Atlanta Hawks: Fewer Worries?

Three weeks and nine games until the regular season ends and the Hawks still have issues. But there also are a couple things you might have worried about a few weeks back that look more promising now.

First, though, the issues. Every team headed for the playoffs has them, of course, but the Hawks have more things to worry about than Cleveland and Orlando and maybe even Boston. Tops among them is that the defense just hasn’t gotten any better, ranking in the middle of the pack and threatening to finish at or near its pecking order in 2007-08.

Notice that Orlando, Boston and Cleveland are all significantly better defensively than the Hawks. Also note that potential first-round opponents Charlotte, Milwaukee and Miami are also better at getting stops. I’m still looking for evidence of the Hawks’ defensive disposition that I heard about before I arrived. I’ve simply not seen anything like the singleminded, obsessive defensive culture I witnessed with Pat Riley’s Heat. Now that I’ve been around for a decent minute I eventually plan to blog on why I think that might be and, no, that theory will not consist of “Woody sucks” with a period.

The Hawks likely are going to have to be much better defensively in the playoffs if they want to get through to the East finals. If you want to be optimistic and say they will get better at it, here are two issues you might have been gnashing your teeth over at one point that now look to be positives (at least to me).

Bibby might yet give the Hawks a lift. (Curtis Compton/

Bibby might yet give the Hawks a lift. (Curtis Compton/

Bibby is better

Have you noticed something different about Bibby?

“He’s had a little bit more bounce in his step and he’s been a lot more active,” J.J. said. “That makes us a deadlier team. I’m glad he’s been real amped up here at the end of the season.”

Look, I get the love for Rook’, particularly those who don’t necessarily want him to supplant Bibby but merely supplement him as a situational defender/pace pusher/drive-to-the-bucketer. But can’t we at least agree that even if Teague got more chances to do those things, it’s still more important for the Hawks that Bibby be Bibby?

Remember, the Kings won 61 games and went to the Western Conference finals (where they got jobbed) only after they got Bibby. I’m not saying he’s still that player, of course, but the guy has played in 69 playoff games. He wants to win. He knows how to do it.

Yes, Bibby can be a liability on defense even with the switches. That’s not going to get better at this point. At least Woody gives him the hook when it becomes too hard to hide him. But Bibby has been and can be a great asset in the playoffs with his spot-up shooting, leadership, vet savvy and a good sense of how to keep his teammates happy and involved. He’s more assertive and consistent now.

“I know coach cut my time down but I figure when I am out there I need to, as best I can, get aggressive,” he said. “I think it makes it easier on everyone else if I get involved and make things happen for myself and the team.”

This is good.

The bench is better

Whether your complaint was that Woody didn’t use his reserves enough, didn’t use them correctly during the flow of the game, that the bench guys weren’t producing when he did give him a shot or all of the above. . . lately those concerns should have subsided if not retreated.

Mo’s minutes are up in March. So are Zaza’s. Even Teague’s minutes have managed to pretty much hold steady even as the playoffs approach. Joe Smith might be another matter but, hey, everybody can’t play.

The reserves are playing consistently now, and Woody has said all along he would use his them more if that happened. For a while it seemed to be a chicken-and-egg deal with “minutes” as the chicken and “production” as the egg with some circular logic taking hold. But now the chicken and egg appear to be in harmony and–behold!–a rotation with defined roles and expectations has been born.

The development has helped to create cohesion and chemistry with the reserves. The starters, too, seem to get energized by watching the subs do their thang from the bench.

“The talk with the second unit is to have fun,” Zaza said. “If you are paying attention, you see after every made bucket it is high-fives. We really don’t care who is going to score. We all know Jamal is the go-to guy (but) we share the ball. We try to have fun. If we make mistake, we just keep playing and bring the energy. As a team, we benefit for that.”

This, too, is good.


127 comments Add your comment

Hawk n the Ham

March 29th, 2010
6:51 pm

It’s a wait and see act with Woody and the bench come playoff time. Last year during the Heat series, most of the games were tight. Which in turn, Woody rode the starters hard during that series. If the 1st round is anything like last year, Woody will skip quality bench time, and the starters will be wore out if and when, they make it to the 2nd round. Only time will tell.


March 29th, 2010
6:52 pm

Things I would rather do than watch Marvin play:

French Kizz a Grizzly bear

Kick a Bull in the ballsac

Watch 2 Hippos deepthroat each other


March 29th, 2010
6:55 pm


Ree Roe

March 29th, 2010
6:58 pm

Great article as usual MC. Our defense, especially our transistion defense, has been problematic these past few months. From what you’re seeing is our defense struggling b/c of our switching, bad rotations or just lack of effort/intensity? We’ve only got 9 games to get it figured out…

BTW, what are we gonna do about Marvin? I kno I’m one of the main ones to clown on Marvin, but just to be serious for a second, has Woody run out of things to say to Marvin? Is it a mental thing with him? What do you think we need to do to get Marvin playing at a high level goin into the playoffs?

-REElent to Roe!!!

Ree Roe

March 29th, 2010
7:02 pm

@ Hawk N the Ham, most of the games in the Hawks/Heat series last yr were tight? Huh? What series were you watching? All of those games were decided by double digits & except for a few stretches, they weren’t close games at all.

-REEticulate it for Roe!!!


March 29th, 2010
7:02 pm

i don’t see it happening..if we have not seen it during the season,we won’t see it come playoff time..
what we will see is:
a tired starting 5 by the 3rd game of the 1st round..
the bench will be a non factor..starters will get 35+ minutes each..well,bibbs and marvin will hover around 30-33..but,thats its..look for a 7,maybe 8 man rotation..

players we won’t see during the playoffs play”
randmo,collins as usual…
players who we might see every 2 games will be:
teague,west,while joe smith and mo evans alternate every other game and will be the 8 player to play..

tired legs will show up after game 3 in the 1st round if not sooner..
and woody will be out of here no more than 48hours after we’re knocked out of the playoffs..

Hawk n the Ham

March 29th, 2010
7:06 pm


Yes, I was being a bit sarcastic on Woody. Sorry, I should have used some kind of cute little emoticon at the end of my sentance.

Rod from College Park

March 29th, 2010
7:18 pm

Ree Roe,

BTW, what are we gonna do about Marvin? I kno I’m one of the main ones to clown on Marvin, but just to be serious for a second, has Woody run out of things to say to Marvin? Is it a mental thing with him? What do you think we need to do to get Marvin playing at a high level goin into the playoffs?

Ducks don’t become eagles. His playoff averages are much worse than his season averages. Teams might actually defend him in the playoffs.


March 29th, 2010
7:35 pm

The Hawks will be BETTER defensively, I know this because the players love to be on the center stage, and WE can beat anyone at home. The question is, can we beat any of the big 3? I say YES. Last year, Horford and someone else (BRAIN FOG) were injured which was why we got swept. As long as we’re healthy, I think we can take Cleveland and/or Orlando to six games, maybe more. We took Boston to 7 games and they were the eventual champs. The Lakers didn’t even take them to 7 games!

Tony from Stone Mountain

March 29th, 2010
7:45 pm

If Marvin was to show up in the playoffs. The Hawks would be deadly. I say call a sports psychiatrist. It worked for John Smoltz.


March 29th, 2010
7:55 pm



March 29th, 2010
7:56 pm

Who do the Hawks want in the first round?

Charlotte, Milwaukee or Miami


March 29th, 2010
7:59 pm

I just don’t see this Hawk team making it past the 2nd round unless we get the 2rd seed, and Orlando is shocked in the 1st round. This team has not figured out how to win on the road even against some of the bottom feeders (ex: @Knicks @Philly). And possibly even worse than that we can’t close out games on the road. @Miami, @Golden State @Toronto @Milwaukee All recent games where the Hawks held a 10+ point lead late and just totally blew it. I’m fully expecting our 1st round series to go 7 games no matter who we play.

Astro Joe

March 29th, 2010
8:06 pm

Anytime someone says around here “well, let’s see what happens during the playoffs” that should be translated as “I have no criticism now but I refuse to say something positive. Additionally, I reserve the right to complain later”.

@MC, thanks for pointing out some of the improved trends, some folk watch every game and can’t see it unless they read it in print.

Ree Roe

March 29th, 2010
8:24 pm

Good points Astro

@ UGA, personally I don’t care. The Hawks should beat whoever they play in the first round. I’m more concerned about us playing & competing at a high level entering the playoffs.

-REEpeat it to Roe!!!

Delbert D.

March 29th, 2010
8:27 pm

Let Marvin be the designated hacker and Zaza can get more rebounds


March 29th, 2010
8:30 pm

I agree.
I just know Miami has only lost twice this month. That and Wade could be too much for the Hawks. The Bucks should lack the experience in the playoffs.


March 29th, 2010
8:32 pm

I have been calling for Teague to get more PT (especially in the second half of the game). However, I must agree that Bibby has looked much better of late. And we will need Bibby in the playoffs.

Our players dont give the consistent effort needed on defense. I dont know if they are tired, I dont know if they are not communicating, I dont know if they are in a hurry to get back on offense.

But with Woody being a defensive minded coach who continually preaches defense and rebounding, it is disappointing to see our defensive struggles.

We give up lots of points in the paint, and we are not consistent rebounders. I hope that once we get to the playoffs, our increased intensity and focus plus the fact that there are no back to back games will improve our defense.

Our bench has played better recently, and Woody has given them more PT. I hope both parties will continue to do what they are doing.

SWAT Native

March 29th, 2010
8:37 pm

I would like to add that I think that the string of down to the wire games is going to make the Hakws that much tougher for their playoff run.


March 29th, 2010
8:41 pm

naw can you say that when you ask for a specific kind of player and he brings in players who fit the bill,and you don’t play them..then,we will never know if they fit or not..
sund is not billy knight and i think billy knew best..thats probably why he he refused to draft a top notch PG,like a derron williams,CP,or others..because he knew woody would not and does not have the patience to coach a rook..
look at his poor job with teague..these players go off in the post season and work with other former players and other coaches..


March 29th, 2010
8:41 pm


You can’t be serious? Vanardo or Chism? 1st round?
Surely you mean’t 2nd round?
I like Vanardo, just not in the 1st round.
Do you realize Sherron Collins:[(5-11 ?) is 215 lbs.] [JV 6-9/210.]

For those who think Marv has zero trade value – I disagree!
He, for his age, actually has a good contract.
He & Josh Childress if ‘He’ wishe to return, could both be trade chips.
Because J.C. would have to be a sign & trade, I do not think he could be included with another player in a package.


March 29th, 2010
8:47 pm

fire woody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Billy D

March 29th, 2010
8:48 pm

You wrote about the bench being better and didn’t mention Crawford once. Without JC the bench scores about 10-15 points. Jamal’s 18 a game is such a convenience and all other opponents do fear when he comes in and is just another offensive threat. Without JC not only is the bench signifantly worse, the team is.


March 29th, 2010
8:50 pm


Who would trade for a SF (Marvin) who makes over $7 mil annually, and does not do anything well? Name me 5 teams for which Marvin would start right now.

And which team would want to pay him that much to be a bench player?

And I assume northcyde meant second round for Varnado. First round, we could use a backup SF (assuming we dont resign Chills). I think Paul George would be an option. If the big guy from Kansas falls, maybe he could be a first round option too.

My 3 Cents

March 29th, 2010
8:52 pm

The Hawks Defense is a screen switching weak side helping zone covering scheme that has WORKED for the most part. The Hawks will be a 50 win team by April 15th. They have a Payroll ranked 22nd. The attendance although still a huge ISSUE, is better than it has been the last 5 years. No matter how much we want them to win a Championship, they probably have no chance. NOT because Woody is bad Coach or Bibby cant play D. The word is MONEY. The NBA is a controlled marketing machine. King James had a total of THREE fouls through 3 games last year against the Hawks in the playoffs. The NBA wants to and will market Kobe Lebron and D Howard. They really have no choice given the Economic situation we are ALL in. Fire Woody?? for what? Great players make GREAT coaches. We are a bad defensive team?? So What?? Im just Happy to call them my home TEAM compared to 6 years ago. Then Maybe in a couple years the League will be able to Crown a Champion based on The Best Wins!!!


March 29th, 2010
8:59 pm

It’s FEWER worries. LESS worry would be okay.

Like fewer dollars, less money.

Or, fewer writers, less journalism.


March 29th, 2010
8:59 pm

Joe Mama/Sybil/Truth Serum:

In all seriousness & with all due respect;
[other than his percieved lack of shot blocking(in your eyes)]
what is it about Al that causes you to loathe him so vehemently.
The rest of the clear thinking basketball world almost unanimously
endorses him as one of the top 5 ‘young’ players in the league
regardless of position.
C’mon now, not a lot of blather, here’s your chance for a serious
answer. I expect, you to do well. [Don't just copy & paste]
formulate & articulate. You’re a bright guy. I have faith in you.


March 29th, 2010
9:06 pm

Hawks fans,

Y’all crazy, man!


March 29th, 2010
9:09 pm

I think we need to get Darington Hobson in the draft

I’m pretty sure he’s already better than Marvin

Mike is Back

March 29th, 2010
9:23 pm

@MC, true on your assessment of Bibby impact on the playoff and recent resurgence…I think the limited minutes gave him a chance to get some stamina back. He’s looking frisky lately…that alone could help with the defense.

I think the things that causes the biggest breakdown on defense…is the long jump shots when teams go to zone on the Hawks. That is something that can be improved upon before the playoff.

Getting Marvin going or knowing that there is a back up plans for Marvin is my biggest concern. I would rather see Moe given a shot instead of playing too many minutes with Bibby and JC on the floor together…it puts too much pressure on the front line guys on defense.

Woody is making some moves…they are starting to get some cohesion…I think he will come up with some wrinkles for the playoff.

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


March 29th, 2010
9:36 pm

Here is a list of teams Marv could start for:
As I’ve said many times I think Marv will flourish under a dif. coach.

*Probably would start.
**Got money to take on contract.
***loking for a [3].
****Marv would thrive playing for this team’s coach or system.
*****team getting old/needs younger, less expensive players.

Lakers** [plus-system/triangle/Jackson]
New Jersey*
Minnesota***actively looking to trade for a [3]
New Orleans*
Milwaukee [Salmons has a player option ???]
SA Spurs [****] & [*****]

The draft & other criteria would impact this list of course.


March 29th, 2010
9:57 pm

Mike Bibby is a saint! And thank you MC for finally giving him some respect!

Section 303

March 29th, 2010
10:08 pm

I’ve never understood the Bibby bashing. It was almost as if some were waiting for him to go into a cold spell and then pounce. A self fulling prophecy, if you will.

Looking at the potential playoff opponets for round one, got me thinking. The talking heads can stop now the the NBA East sucks line. It doesn’t suck. There are no teams in the league that would lineup to play the Bucks or Bobcats right now. These teams are the 5th and 6th seeds. So, these lazy commentators need to get a new story line. I’m not sure if the East is better than the West. If it isn’t, the gap is not that far between the two.

Looking forward to the Laker game on Wednesday. Always one of my favorite games of the year. After that, would just assume fast forward through the rest of the season and get to the good stuff! Almost playoff time, everyone!

Atlanta Fawks

March 29th, 2010
10:13 pm

So I noticed in the Hawks playoff ads the Cavs, Celtics and Heat. Too bad we won’t see any of those teams since we will be ousted first round.


March 29th, 2010
10:24 pm


March 29th, 2010
10:35 pm

Grandad . . O’Brien . . . I meant who I meant.

Varnado . . in the 1st round.

6-9 . . . 210 right now, can easily turn into 6-9 . . . 220 – 225 by the time the season starts. His lack of size is not a concern, seeing that he’s going to be a situational player at best on the Hawks.

There is no doubt that with the rebounding and defensive difficlties this team has on the frontline at times, that they should either get a defensive center or a defensive PF.

The only issues that he’ll have in the NBA are:

a) Is he strong enough and have the DESIRE to battle in the NBA?

b) Does he have the lateral quickness to guard more perimeter-oriented PFs?

When Varnado goes to the combines, he’s going to measure long, and rate out to be an athletic freak when it comes to vertical jump and speed. His lack of strength will drive hs stock down.

But if he’s available in the late 1st round, you definitely take that guy if you’re the Hawks. We’re losing Joe Smith and have a team need for rebounding and could use another shot blocker.

We passed on Blair last year, because he was small and had a history of injury. LOL . . . Lord knows we could use a Blair on this squad right now, because he’s turned out to be the role playing BEAST that I thought he would. Jersey was stupid not taking him as a lottery pick, seeing that they had a glaring team need for a guy like that.


March 29th, 2010
10:39 pm

After seeing Joe’s two consecutive 3 point airballs ,I wondered if Joe had already put a for sale sign on his house?

Is Ed. Too.Tall. Jones. Too Tall?

Dezz Nuttz

March 29th, 2010
10:48 pm

Grandad You say you have faith in T.S., Joe Mama and some one name sybil who Ive never seen post on this blog page.

So here’s my question,I want you to give me an intellectual, honest answer.

If you have faith in T.S. and Joe Mama, do you also have faith in Dezz Nuttz? This is your chance for a serious answer. Dont just copy and paste but give me your deepest impression of Dezz Nuttz.
Youre a bright guy.


March 29th, 2010
10:52 pm

Shelden was strong as a ox, but he didn’t have the desire, nor the work ethic to be the type of dominant rebounder that he was in college. And his lack of athleticism got exposed BIG TIME on the NBA level.

As for drafting a SF . . . where is he going to play, especially if JJ is re-signed?

- Marvin will still be here
- Mo can play SF
- If JJ is here, he’ll get his share of minutes at SF

So where is a drafted SF going to play, and how many minutes can he possibly get on the Hawks next year?

A late 1st round rookie, more than likely, is not going to be able to displace one of our SFs ( even if Woody isn’t the coach here ). Unless you believe that the rookie could take Mo Evans spot? The time to draft a SF, will be in 2011, when we have to make a decison on Evans and possibly Crawford.

Dezz Nuttz

March 29th, 2010
10:55 pm

northcyde Thats a good strategy to take the focus off the need for a center by pretending as if josh is not an excellent defensive power forward. The only problem is every one knows josh is a top 7 shot blocking specialist who put fear into his opponents when he is near the rim. Unlike Horford who helps the opposition score by interlocking his finger while cupping his hands and giving spring lifts to itty-bitty guards so they can Dunk on his Aize.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2010
10:58 pm

“Here is a list of teams Marv could start for:
As I’ve said many times I think Marv will flourish under a dif. coach.”

That may be, but O’Brien’s main point is that nobody is going to pay him $7.5 million a year for the next 4 years, especially in this economic climate with a new CBA looming, to see if he might flourish in a different situation. Unless the Hawks trade him for an equally undesirable contract, like Hedo Turkoglu, or significantly sweeten the deal with first-round picks, Marvin is pretty much untradeable.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

March 29th, 2010
11:02 pm

Great article on Bibby, MC. Very well done.

Rod from College Park

March 29th, 2010
11:04 pm


I see you stopped taking your meds. Marvin would not start for any of those teams. Maybe the Nets, I doubt that. I think Yi is a better prospect. At l

Michael Cunningham

March 29th, 2010
11:12 pm

@ Ree Roe: re: defense . . . imo, it’s just been effort and focus. from my subjective observation i’d say one thing the Hawks are not good at on D is closing out on shooters. when i see them struggle with it it’s because they are late to recognize the rotation and, once they do, just not very urgent about getting out.

re: Marvin . . . good questions. what can Woody do? when he said some guys just need to find answers on their own i’m guessing Marvin is included in that group.

@ cdog: i wouldn’t say it the way you did but

@ AJ: this is a good team and there are legitimate reasons to think it can be better. part of the intrigue about this team is the unknown. with Orlando, Cleveland, and Boston we pretty much know who they are (if not exactly what to expect from Boston). i am looking forward to seeing what happens with the Hawks. they have something to prove but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

@ Billy D: true, i should have addressed J.C. i don’t really consider him to be a bench player in the traditional sense. he plays starter’ minutes and has a bigger role than Bibby. so when i talk about the Hawks’ bench i really mean everyone bur Jamal.

@ Mike is Back: good point on the saved energy for Bibby.

@ Zach: hey, i tend to give vets like Bibby the benefit of the doubt. i don’t think i really dwelled much on his struggles or criticized Woody sticking with him because so many times i’ve seen guys like him come around when it counts.

@ NRBQ: ha, nice. you are correct, i was wrong. fixed . . .


March 29th, 2010
11:21 pm

Watch Marvin’s interviews — listen to the rumors –> The guy does not want to be a star in this league. He is content with being average. He has no fire in his personality/game –> He doesn’t want the ball down the stretch. He doesn’t want plays run for him. He’s frail/awkward. He is not strong…He’s not a good defender.

he is the worst starting SF in the NBA, and Bibby is probably a bottom 5 starting PG


March 29th, 2010
11:53 pm


Those damned headline writers!



March 30th, 2010
12:08 am

From the last blog. northcyde I see your point. Chills was better coming off the bench than Marvin would have been. Chills finished the games so that’s all that mattered. O’Brien I understand what you’re saying about Marvin’s aggressiveness and etc from the last blog but I meant pressure more from a mental aspect I guess. This season Marvin is missing shots he routinely hit last season. Maybe he got his contract and got complacent or maybe he is trying to live up to it I have no idea at this point….And I wanted to grab Travis Outlaw for the cheap but northcyde made a great point about it being no spot for him if we bring Joe back because we also still have have Mo too. I’ve always liked Outlaws game. He does a lot of things I wish Marvin could do like create his own shot and finish at the rim with some authority.


March 30th, 2010
12:11 am

N.D.: There are alot of teams (and I checked) needing to get younger, that have much worse contracts than Marv. Guys, he is only ‘23′.
I realize the fan base has soured on him here.
I truly believe there will be coaches with egos big enough to say to themselves “I can get make that kid a player” and if you don’t think I’m right on that one then you don’t know the mentality & egos of coaches. look, I’m not even defending Marv anymore. But, he has shown enough in the past that he is tradeable. [think Jeff Francouer].
Not what we got for him, but he is tearing it up this spring. Sometimes, getting outa’ town, change of scenery is a tonic.

R.f.C.P. – I’m still on my meds & that is why I’m so lucid.
You should actually be with me on this one. What? Do you want him to stay now? All those teams had an asterisk indicating a level of interest
whether, financial, ageing team, looking for specific need, etc..
The Hawks are seen as an up and coming athletic team and Marv is a starter on our team. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so lets let
them behold.

If you could trade Marv & our pick to move up high enough to get X.Henry, you would do it wouldn’t you? All those teams I listed, were
potential trade partners. I never suggested Marv straight up for
Tim Duncan but I sure as heck would try to put together a package for Kevin Love. [Minn. is seeking a '3'] Perhaps Marv, + a drft pick,
+rights to J.C.,+ Zaza, whatever, You never know. Thats all I’m sayin’.


March 30th, 2010
12:16 am

*[J.C. = Josh Childress] / (NOT) J.C. – (JAMAL CRAWFORD) !!!


March 30th, 2010
12:19 am

Dezz – I asked you 1st.
I was treating you with respect.
Now, act like a gentleman, please.
I asked nicely.