“This is the NBA, man”

Joe Johnson was talking the other night about how the Hawks twice allowed Charlotte to get back in the game. He was looking down searching for the words to describe their inconsistent effort, their stagnant offense, their fickle focus . . . and then he seemed to catch himself and suddenly looked up to make his point.

“This is the NBA, man” Johnson said. “That happens.”

In other words, it’s hard to always be dominant. It’s difficult to get good opponents down and keep them there. It’s not easy to always be up. It’s impossible to go all out all the time.

Even Woody softened his assessment of the Hawks over the course of the 4-1 homestand, from “we are still trying to learn how to win at a high level” to “I couldn’t ask for anything better” when assessing the first half of the season. Both statements can be true. He will ask for more, of course. He’s the coach. The players seem to want more, too, and they should. That’s what you expect from any team looking to do something big.

But take a look at the Hawks. For all the complaints about the slow starts, the poor finishes, the silly shot selection, the lack of toughness, the short bench, etc., etc., the Hawks are in position to win their division and push the Celtics for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference. It’s been a long time since they’ve been this good. That’s something to keep in mind as the they begin a taxing week tonight at Houston.

The Hawks aren’t close to perfect, and they won’t get a chance to prove if they’re great until the postseason, but right now they are damn good. This is the NBA, man, and after 42 games that’s significant.

MC

64 comments Add your comment

Eric

January 25th, 2010
12:15 am

You are speaking the truth man

BONE

January 25th, 2010
12:31 am

I guess the new writer thinks the Hawks are front runners to the Title, he must be drinking from the fountain of Big Ray.

Harpie

January 25th, 2010
12:57 am

Fire Woodson – he doesn’t know how to coach. They’re doing pretty well IN SPITE of him; they’d be doing a lot better if they had a good coach.

AtlantaFan

January 25th, 2010
2:29 am

Couldn’t Agree more with Harpie. The look of bewilderment that he has on his face at all times is not the sign of a coach. That, and the fact that he doesn’t even attempt to coach the offense. Does he think this is football and he can just be the defensive coordinator? He is a joke.

northcyde

January 25th, 2010
2:50 am

Mike C . . . you are definitely an upgrade to this blog, even over Sekou. You keep fresh and new material coming every day. Keep it up man.

tbhawksfan

January 25th, 2010
2:51 am

“It’s impossible to go all out all the time.” No it isn’t. The don’t play 24-7. They play a few games a week and they have back ups. It’s a team game. They should be all out, all the time. When they’re tired, you play the reserves…all out.

I’d rather hear the team leader and coach say; we let down and stopped executing and let them back into a game. Need to pick it up.

Talent, co-ordination and good days, bad days are a reality. Effort and execution should be a constant.

tjhook

January 25th, 2010
3:51 am

Look for Zaza to make some plays of significance on this Texas trip. Height and ruggedness will be of importance when we take on these two teams

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

January 25th, 2010
5:16 am

Just getting in from all the revelry in the WHO DAT nation. Another great one MC. This Houston game is a real test for them. Its a given The Rockets will be fired up from the thrilling last second loss at our hands last November. Here’s to hoping we can dominate this one on the road and start the week off with an exclamation point.

Baghdad Hawk

January 25th, 2010
5:54 am

Third best record in the East. Fifth best record in the NBA. Leading the Southeast Division. And these are OUR Atlanta Hawks. If before the start of the season this was predicted, you would not have been happy? Woody has his faults, and the team has their moments, but they have progressed together. I for one am looking forward to the second half, and most importantly the next game against the Rockets. Go Hawks!!

tbhawksfan

January 25th, 2010
6:10 am

“This is the NBA, man” his next sentence was; next year we’re going to learn…..what do you call it?……..OH…Offense.

Clyde

January 25th, 2010
6:51 am

vava74

January 25th, 2010
7:13 am

Excellent job MC. I agree with Northcyde: you are an upgrade even to Sekou.

Volume and quality!

Keep it up!!!

What JJ said is true: nobody is perfect and every single team has the ability to win any given game (perhaps minus NJ :-) )

I saw POR implode in the Garden the other night launching stupid shots whilst they were up by 1 or 2 in the last minute.

Then in overtime their collapse was even more crushing… And this is a team which is coached by Nate McMillan, who is lauded by just about everyone as one of the best.

Zero or poor ball movement, poor shot selection (stupid 3 pointers), ISO-Miller… Aldridge choking…

IN SUMMARY: they looked like the Hawks.

Of course, POR is decimated and their current record under those conditions is a proof that Nate is doing a terrific job. HOWEVER the point is that, regardless of how well someone coaches, the execution is the players responsibility.

(I actually think that they play better without Roy at the SG position holding the ball too much, very similarly to JJ)

Hence, the fact is that what happens with the Hawks happens with everyone: players usually have poor discipline and tend to break away from the “program”.

Is Woody perfect? No.

Could we be better with another coach? Probably yes.

Would I like to see the Hawks better coached? Yes.

Would I fire Woody now? No.

Woody is also responsible for the record we have now. His switching defense works. NOT all the time (there he needs to work), but in most games we have periods in which we completely fluster the opponents with the switching defense and when we don’t IN MANY cases the problem is lack of player effort to play the switching defense consistently (which normal when you are not dealing with robots).

Our offense if stagnant and too predictable at times, but who is responsible? Maybe we have a bunch of players who have excellent character, who are hardworking but lack the mental discipline to execute more complex schemes.

We don’t know what happens during practice!!!!

All the above applies to Bibby: he is also responsible for our success, the same way that is also responsible for some of our losses.

He is what he is and I truly believe that he will evolve into a top notch vet coming off the bench in years to come.

The fact that he is taking less shots and playing less minutes with a happy face tells a lot about his comprehension of his role now and in the future.

We all love seeing Josh soar and throw down a dunk off an alley-hoop pass, many times off a time out. In many many cases the ball was in Bibby’s hands at the start of those passes.

He has excellent court vision and knows his limitations. My only significant critique given the fact that I see that he puts a good effort in almost all that he does?

I believe that he should be more aggressive and look to drive for contact more often: even slow, he is very savvy and when he drives he can still draw fouls and coax the refs in to blowing their whistles (something which JJ unfortunately is not versed).

dap01

January 25th, 2010
7:41 am

The is the NBA when a player on a team up by 14 shoots while being double teamed with 15 seconds on the shot clock. Instead of someone saying “that’s stupid, are you trying to pad your stats?”, they say, “This is the NBA, man!”.

richbrave

January 25th, 2010
7:47 am

The more you participate ala DAVID O’BRIEN, the more fans participate, the more the AJC points to advertisers and says “see”, the bigger your fan-base and paycheck. Well, maybe not that check, but the other points – check. Thanks Mr. Cunningham.

High Flyer

January 25th, 2010
8:13 am

Ok…All of the calls fore Woody to be fired, I ask and be replaced with Who??? The Hawks are for real and if some of you naysayers would stop listening to sports talk and watch the games you would know that!!!Woody is right on point with how is handling this team and the Hawks are a legit player in the NBA this year!!!

Fundamentals

January 25th, 2010
8:23 am

I’m proud of our Hawks through the 1st half. They seem to be improving and growing each day.

I do agree that Bibby is taking his new role well. He is definitely in a slump, but should prove a valuable piece in the years to come as he moves into a backup role. I knew in advance his signing for 3 years would leave us with a backup in year 3, maybe even year 2, but he deserves it for the leadership he’s given this team. As new leaders emerge and mature it’s only natural for Bibby to move to the back seat. He’s showing he’s able to do that for our TEAM. I respect him for that.

Why read so much into Joe’s answers. He’s never been great with the media, he’s never been what alot of folks want. He is what he is, a great TEAM player. Let the man do his thing. As we get more folks to grow, the demands on Joe will lower and he can relax into his game. This will only make him a better player. Right now, while he feels like our team captain he’s going to do everything he can to make sure he gets 20 pts a night. Sometimes it hurts us, but hopefully he’s starting to see he can finally rely on consistent, reliable help on offense. Something he’s never had in ATL.

Game tonight will be won by effort and rebounding. 1st game of the week will set the tone. I’m looking forward to a great TEAM effort. Having a good week will put us right at the top for everyone to notice. Might be a nice spot to be for the remainder of the 2nd half.

Fundamentals

January 25th, 2010
8:30 am

High Flyer,

Don’t get so riled up about the same sermons.

Those guys post to fire Woody, trade Marvin, trade Bibby, don’t resign Joe, trade everyone for Brook Lopez & sign Biedrens almost daily. Virtually every time they don’t ever post a recommendation as to who we’ll replace them with.

Like you said, why post the crap without a real, better alternative that we could turn to?

Definitely weak posting in my opinion.

Mike is Back

January 25th, 2010
10:00 am

vava74, an northcyde certainly MC is off to a great start…and his name is Michael…that’s gotta count for sumin. lol

HOWEVER, I WOULDN’T GET CARRIED AWAY…Sekou built this blog from scratch when most people in this city didn’t give a crap about promoting the Hawks…THERE IS NO EQUAL TO SEKOU broooooooooooooooooooooooos!!!!!

Other than that…I agree I like his blogs they are refreshing…he doing his thang…The thing that bothers me is…he is pumping out so many blogs…sometime guys don’t get the proper time to respond, tell lies, and insult each other…therefore I’m deprive of my laughter…just kidding…he is doing a great job…way to go MC. heh heh

I’m calling a victory over Houston…and we want do no worst than 500 these next four games.

Can’t say enough about them ATOWN DANCERS…that one with fresh haircut had me wanting to buy some items from home depot. lol

They look greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat!!!!!!!!

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
10:05 am

With all the fire Woody comments….you would thinks the Hawks were the NJ Nets.

When was the last time a team fired a coach for overachieving?

No sure the answer, but Woody is doing a very good job.

Could the team be better? Yes, but so could the Lakers, Cavs, Bos Orl, Spurs, and Denver.

theZaZaguy

January 25th, 2010
10:22 am

I’m glad we’re leading our division. I’m more happy about the fact that we don’t have to watch that “atlanta’s air force” crap anymore (which was the last time the team was this good).

O'Brien

January 25th, 2010
10:30 am

I’ve always been very critical of Woody, but its hard to argue with the results. As long as the Hawks put up a good fight in the playoffs (win at least 2 or 3 games in the second round), then he will have earned his extension.

The 2 things I want from him is hire an offensive coordinator, and for Woody to be more flexible (if switching isn’t working, then stop; if a vet is struggling, make a change etc.).

As far as JJ being our captain, I dont think that role suits him. He got thrown into that role just because he was our best player. But he has given us 110%, and I am glad we have him on the team. I hope he resigns, because we need him more than he needs us.

Big Ray

January 25th, 2010
10:31 am

I agree that MC is doing one hell of a job here.

BONE ,

Come on, now. I’m not serving that kind of koolaid in my fountain, as you call it. I said or thought the Hawks are a frontrunner for the title, and if you read this blog by MC carefully, he’s not saying it either. That’s something you EARN, and the Hawks haven’t come close to earning it yet. To be mentioned like that, you have to spend a full season being good, win 50+ games, make the Eastern Conference Finals or at least get very darn close, and then have a good offseason. In my opinion, the Hawks have to do all of that this season before they can be considered title contenders. Miss any one of those elements, and they’re not a contender. But that’s just my opinion.

What MC is saying, and I agree with, is that the Hawks are in pretty good position to approach that level, here at 42 games. Season’s not over yet. We’ll see how they continue….

Big Ray

January 25th, 2010
10:35 am

Co-sign O’brien’s 10:30 post. Every word of it.

Astro Joe

January 25th, 2010
10:45 am

We don’t have an elite player. We don’t have an elite roster/payroll. We don’t have an elite head coach. Yet, we are in an elite position in terms of the standings. Sometimes, the whole truly is better than the piece parts. I still think we’ll end up in the 4th slot, but I can’t understand any argument that suggests the first half hasn’t been a success.

Go Hawks!

theZaZaguy

January 25th, 2010
10:48 am

Not only are we elite, we’re exciting to watch. How many other teams have a four throwing a lob from one free throw line to the five at the other free thrown line for a breakaway dunk? I think I can count one game at Philips arena where Smoove didn’t get a dunk (and we won that game).

Michael Cunningham

January 25th, 2010
10:51 am

@Bone: not saying that at all. i’ve covered a title winner (2006 Heat) and the Hawks aren’t on that level. that team had one of the best players in the league (D. Wade), Shaq in the last year where he could carry a team for two or three games at a time, and a bunch of veterans who knew how to play their role (GP, Posey, Haslem, J.-Will, and believe it or not even Antoine Walker). and of course they had Pat Riley on the bench. the Hawks don’t have that kind of makeup. all i’m saying is sometimes you’d come on here and think the Hawks are garbage. they are not. enjoy the ride, man.

@tbhawks: i once did a story about that issue (the context was people dogging Shaq for dogging it at times). talked to exercise physiologists, sports psychologists, trainers, coaches, players, etc. all of them disagreed with you. guys play 100-plus games if they make a deep run, and there’s just no way to always be up physically and mentally. these guys are incredible athletes but they are also human.

and tnx for all the love, but i’m no sekou. i know he’s a hawks blog legend.

Daniel

January 25th, 2010
10:56 am

Fundamentals- your 8:30am comments are right on the money.
Michael- you are doing a great job, as you can also tell having covered the Heat, we as a fan base don’t know how to appreciate winning yet either.

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
10:59 am

Astro Joe

January 25th, 2010
10:45 am

Excellent comments.

Michael Cunningham

January 25th, 2010
10:51 am

Great post

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
11:05 am

Fundamentals & Daniel

The Woody detractors know not to post a so called “better alternative”

Ken Strickland

January 25th, 2010
11:08 am

We’re at the midseason point in the season and I’m very proud of what the Hawks have accomplished so far. They’ve done an excellent job of overcoming some shortcomings and liabilities to become a serious regular season player in the East. Even though I’m a big Woody distractor, I wouldn’t recommend firing him at anytime during the season. After all, it would be unfair to the new HC and our players, because it’s too late to install a new OFF/DEF system and get everyone successfully acclimated to it.

While Woodson and his coaching philosophy and approach towards young players aren’t a good overall fit for this team, he has managed to avoid distracting the team from it’s goal of winning and improving through ORGANIC IMPROVEMENT. However, there are areas where he’s been a hinderance to the effort, like our PG situation, halfcourt OFF, and slow to no reaction to utilizing strategy to respond to adjustments or creating, utilizing and taking advantage of both favorable and unfavorable matchup situations.

I find it strange how some Hawk fans can list the teams acievemens and current position in the Eastern conference, or the NBA, point to our annual increase in wins or just claim we have a winning record as their justification for supporting Woodson, yet citicize JJ without acknowledging his contributions.

How in the hell can anyone claim Woodson is more responsible for the teams progress and current status than the player that’s been the on the court leader, and the teams leader in scoring, assists, DEF and versatility. ANYONE THAT CAN FIND REASONS TO CRITIZE BIBBY, JJ, MARVIN, HORFORD, SMOOVE, AND NOT WOODSON, OR GIVE CREDIT TO WOODSON FOR THE TEAMS PROGRESS, WHILE REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS, ARE DELUSIONAL AND HAVE SERIOUS REALITY BASED ISSUES.

Melvin

January 25th, 2010
11:19 am

Hawks Blog Mid-Season report.

28 – Woody COY
14 – Fire Woody

I prefer Woody COY bandwagon…

Najeh Davenpoop

January 25th, 2010
11:30 am

There isn’t anyone out there right now who isn’t coaching an NBA team who could come in today and turn these Hawks into something significantly better. For that reason alone saying Woody should be fired is absurd. When you fire a coach, you better have a better replacement in mind, or else you end up doing what the Falcons did, firing a decent Dan Reeves for a terrible Jim Mora. Yes, Woody has a lot of room for improvement, but the record and the number of quality wins show that he has done a good job this year.

Dwayne

January 25th, 2010
11:40 am

JJ is the most underated player in the NBA. Still not respect for the Hawks, AI an all-star starter, you have to be kidding. Yeah, I know, the fans vote, they must be retarded too. The poll about JJ was in SI. So, its not just my opinion. Go Hawks….will the curse of Dominique be lifted this year????

O'Brien

January 25th, 2010
11:43 am

Melvin,

I am NOT on the “Woody COY” or “Fire Woody” bandwagon lol. I am on the “Keep Woody, but make him hire an OC, and hope Woody learns how to make adjustments” bandwagon.

AJ,

Very good point about where the Hawks rank payroll wise. If I’m not mistaken, the Hawks payroll is about $65 mil or so (and that should include Chills cap space, although we are getting nothing from him).

Cleveland, Boston and Orlando are all close to $80 mil. Imagine what the Hawks could do with another $15 mil? We could resign JJ, sign Marcus Camby this offseason (ZaZa seems more inconsistent this year), and bring Chills back.

Najeh,

The only 2 available coaches who MIGHT be a better choice than Woody is Byron Scott and Avery Johnson. But it might be that the grass seems greener on the other side too. Because there is no guarantee that these guys could help the Hawks take the next step. If we fire Woody, there is a possibility that we take a step back.

And based on where the Hawks are, only 3 games out from being #1 in the East, Woody should stay. After all, its hard to argue with the “nimbers” (shout out to ‘Nique).

MSDawg

January 25th, 2010
11:58 am

Too many of ya’ll forget where we were as a team 4 or 5 years ago, and how horrible the Hawks were. Look what Woody and the team has done. I am excited to be where we are and continuing to get better little by little. So don’t be overly critical and enjoy watching the Hawks win games and compete.

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
12:05 pm

O’Brien

Didn’t AJ’s players in Dallas stop responding to him after 2 seasons. Also didn’t the same thing happen with B.Scott. Woody’s been here 6 season, and the team still haven’t tuned him out.

Those of you complaining about an offensive system ask Plip Saunders and Mike D’antoni how are those great systems without KG Spree & Sam and Nash, Amare, & Marion.

Also ask PJax how great the triangle was without Pau or Shaq?

Woody has his flaws, but he’s doing more with less. That makes him a good coach with room to improve.

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
12:08 pm

Flip Saunders my bad

JeJe

January 25th, 2010
12:11 pm

Lol @ Hawks being the best in the East.

We lost both games to Orlando by 238236 points, lost both games to Cleveland that we should’ve won (don’t give me that Refs Suck BS), and have lost twice at HOME to the Knicks.

We are a 2nd tier team. We are good but not great, and we are not bad.

doc

January 25th, 2010
12:12 pm

najeh, at times we think retreads are not capable. maybe you wouldnt have considered rick carlisle but look at his record:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Carlisle

not bad, in fact really good. i assure you there are guys out there that can coach if it is necessary, some even with rings on their fingers. not saying woody should go, just saying there us often more that meets the eye hen coaches lose their jobs.

personally, the carlisle selection surprised me when he was chosen as the guy at dallas. my problem was i tended to remember him only for his most recent failure at indiana rather than the sum of his work. mavs are looking pretty good right now to justify his selection. there is someone else out there that can coach this team as well if not better. yes, it is a roll of the dice, so maybe is staying with woody.

Ramon

January 25th, 2010
12:14 pm

The thing I appreciate the most about Woody (even though there are many times when I say he made a stupid decision here and there) is that he’s brought RESPECT to the Atlanta Hawks. No matter how you look at it, or how you break it down, its his coaching that has the NATIONAL media respecting the Hawks now. For 4-5 years straight, ESPN would only say the Hawks name two-three times a year (1- draft day, 2- trading deadline, 3 – Josh Smith Dunk Contest). Now the Hawks actually are leading Sportscenter on a weekly basis. In the last year and a half, how many times have you gone to CNNsi.com and saw a picture of the Hawks as the lead story on the NBA page? No matter how you look at it, Woody’s coaching is providing that. Right now who would you think is doing the best coaching job? Woody or Van Gundy? Van Gundy has 4 all stars on his roster, yet for the last week when he looks at the standings he stills see Atlanta Hawks before he sees Orlando Magic.

Astro Joe

January 25th, 2010
12:30 pm

OB, money buys talent (players and coaches). I think one of the safer bets is that the NBA Finals will feature two teams that are paying the luxury tax. A person who makes that bet over the next 5 seasons (including this season) will win FAR more money than they will lose.

Astro Joe

January 25th, 2010
12:43 pm

BTW, I think that in the past 5-6 years, Byron Scott, Sam Mitchell and Avery Johnson each won COY. So I wouldn’t exactly consider that the clear indicator of who is considered a great coach. COY are coaches who deliver a big jump in victories, not the guy who shows steady year-over-year improvement.

GeeMack

January 25th, 2010
12:49 pm

doc

Rick Carlisle is a very good coach, however Woody haven’t done anything to warrant a coaching change.

It’s one thing to take a winning team & keep winning. It’s a whole another story to take it from an ownership fueding, losing franchise to a respectable winning franchise again.

During the off season the Hawks will chose if they want to be like the Dallas Mavericks or the LA Lakers. The Mavericks are ok winning 50 games and playing in the post seasons each year. The Lakers are not happy unless they are winning championships.

Astro Joe

January 25th, 2010
1:34 pm

GeeMack, I think that the Lakers have the highest paid coach and the highest payroll (and probably the most expensive seats). It’s nice to talk about winning championships but most true contenders have a revenue base that enables ownership to spend top dollar.

cdog

January 25th, 2010
1:36 pm

ALL I CAN SAY IS WOODY HAS THE HAWKS IN FIRST PLACE IN THE SOUTHEAST. THAT’S MORE THAN I CAN SAY FOR BOBBY COX, MIKE SMITH AND THE COACH OF THE THRASERS. SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

cdog

January 25th, 2010
1:41 pm

JOSH SMITH WILL DOMINATE RICK CARLISLE OR VAN GUNDY. WOODSON IS THE ONLY COACH WHO CAN MOLD HIM.WE HAVE OUR COACH IN WOODSON. I DON’T HEAR NO ONE TALKING ABOUT COX OR SMITH BEING FIRED. NEITHER ONE OF THEM HAD THEIR TEAMS IN A PLAYOFF. SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM.IF I RECALL CARLISLE AND VAN GUNDY WERE FIRED AND STILL IS NOT COACHING. WOODY IS AND HAS HIS TEAM IN FIRST PLACE SO LEAVE HIM ALONE

theZaZaguy

January 25th, 2010
1:47 pm

The Dominique curse yes. But I think Cliff Levingston is the bigger curse.

The national media is serious gushing over us now. It was either Rick Kamla or Brent Barry who said that Orlando and Boston will be afraid to play us come playoff time. Also, after the Phoenix win, the sportscenter anchor guy was saying how he felt vindicated for saying that the hawks are the best in the east.

This team makes me proud. I don’t think another coach could come in and do better (except maybe doc rivers or Randy Wittman). And we need an OC? Did anybody see the hawks pick apart the best defensive team in the league Friday night like they were playing a bunch of 12 year olds?

Melvin

January 25th, 2010
1:54 pm

“We are a 2nd tier team. We are good but not great, and we are not bad.”

Up until this blog, I would have never thought JeJe was a Hawks fan…

Sage of Bluesland

January 25th, 2010
2:19 pm

This is the NBA…so why does Woodson still have a job?

Must be best of buddies with Donny Waddel, who is unfireable.

Suckers.

Ken Strickland

January 25th, 2010
2:31 pm

I don’t see us making any trades, firing Woodson, or him making any changes or adjustments to his roster, starting lineup, or the way he coaches, like it or not. However, after the season ends, we can realistically discuss these issues. Woodson’s fate will be predicated on whether Sund places greater value on regular season or post season accomplishments. I don’t think he gave Woodson that last 2yr extension based on the teams regular season record(37-45), but rather the teams rousing performance against the Celtics in that 7gm series.

The question is, at seasons end, will Sund be satisfied enough with Woodson’s efforts to effectively coach the talent he’s provided him to it’s full ability. And, if we go through another close 1st rd series, or get eliminated, or another embarrassing and/or noncompetitive 2nd rd series or sweep, will he make his decision based on that. EITHER WAY, I’M GOING TO CONTINUE ENJOYING THE HAWKS AND THESE BLOGS MY FRIENDS.