On to December

Hey, folks-

Sorry for the delay. No good excuse, just a lot going on.

Anyway, some thoughts about the game tonight. Again, like Detroit, it’s a game the Hawks should win, only more so, given that they’re at home. Toronto has lost four in a row and five of the last six. Plus, I get the sense that the team has reached a similar level of frustration that it had after Charlotte, which was the catalyst for the seven-game winning streak. Not saying they’ll reel off seven in a row again, given that they play Dallas on the road in three games, but I think they’re in a better frame of mind than last week. But, what do I know.

It’ll be interesting to see how Joe Johnson fares. As I wrote earlier this week, he is in a pretty decent slump. Mike Woodson conceded that some of the misses have been forced, but is going to keep riding him. Said Woodson, “when he’s making those forced shots, nobody’s saying a [darn] thing.”

Obviously, the matchup to watch is Al Horford and Chris Bosh. As you well remember, Dwight Howard took it to Horford (and the entire team) pretty good on Thanksgiving, and perhaps well he should have. This isn’t quite the same matchup, as Bosh plays away from the paint and doesn’t quite have Howard’s size, but it’ll be a good test for Horford.

What worries the Hawks against Toronto is the Raptors’ pace of play, which Woodson compared to Phoenix and New York. If the Raptors can get in a flow and start nailing 3-pointers, it could be a long night. They made 11 of 17 in a 131-124 road loss to San Antonio and 9 of 15 in a 120-113 win over Miami.

In the locker room the last few days, there’s been a lot of talk about being happy where they are (12-5) and how they want to move on to a good December. It strikes me as kind of a convenient way to dismiss what has happened the past four games, but I do think the reality is this team is going to play well in spurts and struggle in others. Just like it was unreasonable to expect that they were going to play the way they were in winning seven in a row, I think it’s also unlikely that the way they’re playing now will keep going.

I think perhaps what the team will need to get to the 50-win plateau is just to minimize the slumps, not letting three-losses-out-of-four get to seven-out-of-nine.

Think about this. If they win two out of three the rest of the way, they’ll finish with 59 wins, which would put them in the mix, I’d think, for the division title. Given the way they play at home, I don’t think this is out of the question. That’s 16-16 on the road and 24-9 at Philips in the final 65 games of the year.

I have no idea how much Jeff Teague will play tonight. It seems like one factor for Woodson in dispensing time for subs, perhaps the key one, is matchups. You’d think Jarrett Jack would be an applicable one for Teague. He’s gotten a lot of work with the first unit in practice since Mike Bibby went down with his ankle against New Orleans two Saturdays ago. I’m not sure how much we’ll see of him with that unit yet. I didn’t get the sense that the starters were completely comfortable with Teague yet in that group. Perhaps tonight is the night.

One thing I’ll throw out that I thought was interesting was a point that Johnson made about how the Hawks have so many interchangeable parts that it’s not easy for Teague to get in. Yes, you could certainly say he’s the backup point guard, but in a way, so is Jamal Crawford, who isn’t normally someone you want to take away minutes from. Just a thought. I’m with most of you in that I’d love to see him play more in that he’s a lot of fun to watch.

One link: Ball Don’t Lie named Josh Smith its most improved player of the season thus far. I think the national love for the Hawks may cool for awhile.

220 comments Add your comment

O'Brien

December 2nd, 2009
4:52 pm

First?

Thanks for the blog Ken.

Sometime ago, there was a discussion about whether or not Teague should get more minutes, and whether or not you would sacrifice minutes for wins.

Well, Teague has played 14 minutes TOTAL the last 4 games. And the Hawks record is 1-3.

ILL-logical

December 2nd, 2009
5:03 pm

Said Woodson, “when he’s making those forced shots, nobody’s saying a [darn] thing.”

Yeah but he ain’t making them but is still taking them. Look as if Woodson is going to continue to rely on Joe no matter what in the belief that the only way to win is with Joe being the leading scorer. Hmmm(?)
On a related note. Is the lack of resources to get top flight talent a problem? The comparison of NBA payrolls suggests that while the Hawks are certainly effecient in the economic senseanother way of looking at the numbers could be to conclude that the team doesn’t have the financial wherewithall to not only pay a market premium for joe but doesn’t have enough funds to pay for any other elite players. Just a thought.

hawkfan

December 2nd, 2009
5:25 pm

ILL-logical,

The Hawks did offer Joe a decent contract ($M40-50, I forget the actual figure). He declined. Perhaps the Hawks believe, and rightfully so, that he is not a truly elite player, but simply the best player on the current staff. Now, if the Hawks do not have enough funds to pay a “market premium” and acquire an elite super-star that’s another issue.

superbasketballfan

December 2nd, 2009
5:26 pm

joe johnson is a ball hog, he wants all the glory for himself. jamal crawford is just as good as joe or better, but jamal is trying to be nice and friendly to all the players. I say let joe go and you have jamal for another year jamal will pass the ball more, woodson needs to play that center that they are paying 1 million + a year. He has experienc in the finals with new jersey nets for 2yrs and move harford
to powerforward spot.What will it take for woodson to see this???????

go hawks

December 2nd, 2009
5:37 pm

Joe won’t return for the 2010-2011 season. Jamaal Crawford is a better team player. Do you notice that we dominate when we get Josh Smith involved in the game? How do we get him involved? Get him more touches early. As for Joe when he dribbles (in the past we refered to it as sitting on the ball)too long which is almost every time he touches the ball have you noticed that the other players stop moving. They become almost zombie like. Also we need a center and Marvin should realistically come off the bench.

Raptors Fans

December 2nd, 2009
5:44 pm

You guys call up your scorekeeper for tonight’s game? Let’s see Horford try to knock Jarrett Jack down.

rms

December 2nd, 2009
6:06 pm

hard to justify firing Woodson when the win stats are in his favor. I think Sund would like to hire his own guy but maybe trying to find a reason to fire Woodson but cant because the team is improving as a whole. For us to get better we must get better in the guard position for everyone else to get better. This means Bibby must improve his shooting and get everyone else involved.

Ron E.

December 2nd, 2009
6:09 pm

Until Teague starts making baskets, he isn’t going to get major minutes. So get in the gym and figure out your jumper, Jeff.

RLP

December 2nd, 2009
6:17 pm

Just a point of view on the team’s ownership. I think there are only a few franchises in the league that are willing to spend whatever it takes to win. Boston and Los Angeles are the most obvious examples of teams who has the resources necessary to compete successfully year after year. The Hawks ownership has not demonstrated that same willingness and I think it is obvious that the reason is because they do not possess that kind of resource. But there are alternative methods of achieving success. The first is to be very lucky when a franchise player comes along such as LBJ or Dwight Howard. Of course the most obvious example would be the Bulls and Michael Jordon. But then it is also possible to do show by good management. My prime example of that would be the Detroit Pistons. They have built championship teams that did not come by good fortune in the draft or by having tremendous resources. This kind of success is the most ethereal and least likely to achieve. I think one aspect of this kind of success has been demonstrated by the patience they have shown in being willing to build slowly and carefully. They have made mistakes. There are plenty of bloggers on this posting who will gladly point out what they think the mistakes have been. But in spite of those mistakes this year’s team may be on the cusp of achieving success beyond any in the franchise’s history. It may or may not occur. If they were to lose JJ at the end of the season they have done a good job in acquiring JC as a possible replacement. In the last blog I mentioned anther time in the franchise’s history when the team was on the cusp of greatness. In the 1960’s they lost their PG Lennie Wilkens on year and lost their center Zelmo Beatty the following year. They had a proud history of competing on the elite level for a number of years and it did not take long for the team to tumble out of the elite category. The Dominique led eighties and the Lennie led 90’s team could all go by the wayside of this current group and the patience exhibited by the owners will deserve recognition if they are successful. And I think most of us have been very negative on that group over and over. I will admit to expressing negative views of them. Now I think they may be in line for some well deserved kudos if this season goes well.

Ken Sugiura

December 2nd, 2009
6:40 pm

Thanks for the posts, all. I see what you’re saying about Teague, O’Brien. Here’s the one thing – yes, you could say, “They’re losing anyway, they might as well play him.” The problem is that in the middle of that game, it’s not like Woodson can say, “Looks like we’re going to lose this one. Let’s put Teague in.”

RLP – good post. The Crawford move may prove rather foresighted if Johnson leaves in free agency. I’m not sure Crawford is Johnson’s equal – he may well be – but he’d be a good replacement to have in place.

bigdave

December 2nd, 2009
7:00 pm

LETS GET IT…

Benjamin

December 2nd, 2009
7:03 pm

We’ll take care of business tonight. Coming off two days rest, and a little mad about Sunday’s outcome… we’ll win by double digits.

Ken Strickland

December 2nd, 2009
7:11 pm

I don’t know for certain, but maybe I’m reading something into what Woodson’s stated to Ken about his concern with the uptempo pace Toronto plays, which he says is on par with the Suns. Weren’t we playing that same uptempo pace earlier in the season when we were so dominant and consistently winning? If he’s so concerned about their uptempo style of play, why wouldn’t he realize other teams and HC’s felt the same way about us when we were playing that way, and we’re a lot more athletic, physical and versatile than either the Raptors or the Suns. How does he explain us going away from a style of play that’s proven to be so successful for this team and it’s talent?

Another thing he said puzzles me. He said he knows JJ’s forcing shots, but he’s going to continue riding him. I can understand a HC wanting to ride his star player. However, if that star player is disrupting the OFF, forcing and missing shots, and playing poorly overall, what in the hell are you expecting to ride him to but defeat? And isn’t that what we’ve been experiencing over the last 4gms?

Personally, I think it’s stupid to ride a player that’s playing as poorly as JJ’s been playing the last 4gms while forcing players that could be contributing to ride the bench. BUT, I GUESS THAT’S WHAT COY CALIBUR HC’S DO, ACCORDING TO SOME.

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:15 pm

Lets see how long it takes b4 Marvin does his vanishing act

J.J.M.

December 2nd, 2009
7:17 pm

wow tv just went out

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:17 pm

We better see Teague 2nite too

J.J.M.

December 2nd, 2009
7:19 pm

J.J.M.

December 2nd, 2009
7:20 pm

lol that fan is going crazy

Raptors Fans

December 2nd, 2009
7:22 pm

That was for the TJ Ford swipe. Horford actually had the nerve to stare back?? LOL

J.J.M.

December 2nd, 2009
7:23 pm

oh lord here we go

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:23 pm

Josh takin jumpers instead of driving on these soft raptors

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:29 pm

Can the hawks ever stop people from shooting 3’s??????

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:35 pm

Thats what I’m talking about Josh. No jumpers and attacking the basket

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:36 pm

bigdave

December 2nd, 2009
7:37 pm

like Joe’s approach tonight… not forcing… sharing the ball, feeding the hot hand/open man… and then picking his spots…

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:39 pm

Teague is playing well

Wabe

December 2nd, 2009
7:39 pm

Teague is playing some ball tonite.

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:40 pm

Were they playing “The Price is Right” music lol

niremetal

December 2nd, 2009
7:40 pm

You wanna know why +/- is a useless freaking stat? Because right now, Josh Smith is the only Hawk with a negative +/-.

bigdave

December 2nd, 2009
7:45 pm

once Jeff learns how to put the ball high off the glass on the layup attempts he’ll be okay…

Boy

December 2nd, 2009
7:47 pm

2nd team getting some good burn. good to see Marvin get some face time with them. go hawks

bigdave

December 2nd, 2009
7:48 pm

for those that think there is some divide b/t Joe and Jamal… check who was the most amp’ed after that all out hustle than 3 attempt from Crawford.. some of yall are drama divas/hunters … i see why you’d vouch so much for Wade here…

Ken Sugiura

December 2nd, 2009
7:49 pm

interesting to see how long woodson goes with the secon dunit against the starters.

terrell barron

December 2nd, 2009
7:50 pm

Damn, Woody trusting his bench tonight? Wtf?

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:50 pm

Maybe Woody realized how dumb he’s been becuz he’s been underutilizing his bench.

Ken Sugiura

December 2nd, 2009
7:51 pm

i woudlnt say +/- is useless based on what Josh Smith’s +/- is after one quarter. over the long term i think it can say something.

KevinA

December 2nd, 2009
7:52 pm

Seems like feed a big day. It’s working.

Melvin

December 2nd, 2009
7:53 pm

The 2nd unit has gotten extended mins and played well in the 1st half. Kudos to Woody to play those guys…

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:53 pm

I love Teague’s aggresiveness. He’s like the Anti-Acie

Najeh Davenpoop

December 2nd, 2009
7:55 pm

Teague played well in his limited minutes. Hawks are looking much better on offense than they have recently, attacking the basket and sharing the ball. Defensively they are still not where they were to start the season. Raptors have gotten too many easy looks and driving lanes.

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:56 pm

Yes Marvin hasn’t vanished yet

Blast

December 2nd, 2009
7:56 pm

At least no one can say Woody is not playing his bench tonite. Joe Smith and Teague got some nice burns, Zaza hustled and Marvin seems to be coming to life.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 2nd, 2009
7:56 pm

That’s two straight possessions where a) Joe has passed out of a double team and b) Marvin has taken and made a shot without hesitating.

J.J.M.

December 2nd, 2009
7:57 pm

lol did he say marrieta

Boy

December 2nd, 2009
7:57 pm

Marvin continues good work with the starters now. this is the hawks team I had envisioned for this year. gotta let the 2nd unit regular minutes.

BONE

December 2nd, 2009
7:57 pm

Bob was sweatin’ becuz he thought Nique was gonna say HEAT CHECK lmao

Najeh Davenpoop

December 2nd, 2009
7:58 pm

Horford and J-Smoove have done a great job using their strength to attack the Raptors inside. Chris Bosh may have height and length, but he is one of the weakest All-Star caliber big men I have ever seen. Both our front court guys are moving him off his spot with regularity.

terrell barron

December 2nd, 2009
7:58 pm

Lets not forget, the Raptors are a horrible defensive team.

Blast

December 2nd, 2009
7:58 pm

This is the Hawks team that reeled off 7 straight wins.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 2nd, 2009
7:59 pm

Bone, you beat me to it haha… I would have put some money on Nique saying “heat check” there.