Archive for April, 2010

Atlanta Hawks Squawks Game 6: Hawks 83, Bucks 69

MILWAUKEE– There were a lot of doubts about the Hawks but after this stirring W they deserve to squawk a bit. So let them.

– “It was gut-check time for us,” Al said. “It really defines what our team is about.”

– “When we play the right way, we can beat anybody,” Jamal said.

– “Everyone counted us out except the people in this locker room,” Smoove said.

– The Hawks finally asserted their will on the Bucks. They shared the ball and got open jumpers. They went inside when the advantage was there. And, most of all, they defended the hack out of the Bucks for long stretches.

– Milwaukee shot just 32.9 percent from the field, their worst shooting game of the regular season and playoffs. “What really won the game was defense,” J.J. said. “I don’t think we’ve been that active all season.”

– Give Woody credit. The Hawks started off showing and recovering on screens instead of switching. That left them vulnerable with Bibby on Delfino but the Hawks made it work.

– “We had to …

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Atlanta Hawks at Bucks Game 6: It’s Not Over

It wasn't too long ago the Hawks were in control of this series. Can they get it back?

It wasn’t too long ago the Hawks were in control of this series. Can they get it back?

So we know the reasons to doubt the Hawks can win tonight. But I keep seeing comments on this blog and hearing people on talk radio expressing a strange sense that they believe the Hawks will win tonight. They qualify their statements to say there are so many logical reasons for them not to feel that way but some kind of hunch tells them the Hawks will do it. The Hawks have been known to be unpredictable.

It’s not out of the question, of course. This is especially true if you still believe the Hawks, when playing to their full potential, are a better team than the Bucks. When the AJC’s Jeff Schultz cornered ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr. , the co-owner made the point that this was the overwhelming view after the Hawks won Games 1 and 2. Now the emotions have swung the other way, which happens in the playoffs. Combine those sentiments with the Hawks’ problems on the road, the Game 5 meltdown, …

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Atlanta Hawks: Why They Need ‘Zo


(Note to my blog people: I wrote this back when I got on the beat in January but decided I didn’t have the cred to put it out then. I thought about freshening it up and posting it after Woody blew up at that shootaround in Milwaukee but decided to wait. Now after what happened to the Hawks in Game 5—beforehand the game I was taken aback at how nonchalant the players seemed in the locker room before such an important night—I decided now might be a good time to post this and see if it still holds up. It’s what I wrote back then except for editing a couple spots where I couldn’t think of the right word or hadn’t yet looked up some factual details at the time.)

I’ve been covering the Hawks for only two weeks. That’s not nearly enough time to form definitive opinions about the team, but readers have been asking me what I think the team needs to put it over the top. So with the caveat that I haven’t been around that long, I will draw on my experience covering the …

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Atlanta Hawks Squawks Game 5: Bucks 91, Hawks 87

Woody didn't help his case in Game 5.

Woody didn’t help his case in Game 5.

– So it’s come to this for the Hawks: Woody invoking his days in Detroit, when the Pistons won a Game 6 at New Jersey and then clinched the series at home in the East semifinals. “We’re a long ways away from Detroit, I know,” he said. “But that’s how guys have got to think.”

– They can think it, and maybe that’s all they have to go on right now, but it doesn’t make it true. That Pistons team was led by tough-minded veterans. They’d already been to the East finals. They played defense with zeal in a system they were committed to. They shared the ball on offense and didn’t have a star who dominated the ball.

– The Hawks are nothing like that. They are facing elimination by a six seed missing its two best players and run by a rookie point guard. And they got to this point with a collapse that I’d call incredible except I saw similar Hawks folds so many times down the stretch.

– The only remarkable part about this one was it happened at home, …

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Bucks at Atlanta Hawks Game 5: Quiet At Home

The Hawks like it here.

The Hawks like it here.

So how much conversation has there been among the Hawks regarding the rumors swirling around Woody’s future with the team?

“That’s the first I’ve heard about it when you told me,” Al said today at shootaround.

In addition to illustrating the often-insular world players occupy, the lack of buzz on the team about Woody’s status demonstrates that the familiar postures haven’t changed.

Rick Sund still is not going to do address Woody’s deal until after the season and there’s no guarantee an offer (even a “low-ball” one as described in the Yahoo! report) is forthcoming. ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr has suggested the Hawks’ postseason will have a bearing on that decision and others. Woody isn’t happy the Hawks haven’t started contract talks and has said so (though he also says he wants to return). The Hawks believe the lack of an extension hasn’t hurt Woody’s ability to coach the team.

The news to come out of the Yahoo! report is that there could be another job …

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Atlanta Hawks Squawks Game 4: Bucks 111, Hawks 104

– So which one of these teams is the experienced playoff group? Which one has a rookie running point? Which squad has guys who don’t seem to know it’s going to be more physical in the playoffs, especially on the road?

– “It is frustrating, man,” J.J. said. “It just seems like we don’t have the toughness. They were coming up with all the loose balls, and all the big rebounds. We couldn’t get stops when we needed to. It’s killing us.”

– The Hawks competed better in Game 4 than in Game 3 but it’s not like they could be much worse in that regard. They couldn’t overtake the Bucks because rookie Brandon Jennings had his way with them.

– Jennings has figured out the Hawks’ switching defense. If he wasn’t making jumpers, he was slithering to the rim to score. If he wasn’t doing that, he was dropping it off in the paint for teammates. And if that wasn’t there, the Bucks worked the ball around the perimeter, where Delfino inevitably was standing wide open to catch a pass for a 3.

– …

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Atlanta Hawks at Bucks Game 4: Mind Game

Can the Hawks put an end to this? (Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Can the Hawks put an end to this? (Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MILWAUKEE– No deep analysis necessary for this one. Basically Game 4 will show us what the Hawks are about. Are they mentally tough? Do they have pride? Are they for real?

They’ve said the right things about being embarrassed by what happened in Game 3 and vowing to respond this time once they get challenged but right now the Hawks are in a show-me state. That’s what happens when you get blown out on the road by a team you handled at home. The game was barely four minutes old, the Hawks down just 14-5, and Smoove knew they were in trouble.

“It felt like in the huddle we was down by 20 in the fourth quarter,” he said. “It was only the first timeout. I could tell everybody was tensed up. I could tell we wasn’t having fun at that point and time and it carried on pretty much the whole game. We’ve got to be able to play loose and free, and not worry about what’s going on around us and play with a lot of …

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Hawks Squawks Game 3: Bucks 107, Hawks 89

Milwaukee– The Hawks got their butts kicked. The details of the beatdown seem almost inconsequential in light of the aggregate effect of this blistering in the Bradley Center. The Bucks never got it handed to them like this at Philips Arena, where at least they fought back when the Hawks blitzed them.

– Forget the Xs and Os for a minute and consider the Hawks’ lack of intensity and poise. “It’s unacceptable to get blown out like this,” J.J. said. “We’ll look at the tape and correct our mistakes but more than anything it’s about coming out and playing with more effort.”

– The Hawks spouted some of those playoff cliches: The Bucks simply did what they had to do, the Hawks still own homecourt advantage, they still have a chance to win Game 4 on Monday for a road split. All of that is theoretically true but have the Hawks shown an indication that they can find the mettle it will take to win the next game? It would have been one thing if the Hawks competed and lost …

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Atlanta Hawks at Bucks Game 3: By The Numbers

Oh, how I wish this was around back when I started my Iso-Joe count.

As I stated at the time my goal was to try to create some good data to better illuminate the debate on isos so arguments could be based on statistics rather than perceptions. Not to say stats can tell the whole story of Isos or anything else–I’ve already said I initially underestimated the impact the isos can have on the Hawks’ psychology and chemistry–but the numbers obviously would be a tremendous analytical tool.

You might have noticed that I never did offer my final Iso-Joe count. That’s because there were three games or so where I wasn’t confident about my count and I couldn’t go back and check it due to problems with my garbage Comcast DVR. I heard Synergy Sports was going to offer a public version of the software it provides for teams soon. So I decided to wait until it was online so I could get an accurate count of J.J. isos, and not just for the games I counted but the entire season. Plus I also …

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Atlanta Hawks: On The Road

Get it? (Gary Fewless/UWGB)

Get it? (Gary Fewless/UWGB)

I wrote a story about the Hawks’ road woes, trying to support my theory that the Hawks have played some of their worst road games against so-so teams in dead arenas. I’m thinking of those games at Milwaukee (the first time), Philadelphia, and Detroit and blocking out the games at Chicago (missing two starters) and New Jersey.

J.J. agreed with my take. Smoove kind of did. Al thought it was suspect because such things shouldn’t matter, in his view. Woody dismissed it like he has each time I’ve brought it up.

“I don’t look at it like that,” he said.

It’s something that’s pretty much impossible to prove but I just base it on feel. I see the Hawks ball when they are ripping and running at Philips and how the fans help them pull out Ws when they stall. Seriously, think of those times the Hawks have sagged at home, and then Jamal hits a 3 or J.J. sticks a fadeaway, and Smoove gets a block for a runout and everybody is going bananas. Suddenly, the Hawks …

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