau Gasol, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and all the other …

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All the right moves

The Hawks will have Mike Woodson back for the start of another season in the fall.

The Hawks will have Mike Woodson back to start another season in the fall.

HAWKSVILLE - Hawks coach Mike Woodson is not going anywhere.

Hawks general manager Rick Sund made that clear on at least three different occasions Tuesday, on two different sports talk radio shows in the morning and later to me in his office.

Not that it was an issue or anything (laugh track goes here).

Woodson has one year remaining on his contract and Sund, while not confirming or denying any details pertaining to said contract, insisted that the Hawks would indeed “honor Woodson’s contract.”

(Last summer there was a legitimate question about Woodson’s future since his contract had expired. But when a coach signs a two-year deal, wins 47 games, a top four seed, and guides his team to the Eastern Conference semifinals in the first, questions about his job security, no matter what any of us here think of his performance, don’t register with the folks in charge of hiring and firing).  

Read into that …

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No need for snap decisions

The only thing that rages more than Josh Smith's emotions is his over-the-top talent . The Hawks would be wise to find ways to help channel that emotion in a positive direction.

 HAWKSVILLE - Raise your hand if you thought we’d all end up here.

Go ahead, raise it up high. Let the rest of us see you. I need to make sure we count the hands.

Good. Now that the roll call is over, it’s time to get down the serious business that will be retooling this Hawks roster for next season. In case you missed it, nearly half the roster is going to be diving into the free agent waters this summer.

That means there’s a chance that the Hawks team you saw on the floor in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Cleveland will be no more as of July 1, the date the free agent negotiating season kicks off. That also means that the ball switches from Mike Woodson, Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith’s court to that of Hawks general manager Rick Sund.

And judging by his 30-plus year resume in the …

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Do they have anything left?

Do Joe, Josh and the Hawks have anything left? We're going to find out tonight at Philips Arena.

Do Joe, Josh and the Hawks have anything left? We're going to find out in a few hours.

HAWKSVILLE - The clock is ticking on this once miraculous season for the Hawks.

How much time remains is hard to tell, could be a couple games or a couple days.

No one knows for sure.

But one question about these Hawks remains.

Do they have anything left?

Fresh off two straight blowout loss in Cleveland, it’s all come down to this one showing, tonight’s Game 3 against Cleveland at Philips Arena.

If the Hawks can dig down and find something that works long enough to hold off the Cavaliers, maybe, just perhaps maybe, they can stretch this series out a few days longer.

We all know there have been far too many injuries to contend with for the Hawks to actually dream about springing an upset.

But there is still time to save a little face and make the NBA, the city of Cleveland and even the Cavaliers sweat a little bit.

Win tonight and waking up Sunday morning in a 2-1 hole gives people hope. Go …

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Stand up Hawks!

It's time for the Hawks to stand up and to stand together.

It's time for the Hawks to stand up, stand together and show the world that they belong.

 

WITNESSVILLE - Now is not the time Hawks.

And the postseason is certainly not the appropriate place to come apart at the seams.

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need the assist.

So to hear the Hawks talk of not “sharing the ball” and needing to “attack from all over” screams of a team in need of reconstitution (and if you don’t like what you hear coming from the Hawks’ locker room since their Game 1 loss to King James and his crew that’s a good thing, because you shouldn’t).

It’s not something that can be done by a coach or general manager intervening. It’s also not something that can be fixed with one of those trendy players’ only team meetings or any of the other conventional tools used by most NBA teams.

This is a calculated regeneration of a team that can only come from individual catharsis, and the Hawks need it to happen 15 times in 15 different rooms at the tony Ritz-Carlton …

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The NBA playoffs, King James version!

Welcome to LeBron's world Hawks!

Welcome to LeBron's world Hawks!

 

HAWKSVILLE - If the Hawks felt like there was some cosmic [Dwyane Wade-fueled] wave of energy trying to keep them from reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals, wait until they get on the floor Tuesday night in Cleveland.

That’s where they’ll get their first taste of the NBA playoffs, King James version.

In short, if they thought Wade was an issue – the so-called one-man team that they couldn’t get past in anything but seven games – wait until they face LeBron James and his crew.

Not only have the Cavaliers rolled to the best record in the league, boast the NBA Coach of the Year in Mike Brown and the league’s probably MVP in James, they’ve also had nine days to rest and load up for the Hawks on their way to what all of the basketball-loving world assumes is a table for two in the NBA Finals with Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.

I can’t think of a better time to be the Hawks.

No one thinks you have a chance. No one is expecting you to …

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Anyone interested in winning this thing?

Who wants it more, Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks or Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat? We'll find out Sunday afternoon in Game 7 at Philips Arena.

HAWKSVILLE - So it’s come to this.

Game 7 (Sunday afternoon at Philips Arena) in a series where neither the Hawks nor Heat has shown anything in the way of true desire to snatch this thing up and finish it.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock Friday night in yet another blowout – Game 6 looked like Games 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 – it started to make sense.

These two teams don’t know how to win in the playoffs (duh, news flash huh?). They’re simply not capable. There aren’t enough seasoned NBA playoff veterans on either roster to put the finishing touches on a series of this nature.

Joel Anthony and Solomon Jones. Mario West and Mario Chalmers. No offense to these fine young warriors, but there aren’t more than a handful of truly battle tested performers between these two teams that you could point to and know that you’re going to get …

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Where ridiculous happens!

Dwyane Wade doesn't like to see Mario West dancing!

Dwyane Wade doesn't like to see Mario West dancing! (This fine photo is courtesy of my main man Curtis Compton of the AJC)

 

MIAMI - I know what the NBA’s slogan is supposed to say.

But after two weeks of great basketball in most cases, and relentless dramatics in others, the only thing that seems to be rising from the dust right now is foolishness.

From griping on and off the floor (more on that in a minute) to tough-guy antics (from as far away as the radio perch) in almost every single series to the continued assault on the game by an army of awful game officials, the playoffs seems more like where ridiculous happens?

At a time when the NBA game should be on full display for all to see, everything else is getting in the way.

I dare anyone that’s watched any of the Bulls-Celtics series to tell me they’ve seen more intense playoff basketball anytime recently. That’s what real lovers of this game deserve to see.

But it’s not happening these days.

Good luck focusing on what …

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