Somewhere over Alabama or Mississippi – I’m on my way to Dallas. It struck me as odd that I’ll be in Atlanta and Dallas today, but am covering neither the SEC or Big 12 championship.
Anyway, my quick take on the New York loss. Obviously, losing Josh Smith was huge, in that the starters burned more minutes than they would have, and the Knicks went at the basket with relative impunity. The Knicks shot 30/41 in the lane for 60 PIP – tying the season high against the Hawks – and the Hawks only blocked two shots, a season low. I don’t think it’s beyond the scope of reason to say that the Hawks would have won with Smith but I’d also say the Hawks still should have won anyway. They realized a little late that Al Horford and Joe Johnson were the answers offensively.
I don’t have an answer about how the Hawks could have protected the rim better. You’d think Woodson would have tried Joe Smith in the middle or Jeff Teague on Chris Duhon. I didn’t get to ask Woodson last night, but my suspicions would be that he’d say that Smith would have been a matchup problem against New York’s small ball and that he’d rather have Bibby than Teague in against the Knicks because he wanted to control the pace and Teague can’t do that like Bibby can and that Mo Evans was his attempt to slow down Duhon. Hopefully I can get an answer about that this evening.
As far as the various complaints about the switching defense, I’m not so sure it’s as easy as saying, “O.K., let’s stop switching and play straight up.” Maybe it is, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t think so. I think maybe the answer Friday wasn’t the defensive system, just the way it was executed. (which isn’t exactly comforting, either.)
I forget who said this in the game thread, but whoever said that this maybe is just who the Hawks are may be on to something. They may just be a good but not great team. That said, the Knicks beat the Suns earlier this week and they nearly beat Boston, and the Dallas team that everyone expects to pound the Hawks lost to Memphis Friday. That doesn’t exactly justify the Hawks losing to New York, but if you’re going to say “The Hawks are terrible; they lost to New York, New Orleans and Detroit,” how do you explain them beating Boston, Portland, Miami and Denver?
I don’t like saying this because it’s cliche, but it’s probably also true. The Hawks aren’t as good as some of you thought they were during the seven-game run, and they’re not as bad as some of you think they are now.
One other thing – while I agree to a point with many of you about Johnson’s shot selection, last night it seemed like it was the only thing working in the second half. He was 9 for 13 in the second half. The rest of the team was 11 for 26.
Anyway, let’s see what Saturday night brings. I think what the Hawks are hoping for is that everyone brings their pocket TV’s to the game to watch Texas-Nebraska and Josh Smith brings a full steam of redemption to the arena.
It’s obviously going to be a bear. Jason Kidd-Mike Bibby could be problematic, certainly, though I’m not going to vouch for Kidd’s defensive ability, either.
One other thing that I just find kind of funny – for those of you who lambaste Marvin Williams, here’s what I don’t get: You rip him up and down (which is your right as a fan), but then I read these fanciful trade proposals. I’m not here to stick up for him or attack him, but I’m just asking, if he’s as ineffective as you think he is, what makes you think another NBA team is going to want him? I swear, I think I read someone saying the Hawks should trade him for Chris Bosh.
Lastly, hopefully I’ll get the chance today to check back on all your predictions for the Hawks’ 10-game stretch that ends against Dallas. I’ll try to have something up when I get it done.
Enjoy your Saturdays, everyone.