Cleveland, Cleveland

Greetings, all-

What to make of Tuesday night?

Jamal Crawford’s take: “We had a rough stretch scoring the ball and that hasn’t been the case all year. We look at it as a fluke, laying an egg, and hopefully come out tomorrow and get a win.”

I don’t know if I entirely agree with him, but I don’t think he’s so far off. I don’t know what happened in the fourth quarter. Crawford said that pressure built with each failed possession. Al Horford said that Cleveland defended the transition differently and caught the Hawks by surprise. After a sizzling start, Joe Johnson might have been as ineffective as I’ve seen him. Obviously, Cleveland had something to do with it. The Cavs are one of the best defensive teams in the league – first in points in the paint allowed, second in defensive field goal percentage and fourth in points allowed per game. Earlier this season, they held Milwaukee scoreless for more than 11 minutes.

Mike Brown, before Tuesday’s game: “Guys are doing a nice job limiting teams to one shot. There were stretches (in the season) where we were getting hurt on the offensive glass, there were stretches where we got hurt in transition. There was a stretch where we were turning the ball over and our floor balance wasn’t great and we were getting hurt real bad with some easy baskets. We’ve kind of done a decent job of trying to clean that up. Our guys have been focusing on those areas and done a better job of not letting those easy buckets happen to us.”

But, it did seem fluky. I (and you, I imagine) have grown accustomed to the Hawks making good decisions with the ball – or at least not turning it over – and they were just haphazard, particularly in the fourth quarter. I guess the tougher part is teasing out how much pressure and defense had to do with it, and how much was the Hawks just imploding.

Some links:

Jeff Schultz’s column from the game.

“I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to go win a game instead of just playing the way we know how to play,” Josh Smith said. “We definitely thought about this game too hard.”

Hawks pre-game?

Hawks pre-game?

Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s game story.

(The Cavaliers) have never done what they enforced on the Hawks in this one, stuffing them for nearly nine minutes in the fourth quarter.

espn.com’s Daily Dime.

qualitatively it was shocking how little had changed from the playoff series nearly eight months ago.

Anyway, going forward.

Why the Hawks will win

1. Few gave them much of a chance in Boston and Dallas, and they won there. (The Dallas game, you’ll remember, followed the New York loss, one of the worst of the season. Josh Smith got tossed, the starters played extended minutes and it looked for all the world like Dallas would run the Hawks out of the gym. Interestingly, Crawford said pretty much the same thing following that New York game that he did Tuesday. This is a pretty confident group, and I didn’t sense any self-doubt in the locker room after the game.)

2. I think the Hawks think or know they can play with Cleveland, and I don’t think they’re scared. As poorly as the Hawks played offensively at times, they did a pretty solid job on Cleveland defensively, particularly in the second half. Marvin Williams defended admirably against LeBron James (and had a solid night overall), although I’m not sure where to draw the Marvin played well/LeBron played poorly line.

I think LeBron's the one on the left

I think LeBron's the one on the left

3. I don’t think the Hawks will have a stretch like they did Tuesday night, at least not of their own doing.

4. The Hawks were a little miffed with the chirping that some of the Cavaliers were doing, which may make them all the more eager for payback (if they need any more reasons). Without naming him, they were particularly unimpressed with the woofing that Jamario Moon was doing.

5. Despite their many incompetence issues, the Hawks had 23 fast-break points against Cleveland, 10 more than the Cavs’ average. There’s no reason the Hawks can’t do better if they handle the ball better in transition than Tuesday.

Why they won’t

1. Again with James – even if Williams had a lot to do with his 6-for-20, there’s no way he plays like that two nights in a row.

2. When the Hawks won in Boston, they were helped by Boston shooting 1 for 15 from 3-point range. In Dallas, Josh Howard was out.

3. Besides James, I don’t think Cleveland played all that well. There were a number of turnovers that were just bad, bad plays that I wouldn’t expect that team to make. The Hawks will likely face a better team Wednesday.

4. One of the Hawks’ pillars is rebounding. Cleveland neutralized the Hawks Tuesday, outrebounding the Hawks 43-30 and holding them to five offensive boards, and there’s no reason to think the Cavaliers can’t do it again.

5. Bottom line, it’s hard not to say that the Cavaliers are a better team. The Hawks’ chance to take one was Tuesday.

Why do you think the Hawks will win/lose tonight? Feel free to use my reasons, as each of them rates a 10 for insight.*

This one goes to 11.

This one goes to 11.

Also, I’m planning on figuring out who won the prediction contest in my hotel in Cleveland this afternoon. Looking forward to it.

* Sarcasm.

632 comments Add your comment

Jenious

December 30th, 2009
12:12 pm

Jenious

December 30th, 2009
12:18 pm

I watched the game at Papadeaux last night. Who was seated at the table next to me? Michael “the burner” Turner. I watched hin get up and go to the restroom and his ankle looked fine to me. What a slacker.

As for the Hawks; they are who I thought, uh…think they are…uh were…uh….You get my meaning. They are OK as long as they are not in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the pressure is on and they will lose again tonight.

jay dubu

December 30th, 2009
12:20 pm

The Hawks have folded against Orlando in a game at home that they should have easily won, and last night against the Cavs, they had 8 chances to take the lead at the beinning of the 4th quarter, and failed each time.

There’s something missing. They have to be abel to not just compete, but to beat these teams when they play them at home.

Absent of that, they’ll get their #4 spot in the playoffs, and be out in the 2nd round.

Ramon

December 30th, 2009
12:28 pm

I truly believe the Hawks will win by 12 tonight. As the Cavs said themselves they had a hard time on the boards last night. Two of their best rebounders are both over 30 and on the downside of their career. I see Josh and Al having a better chance to bounce back for a good game on the boards than I do of Shaq and Ilguaskus. This may sounds rough, but I think the problem is they need someone to give Varejao some true physical play. If he catches one or two elbows in the side or the back while flying around for a rebound, I think it will slow him down.

The question I have is, in the fourth on the breakaway for West, why didn’t Evans foul him at half court?

Anyway, I look for the Hawks to come into this game with a lot of confidence. I also look for them to leave with confidence and a victory. I think in the first half, the Hawks should goto Pheonix old rule of 10 seconds or less, just to go ahead and get the big guys out of the game.

O'Brien

December 30th, 2009
12:32 pm

I was very disappointed in the Hawks last night. After beating Boston, we had a chance for a statement game against Orlando on national TV, and we got outscored by 29 in the second half.

Another statement game against Cleveland, and we go scoreless for 9 minutes. And where was Joe Johnson?

I dont think the Hawks win tonight because of LeBron. He was horrible last night, and did not get as many foul calls as he’s used to. Playing at home, he will be hard to stop (I hope Marvin is ready to step up his defense again).

That being said, I hope I’m wrong, because I would love to see the Hawks beat Cleveland in their own building, especially since we might see them in the playoffs.

terrell barron

December 30th, 2009
12:39 pm

Calling Turner a slacker because he can walk to the bathroom? Wtf! And from last blog: RA, whats going to be your excuse after tonights game? We’re still running ISO oe’s after 5 years of the sh.. not working, and you talking bout how the Lakers played against Cleveland. The Lakers take a break every now and then. They can afford to do that. They’re the CHAMPS. We got swept by Cleveland in the Playoffs last year, and last night we had a chance at redemption. But instead, we layed an egg. Plain and Simple. Maybe we’ll redeem ourselves tonight? I seriously doubt it though. And again, SUND thanks for not jumping the GUN. New contract my a..!

Jenious

December 30th, 2009
12:43 pm

Sorry Terrell…I didn’t think it necessary to type “(sarcasm)” after my comment like Ken did. Guess he knows his audience better than me.

terrell barron

December 30th, 2009
12:47 pm

And Woody, there’s only a few players in this league that you can say “give him the ball and everyone get the hell out of the way”, and Joe Johnson IS NOT one of those players. We’ve got to play as a TEAM, or we’re doomed.

terrell barron

December 30th, 2009
12:49 pm

Marvin and the rights to Childress for McGrady. Move JJ to sf. lol!!

Wabe

December 30th, 2009
1:07 pm

I’m curious to see if Marvin can duplicate his defensive performance in tonites game.

Last night’s game was gaurd-dominated. Not Lebron-dominated, not bigs-dominated. The matchups favor Cleveland in the backcourt. We can’t matchup with Delonte West. As someone else mentioned in another post, we can’t cover up Bibby’s inabilities on the defensive end.

If you throw Bibby out there with Crawford and JJ, then JJ’s stuck playing LBJ. If you want Marvin out there guarding LBJ, then you have JJ/Crawford covering up West/Williams. Defensively, this is probably the Hawks best chance to slow down the Cavs, but offensively, it hurt us last night. Without Bibby on the floor, we couldn’t seem to generate a single good shot.

The Magic give the Cavs problems because their 4-man can stretch the floor. Towards the end of the 1st half, we tryed a lineup with Marvin at the 4, but the problem gets to be downlow with Horford banging with 2 7-footers. We struggled to get boards in that stretch and they got a couple of easy tip-ins/drives to the lane.

What lineup would be best for the Hawks to floor to slow down Cleveland on the defensive end and to generate offense?

bigdave

December 30th, 2009
1:11 pm

be it that our coaching style is more reactive… when struggling, our in game adjustments and counters are usually sub par. it seems when never make that tactical move to get us over the top or to even hold serve for that matter…

i think tonight’s game will tell us more about our team than last night. as a unit, coaches and players. how resilient are we? do we punch back? our hawks looked as if they were under pressure. we were pressing last night, but this team is older, and should have performed better. even with not as favorable chances of winning it would have been to our advantage to have played the 1st game in Cleveland.

im waiting on Woodson to out coach somebody… we can’t win against better schemes with just talent alone. when we show the ability to successfully modify a game plan we can compete with the triumvirate… those coaching staffs have illustrated such.

Wabe

December 30th, 2009
1:13 pm

This team is capable of beating Cleveland in Cleveland. I’m not bashing Woody here, but he had no answers in terms of adjustments last night.

If we walk into Cleveland and get blown out tonite, this team is no different from what we saw last year. Sure, we’ve got upgrades, but we don’t want to walk away from this 2-game series with our heads down. This is a “prove yourselves” type of series, and another blowout loss in Cleveland won’t do anything to help the Hawks morale. I wouldn’t count the Hawks out tonite, especially based on an 8-minute scoreless stretch we witnessed last night.

Let’s see what we can do tonite. I’m not too hopeful, but not hopeless. A W tonite is vital for this teams near/future success.

bigdave

December 30th, 2009
1:20 pm

someone…?

is there any way financially that we could rent T-Mac for the rest of this season… down the road we need more consistent offensive production from out starting SF spot…

Just A Thought

December 30th, 2009
1:34 pm

What if we could someway find a way to trade Joe to the Rockets for T-Mac. I know T-Mac is coming off major injuries but hell Joe keeps fading to black in every big game.

ww5

December 30th, 2009
1:36 pm

the cave will continue to out rebound the hawks on the hawks end as long as the hawks stand around and watch each other shoot instead of following a few missed shots. this is 8th grade b ball coaching

terrell barron

December 30th, 2009
1:37 pm

Woody is the Head Coach, and Tyronne Hill is the big-man Coach. Nuff said! And we’re wondering why we lost? There’s your answer.

terrell barron

December 30th, 2009
1:40 pm

Wabe, has he ever had any answers in terms of adjustments?

Lowenbrau

December 30th, 2009
1:47 pm

Cavs fan here. I just think that last night the Cavs turned up the dial defensively in the 4th quarter. The Cavs have been kicking up their defense at the ends of games more and more this season. A couple weeks ago they even held Sacramento scoreless in overtime. With the exception of Mo Williams, all of the Cavs rotation players are capable of playing great defense. Delonte West is a fantastic defender, and so is LeBron when he wants to be.

I think the Hawks are better than last year. They’ve gone up a notch. The problem is, they’re still a notch below the Cavs….and probably the Celtics and Magic too. The Hawks can get to that level, but they just might be a year or two away right now.

Lowenbrau

December 30th, 2009
1:48 pm

By the way, I can’t believe Mark Price is now one of your assistant coaches. Say it ain’t so, Mark! You belong in Cleveland….

jhan

December 30th, 2009
2:07 pm

tb – come on now! You know Woody is the best coach in the NBA! The only reason we lost is because the players didn’t execute.

The real reason we lost was poor shooting (FT & FG) – just like the Orlando game. Everyone had good looks at the basket in the 4th quarter but couldn’t hit squat!

Poor Marvin – he stuffs Lebron then throws the ball away for an easy Cav’s basket! The guy can’t win! Even though I never played ball in college it was plain to see that Marvin played great defense last night. When he guarded Lebron there were no explosive drives to the rim or easy post up shots. Lebron had to settle for highly contested jumpshots.

When Josh was guarding him …….?? Curious to hear others comments.

cp

December 30th, 2009
2:08 pm

Like the daily dime stated, nothing much changed from the playoffs of last year. We have a coach who can only come up with one game plan at a time. He never has a back up plan or any great counter moves. Ol Woodrow just cannot make adjustments. The Cavs took away what was working and Woodrow for the life of him couldn’t find a way to adjust. As he says, just play harder. So I guess our plan B is always play harder . Sund did the right thing by waiting to see if he wants to give Woodrow a new deal. Come playoff time we will be playing these types of games and it looks like Woodrow still cant come up with any plays on that board other than iso iso iso iso and play harder.

KevinA

December 30th, 2009
2:29 pm

Win by the jump shot, die by the jump shot. Not a surprise. This has been our identity for years. Were a better team for sure but even good jump shooting teams have up and down nights. We are still on track for 50-54 wins which is what I hoped for going into the season. We will still beat a few good teams and lose to a few bad teams.

Balance watch

Post 11-21

Swing 4-9

Guards 16-39

Stat of the night JJ makes four in a row – than goes 1-9. 5-14 overall. Add Bibby with 1-7 and you see how the night went.

Tonight lets hope they shoot us to victory.

Ramon

December 30th, 2009
2:42 pm

Just A Thought, sorry but that was a wasted thought, unless you’re not a Hawks fan.

Maxx

December 30th, 2009
3:12 pm

The officiating was ATROCIOUS in the 4th quarter last night. Every time we would start to get some momentum the refs would make a bogus off-ball foul call on us, call a travel, and then not call fouls when our guys are getting Clubbed on the other end. I was there last night, everyone could see it, we got JOBBED in our own house by these subpar NBA officials. Then we lost our composure, Woody got a T, and we couldn’t hit a shot. The Cavs were given 100% momentum, in a close game, by the Zebras. Expect the Hawks to give Cleveland their best shot tonight, and if they can take it, they can take it, but I don’t think they will. Look for the Hawks to play angry and motivated tonight, and don’t be surprised if they beat the Cavs handily.

Maxx

December 30th, 2009
3:13 pm

Look for Smoove to do WORK tonight, along with Horford, Bibby, JJ, and Crawford. We want this one BAD

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
3:19 pm

Good posts. Trade for tmac. Get some scoring. And we have no chance of competing this year or ever with this roster.

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
3:23 pm

We needed that cold 8 mins to happen in 2nd yesterday. I LOVE when woody gets t’ed up. If we lose tonight we’ll be 12 gms over .500 (or 11?) Just like last year. If we lose tonight it will be a rough january. As ppl keep saying, we have to play perfect bball to beat elite teams

Justin

December 30th, 2009
3:43 pm

Our biggest problem was obviously in the paint- giving up points in the paint lack of rebounding. Also, our free throws killed us. If we had just had a decent night at the line and grabbed a few more rebounds, this could have been a different result even with that awful 4th quarter stretch.
Delonte West plays great D on JJ. In a way, Crawford saved us, but once we became dependent on him JJ lost all of his flow and the offense just broke down completely. Some of the worst turnovers imagineable- especially that throw away by Marvin under the Cavs’ goal.

jhan

December 30th, 2009
3:46 pm

Joe Mama – can’t argue with your thoughts. We need a big fella to throw out there against Cleveland, Boston & Orlando. Sure wish the ASG would have let Sund trade for Kaman last year, though I’m not sure what we would have given up.

The only way to beat these teams – attach the rim & run, run, run…..

jhan

December 30th, 2009
3:47 pm

I meant attack, not attach.

newkid

December 30th, 2009
4:07 pm

jhan,
Gotta agree with you regarding Marvin’s defense on Lebron last night. Marvin’s length & strength, his balance (i.e., his weight distribution while in defensive stance), and his refusal to react to LBJ’s fakes, all seem to have bothered the chosen one last night. I expect Cleveland to try and use more picks tonight to trick Woody’s switching defense into more preferred LBJ vs Crawford, and LBJ vs Josh, and LBJ vs Bibby match-ups.

Both Marvin and JJ match up really well with LBJ; Smoove can’t move his feet or body quick enough out on the floor, and Bibby & JCross just don’t present any sort of defensive threat to LBJ. If Cleveland’s backcourt is not on fire like last night, I look for much more of LBJ against our poorer defenders in tonight’s re-match.

We need Marvin to duplicate last night’s defensive work; we need more shots for the highly efficient Horford; we need more of a presence from Joe Smith on the offensive boards; and we need Smoove to stay out of early foul trouble.

chas

December 30th, 2009
4:21 pm

Very simple to diagnose the problem I think: 1) No penetration from the point 2) No post up threats

Mike Bibby should not be starting for our team. We don’t have enough offensive threats on our team to have a point guard that does not penetrate and dish for an open J. Give Teague I try and I guarantee the results will be better. Bibby fills it up against the weaker teams when they leave him open for a three. Easy to beat the dead horse but if we had C. Paul instead of Williams we would be a legit contender. We don’t have a great post of threat and thus do not create double teams that lead to open J’s. It is a wonder how we even score as many points as we do. Prove me wrong tonight Hawks or I will be forced to bore everyone with comments.

Ramon

December 30th, 2009
4:28 pm

Chas, how would we be an elite team still without a center, and even worse without Horford?

Ramon

December 30th, 2009
4:29 pm

Chas, how would we be an elite team still without a center, and even worse without Horford? And we also probably wouldn’t have Joe or Smoove, because Paul is making MAX money! Do you actually see this owner group paying for 3 close to max players, and STILL being without a Center?

a1andonly

December 30th, 2009
4:29 pm

A trade for T-Mac might not be bad. But I still wanna give my boys a chance together first. Marvin….Please focus more. JJ needs to take it to the rim 24/7. I hope Bibby shot about 500 3’s today to get prepared for this game because he was broke last night. Horford and Josh need to pound tonight. Play really aggressive. Matter fact all the time. Win or lose, Im still a Hawks fan though. Let’s smash on em’ HAWKS!!!!!!!

Wink

December 30th, 2009
4:29 pm

Worst 4th quarter I have ever seen from both teams. However, Cleveland finally got going. No ADJUSTMENTS from Coach Woody. He could not even manage to get thrown out by getting a second T; also a strange time to take a T when your team has not scored for almost 5 minutes. I can’t even recall him taking a time out.

Where in the H-ll was Joe? He disappeared after the 7 minute mark of the 1st quarter.

What happen to the difference makers we brought in to contend with teams like the Cavs: Joe Smith no impact, DNP for Teague & Collins. Crawford played well, made buckets; Was’nt Joe suppose to help carry the load too?

Josh Smith is also starting to revert to Josh of old, putting up jumpshots & complaining all night.

Good luck in Cleveland tonight…I think I will tape this one & watch later…………

chas

December 30th, 2009
4:31 pm

Hate to respond to my own comment, but can anyone tell me why Mike Bibby starts for the Atlanta Hawks? And, don’t give me that “experience” nonsense. I’d like Bibby on the bench to fill up a few threes and spell the starting PG but not play 30+ minutes a game. Teague is young no doubt, but does it make sense to not give him even a minute in the game? If all Bibby is for is to bring the ball up the court and pass it to JJ is that the answer to our problems? Plus, he is a defensive liability.

Volman

December 30th, 2009
4:33 pm

Terrell, you’re wrong… The Hawks actually didn’t run “ISO Joe” that much the 4th quarter… I saw many misses from Horford, Smoove, Bibby, Crawford as well… Please look at the plays during the Hawks poor 4th quarter run before you claim that.

chas

December 30th, 2009
4:38 pm

I hear ya Ramon. Perhaps you are correct..is Paul making what three of those guys are combined?

Ken Sugiura

December 30th, 2009
4:43 pm

Good posts, all.
for whatever it’s worth, lebron averages somewhere close to his overall average against the hawks. marvin on lebron will be very interesting to watch tonight.
justin – i agree. rebounding was a huge factor. hawks have to find a way to get more offensive boards.

Ramon

December 30th, 2009
4:44 pm

Chas, do you realize the offense of the Hawks is in the top 5 and that is all because of how few times Bibby turns the ball over? In less than a third of the playing time, Teague is averaging a turn over a game with Bibby. Bibby may have bad shooting games, and he may not penetrate. But how often in a game do you see Bibby 3-4 bad plays in the same game? This is the best offense the Hawks have played in the history of the organization. Before Teague can average over 20 minutes a game, he needs to slow down. He’s going faster than the ball is going, and he’s losing himself on many possessions. So many people speak about Bibby’s lack of defense, but how many games have Teague came in when the Hawks were up by 25 or so and the game ends up being decided by 14 points? I think Teague will be good. But he’s not ready yet.

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
4:47 pm

Today is LeBron’s birthday and he has finally recovered from his Wednesday morning hangover after partying hard in the ATL. Could be a rough night. If we lose tonight going into January and have to play that gruesome schedule, we could be 6 or 7 games over .500 by the end of January

chas

December 30th, 2009
4:52 pm

Ramon, you had me at hello, but you lost me with the “best offense the Hawks have played in the history of the organization. You may be too young to have seen the Dominique years, but that team 87-88 could have taken our current team down each and every night. And you are correct that Chris Paul makes good cash , but according to my sources he makes that same as Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby combined. I’ll of course take Paul instead of Williams and Bibby. Bibby doesn’t turn the ball over because all he does is bring the ball the half court and pass it to JJ. How could he turn the ball over. Teague may turn the ball over more but he’ll should generate more offense too. I know he is young, but throw him out there. We will not ever win a championship with Mike Bibby starting at the point..mark my word.

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
4:53 pm

Ramon,

Bibby is probably the worst defensive point guard in the NBA. He is severely overweight, has no speed, and is so predictable with the “pick n roll & pullup jumper” play. He is only good for alleyoops to Josh Smith, which even Joe Johnson can do.

We need a point guard and small forward…Bad…

chas

December 30th, 2009
4:57 pm

Good points JeJe. He is a defensive liability…too slow and too short.

There were a couple of games back in the 7 game playoff with Boston that Mike Bibby had 2 or less assists or something atrocious like that. That is more difficult to do than a 20 assist night.

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
4:59 pm

Can anyone on here honestly with a straight face say we are contenders? We are not gonna win with bibby doing nothing on offense. We have to be on fire to beat elite teams. We haven’t had one offgame in the last 6yrs where we beat an elite team.we are the exact same team as last year with a better 6th man. We will win 52 games but get destroyed in the 2nd round regardless. This bs about “young guys growing together…another year together” is garbage. Marv has reached his ceiling and horf and smoove rnt gonna get that much better. On top of that, our superstar joe johnson had the same # of pts in the 2nd round last year as delonte on 20 more shots. LOL!! Let joe get his 20m from new jersey. How can someone like d.wade watch last night’s game and not think he’d be that missing piece to get us that ring? I’m so sick and tired of joe’s bs. Horford is much more deserving to be an allstar than joe. Get rid of marvin joe and woody this offseason.

chas

December 30th, 2009
5:00 pm

I’ll send anyone out there a Mike Bibby autographed picture tomorrow if he has 10 assists or more tonight. I can get one on ebay real cheap.

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
5:01 pm

chas,

Our “stars” shrink vs. the great teams.

Joe had 60 points in the Cleveland series. So did Delonte, on 20 less shots. Bibby did nothing in the 2008 Boston series, 2 years younger. The guy has no speed anymore. He has no offensive moves. He is good for nothing besides a three pointer here or there. Why don’t we just get Jason Kapono for that?

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
5:01 pm

Bibby is running out of gas. Marvin has already reached his ceiling.

Make a trade

JeJe

December 30th, 2009
5:03 pm

Delonte West, at 6″3, can do anything Marvin can do at 6″9. Can someone explain to me why Delonte is better than 3/4 of our team and he doesn’t even start?

What a joke.

Fire Woodson for not using the bench in close games