Atlanta Hawks at Bucks: Too Much Fun Preparing For Games? (UPDATE: Crawford out with toe injury)

Woody's mad and Jamal is hurting. (AP Photo)

Woody's mad and Jamal is hurting. (AP Photo)

Milwaukee–(EDIT: Jamal Crawford (toe) is out. He said he hurt his right toe late in the Wizards game when (he thinks) big JaVale McGee came down on his foot while challenging a shot. He said he had turf toe during his New York days but that injury was “much worse” than this one. Crawford hopes to play Wednesday vs. Cleveland even if the game has no bearing on seeding for the playoffs.)

Tense scene at Hawks shootaround today. Woody was going over the Hawks’ defensive rotations and he felt some players were taking the lesson too lightly. So Woody told them in salty terms he didn’t see what was so funny considering opponents had been exploiting the Hawks’ in that very situation late in games.

Woody headed for the bus without talking to reporters. (Edit: In pregame Woody said: “That’s my time. That’s time for me and my staff. I don’t want to have to keep repeating myself because that means you’re not listening.”)

Clearly he’s not happy with the Hawks’ focus with game No. 81 tonight.

“That just comes with having a young team,” J.J. said. “Honestly that’s something we need to work on as players is locking in and having more attention to detail. Because that does come back to haunt us late in games.”

These things happen over the course of a long season, of course, but the circumstances had to bother Woody.

The Hawks are still playing for the third seed in the East. They aren’t a very good road team and have a tough task against the Bucks tonight, especially if with Jamal (toe) sits out. Leaving shooters open due to lax rotations has been an issue for much of the last half of the season–you only need to look back to the Wizards game Saturday to see how the Hawks can be nonchalant about rotating and closing out.

The Hawks seemed to take Woody’s blowup in stride.

“It can be tough late in the year like this,” Al said. “You don’t want to look ahead but you can’t help but look ahead at the playoffs. We have to do a better job as a team trying to key in and finish the right way.”

– The Bucks are 3-1 in games without Bogut. Old pro Kurt Thomas is picking up most of Bogut’s minutes and as pointed out by Charlie G., my old colleague at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Bucks are adjusting on the fly without Bogut:

“Bucks coach Scott Skiles has to do a balancing act with his lineup now that Bogut is absent and the team is relying on a center trio of Thomas, Dan Gadzuric and Primoz Brezec. At times, Skiles has elected to go with a smaller lineup, as he did in the fourth quarter Saturday with Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour, John Salmons and Jerry Stackhouse combining with 6-10 Ersan Ilyasova.”

Thomas is in his 15th season. Obviously there’s a dropoff from Bogut to Thomas in production, skill and size. But Thomas still is a pretty good pick-and-pop shooter
and a tough rebounder and post defender.

“He’s a very solid vet that knows how to play,” Horford said. “That’s the kind of guy you like to have on your team.”

Look for Al to take Thomas out to the perimeter, where he should have little trouble zipping by him.

– The only thing that can be settled for the Hawks in the playoff picture tonight is eliminating Charlotte as a potential foe. That happens if Miami wins at Philadelphia tonight to draw 3 games clear of Charlotte with each team having two more to play. Both the Bucks and Bobcats would win a tiebreaker over the Heat.

Jon Newberry at Hawksbasketblog breaks it down: “(T)here are too many possible scenarios of how things could shake out to go through them all. The simplest scenario is if we win our last two games against Milwaukee and against Cleveland and Miami wins their last two game. In that case the matchups would be ATL (3) vs. MIL (6) and BOS (4) vs. MIA (5).”

THHB has a poll up at Peachtree Hoops asking who Hawks fans would rather face in the first round. So far it’s the Bucks in a landslide.

MC

339 comments Add your comment

Billy D

April 12th, 2010
2:50 pm

It’d be interesting to see how the Hawks do without Jamal. Obviously they were pretty successful without him last year but, he’s become such a big part of the offense, I wonder if they’d be able to pull out a W anyway.

Any opinion on who you’d rather see in the first round MC? I personally would rather avoid Miami. They’ve had our number all season and D Wade scares me if he’s got revenge on his mind

Pepe

April 12th, 2010
2:56 pm

O'Brien

April 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

Crawford missed a game before the AS break (I think it was against Miami), and we struggled mightily, because we dont really have anyone on the bench to pick up the scoring. I’m sure Teague and Mo will give it their best, but against the Bucks, that will not be good enough.

However, if he’s hurting, I hope he sits out. Becuase I dont want it to get any worse.

I’m glad Woody is getting on these guys, because its not easy to turn it on once you get to the playoffs. I expect the Hawks to come put and play better and defend better. Because even if we have a scoring drought, there is no excuse for not defending and rebounding.

JeJe

April 12th, 2010
3:00 pm

LOL the reason players were joking around is because this team has no leadership. Smoove tries to be a leader but isn’t talented enough.

Everyone else in the rotation just doesn’t talk. Bibby is quiet — Marvin is quiet — Joe doesn’t talk — Horford and Crawford don’t talk. ZaZa is ZaZa. So WHERE’s the leadership? This team has no LeBron or Kobe or Wade or Garnett. All we have is Joe who doesn’t talk and Smoove who has enough concerns about his game to lead this team

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
3:00 pm

I can’t believe the people in that poll. They would rather face the Bucks? They must be out of their minds. I would much rather face the Heat. The Bucks will give holy h#ll to whoever they play in the 1st round.

Woody takes so much crap on here, but I love him. Good for him getting on those guys for going half-ars through the pregame. At somepoint, these defensive breakdowns we see stop being Woody’s fault and become the fault of the players. I truely believe Woody does all he can do to prepare these guys.

I do not like our chances tonight without Crawford. The Bucks do not have Bogut, so that even things a little, I think..

JeJe

April 12th, 2010
3:01 pm

If we did play Miami in the playoffs, then WOODY NEEDS TO LOOK AT THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE OF CRAWFORD DROPPING 50+ ON WADE. WHY DO WE NOT ISO CRAWFORD VS THE HEAT WHEN WE PLAY THEM?

Terry Stotts

April 12th, 2010
3:01 pm

ken

April 12th, 2010
3:06 pm

how is he gone get mad when its his fault they have exploited us at the end of every game… Coach that means your not doin your job by not making any adjustments. and who waits to the 81st game to try 2 change everything. if u dont have it by now your not going to get it

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
3:07 pm

My playoff tickets just arrived today! Who bought them? Need to fill the place and make it loud.

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
3:09 pm

ken, stop it. You really think there aren’t any adjustments made by Woody? You win 51-games and never make adjustments…right.

cp

April 12th, 2010
3:14 pm

Guys clowning around might explain why they have been so terrible defensively lately. The way they are playing on the defensive end they are going to struggle to beat anybody in the first round.

Michael Cunningham

April 12th, 2010
3:23 pm

@ Billy D (works every time): to me the Heat is the Bucks (dedicated defensive team) plus D Wade. so, yeah, i’d say it’s preferable to avoid the Heat.

@JeJe: you may be on to something with your overall point. but Bibby and Jamal aren’t quiet, and Smoove is good enough to be a leader. maybe he doesn’t have the accomplishments for it yet but he’s got the talent.

@Ken: it seems to me adjustments are exactly what Woody was trying to teach during the session today. if some players aren’t taking it seriously, how is that Woody’s fault? and this isn’t the first time it’s gone down like this, either–i’ve touched on Woody’s attempts to break through the Hawks’ collective lack of focus in previous blogs. sometimes it seems like Hawks fans, in their zeal to pin everything on Woody, let the players off the hook too easily. these guys are supposed to be pros.

jg

April 12th, 2010
3:25 pm

i think we have to avoid miami as well. it’s not because i don’t think we can beat them–it’s just that i think they have the talent to beat us in a 7 game series. almost happened last year and i’d rather see milwaukee without boget than the heat with wade, o’neal and the refs.

need to win tonight and have the celtics lose on tuesday and then use wednesday to rest jamal. he needs to play tonight–put the pressure on boston for tuesday and then rest up some folks on wednesday if we have the third seed locked up.

go hawks–put the bucks away early!!!

O'Brien

April 12th, 2010
3:29 pm

I give Woody a hard time, but to be fair, its not always his fault.

Although I am not a big fan of the switching defense when it gets abused and he makes no adjustments, the ineffectiveness is magnified sometimes because the PLAYERS are lackadasical on their switching, and dont close out fast enough. And how hard is it to get a hand up?

And just because the switching leaves our players out of position sometimes, there have been times when the PLAYERS dont give the necessary effort to secure the rebound, and there’s no excuse for that.

So its not always Woody’s fault. Players have to share some of the blame.

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
3:29 pm

Michael, I think you are still a little too much of a Heat fan. They aren’t that good. They are not close to the Bucks, unless Bogut is out. Hawks match up much better with the Heat.

Marcus

April 12th, 2010
3:40 pm

MC,
that caption/photo combo is funny.
Interesting times … cant rest the starters as we are still bucking for the No. 3 seed and the chance to avoid CLE if we make it to the 2nd round ….
WHO sends WHO a message tonight? Reading the game recap on ESPN, the C’s were trying to put something in the back of the minds of MIL w/trash talk and chippiness.

Big B CH 99

April 12th, 2010
3:49 pm

If some of the starters lack defensive intensity, sit them down for a few minutes & replace them w/ defensive guys (Ex. # 1 = Mario).

U don’t want to leave Mario out there for too long, b/c he’s a liability on offense, but it might send a message to the starters.

Michael Cunningham

April 12th, 2010
3:59 pm

@section 303: “still a little too much of a Heat fan.” dude, when was i ever a Heat fan? i’m a fan of no team except my Louisville Cardinals. saying the Heat is a tougher matchup for the Bucks is not an outlandish statement without support. you do remember that seven-game series last year, right?

this reminds me: i’m saddened by the state of discourse in this country. too many people have the attitude that if someone has a reasonable opinion that differs theirs it can only mean that person has some hidden agenda or bias or is just plain stupid. in this case, Section 303 thinks the Hawks match up better with the Heat and anyone who thinks otherwise is “out of their minds” or a secret Heat fan–and this while he acknowledges that the Heat is “close” to the Bogut-less Bucks. so if it’s close, what’s the problem with picking one over the other?

personally, i’m willing to consider that reasonable opinions different from mine are just that: reasonable opinions that differ from mine and may in fact turn out to be better. am i the only one left that feels this way?

@Marcus: yeah, got lucky and found the perfect pic.

newkid

April 12th, 2010
4:10 pm

MC,
Have you yet been able to discern if there’s a single Hawks’ player who takes on the disciplinary role with his teammates that Kobe takes with the Lakers, that Jordan took with the Bulls, that KG takes with the Celtics (remember Big Baby’s tears on the bench last year?), etc? Someone who implores his teammates to achieve what they won’t/can’t simply under the guise of the HC? With what, by some reports, appears to be such a ‘happy -go-lucky’ bunch, how far can this side be expected to go without this sort of teammate? Must we import a Chris Paul type take charge guy before we can expect our core to be ‘driven’ to the next level by a teammate, or is there someone amongst the current core who’s capable of taking on this role? If he’s already here, what’ll it take for him to step up?

D Hawks

April 12th, 2010
4:13 pm

It concerns me that this team needs to be lectured on their focus in Game 81. I blame team leadership, i.e. our wannabe max player JJ, rather than Woody. If the players don’t realize that the 3 seed is better than the 4 seed, it’s Joe’s job to convey that. He’s just not that kind of guy, and everyone in the NBA tends to follow the mood/tempo of their lead guy even more than the coach. In the ideal situation the coach sets the tone and the lead guy conveys it (see Kobe and LeBron).

The Hawks definitely need to play Mil rather than Mia because any team with a superstar on the floor can beat you in a short series.

D Hawks

April 12th, 2010
4:17 pm

Enter your comments here

D Hawks

April 12th, 2010
4:18 pm

I apologize for the last inadvertent submission :-)

dstdeelite

April 12th, 2010
4:18 pm

@MC……Totally agree…..

There is one thing that everybody has and that is an opinion.

Michael Cunningham

April 12th, 2010
4:33 pm

@newkid and D Hawks: you both make very astute observations about the role of players in leadership.yes, newkid, i believe i have been able to make that determination. i was going to blog on it after i was covering the team a few weeks but didn’t feel comfortable doing so. now i do, so watch for a blog on that topic tomorrow.

@destdeelite: it seems nowadays there is a reluctance to look critically at one’s own opinions. instead, much more effort is expended attacking those who disagree rather than thoughtfully considering their reasoned views or seriously thinking about why we believe what we do. this trend probably doesn’t matter much in sports–in the end they are just games–but it’s disheartening to see in other facets of society.

Mike is Back

April 12th, 2010
4:38 pm

MC, I don’t think you can seriously consider yourself a contender for the ECF if you are worried about who you play in the first round…However, if for some reason it worked out that the Hawks didn’t have to face the Heat in the first round…I doubt you would get any complaints in the Hawks locker room. lol

I think the Heat, the Bucks, and Bobcat are all good teams…they all will be a difficult draw in the first round…if I had to pick an opponent…I would have to pick the Bucks. It will be interesting to see how things unfold.

I think it was long over due for Woody to hold these guys more accountable for their listless performance in the fourth quarter. I think they need to win the last two games to build some momentum going into the playoff. Winning tonight in Milwaukee will go a long ways towards that. I will be looking to see if the Hawks can build off their last road victory…that has proven to be a difficult task for these guys.

Grandad

April 12th, 2010
4:40 pm

MC: Right on! [uh oh, I just dated myself with a 60's hippy expression]

It’s like Limbough, Hannity, the whole ‘Fox crowd’, “fair & balanced”,
yeah right!
The state of discourse in this country borders on anarchy.
Thank you for your remarks.

Grandad

April 12th, 2010
4:47 pm

Ken Strickland: [from last blog]

On S.P. – Amen brother.
See above comment on Limbough, Hannity, O’Riley, Beck, et al.
Honestly, I don’t see how some of their remarks are not considered
‘treasonous’.

SWAT Native

April 12th, 2010
4:47 pm

This blog confirms what I said yeterday: the Hawks are bored and ready for the playoffs to start, and this is why they have been playing down to their level of competition for the past few weeks. I’m glad that Woody responded the way that he did, because this is an important game tonight, both to send a message to a potential playoff opponent and to secure the third seed. I hope that Crawford plays.

Good point on the level of discourse, MC.

UGA

April 12th, 2010
4:48 pm

Hey MC, Read a rumor today that Mo Evans is going to opt out of his deal.

I thought his deal was a TEAM option, it must be a player option instead. Maybe it’s not true, maybe it is. We’d miss his toughness for sure.

If we did lose him, I’d love to see us add a scorer (like the Mike Miller we saw Saturday who is a free agent). We’d be very hard to zone with him, Jamal and Bibby in the game. But, may be easy to score on.

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
4:58 pm

Michael, my apologies…I will put myself in timeout.

Grandad

April 12th, 2010
5:04 pm

Tiger Woods:

Congrats on wi, what?, wait, he didn’t, never mind.

I’ll get back to you latr with a response.

I’m not ducking, I’m just outa’ time.
[Mrs. Grandad, requires my immediate attn.]

Excellent post by you, my good man.
Worthy adversary.
You may have misinterpreted my Bob Knight remarks – we shall see?
I have read “A Season on the Brink” @ least [3] times.
I watched that wretched movie [ESPN] once & that was [1] too many.
Also I have read @ least [12] books on or about BK. [more like 20]
I admire the man, yet, feel sorry for him. [misguided genius]
Explanation – later.

Too much to touch on, enjoy the game.

J.Cast

April 12th, 2010
5:06 pm

I don’t want Jamal to be out because 1) we’ll lose 2) Most importantly, he’ll come back out of rhyhtm like with his shoulder injury, or maybe this is different because it won’t affect his shooting, or will it? Was that a fragment? Did Woody slap Jeff? Why does Woody always single Marvin out, Marvin is good at Basketball.

SWAT Native

April 12th, 2010
5:24 pm

In case you guys don’t read other AJC blogs, the Bargain Hunter just listed a deal where you can get Hawks playoff tickets for the first round for 40% off with no TicketMaster fees through TravelZoo:

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-bargain-hunter/2010/04/12/40-off-hawks-playoff-tickets-free-glee-screening-aquarium-discount-for-volunteers-free-kids-golf-clinics/

VenomSpitter

April 12th, 2010
5:30 pm

I will say this season has been a roller coaster ride. So high Highs and so low Lows. But thankfully more highs than lows. I might come off like I’m always pissed at this team but I am proud of em. Lets just finish strong.

lewis

April 12th, 2010
5:54 pm

I said it a few days ago, i’ve felt it all season, Evans isn’t happy about the lack of effort by the young core of the team. its too inconsistent for someone that brings 100% everytime he is called off the bench. he’s better than marvin and doesn’t get used enough, why would he want to stay?
He would be a solid addition to most teams in the nba.

that description of attitudes could probably be used interchangeably in terms of Joe Johnson. Joe Johnson and Mo Evans are very serious about winning every single night, why would they want to be on a team with younger players / bigger contracts / no dedication? Joe doesn’t vocalize it because he doesn’t want to deal with the drama that comes along with constructive criticism, but inside he’s on fire and probably has plenty of things to say to the rest of the team. these are just assumptions, but you can almost see it in how they play. Joe Smith is another guy who can really help a team if they let him, but the Hawks younger players don’t seem to realize how much that dude knows about basketball, and they often (like today at practice) don’t seem like they want to learn.

Basketball is a game, and, treating it as such, the Hawks don’t always seem to take it seriously. its the stuff that’s not fun that wins you championships. No one likes to listen to coaches or teachers at the end of the season / semester, but if you want to win in the playoffs, thats what it takes. Not taking practice seriously is disrespectful not only to the entire organization, but to the players themselves. If you can’t take your job seriously, how are people going to take you seriously?

lewis

April 12th, 2010
6:02 pm

…and if you’re not taking the game seriously, players (possibly Mo / JJ) who do, are going to put themselves on a different team. A team whose players share that same serious mentality about playing and winning in the game of basketball.

money is unfortunately the biggest factor so we never really know the underlying reasons as to why players decide to stay or go

Woody

April 12th, 2010
6:15 pm

Im about to SLAP the shiet outta one you muthasugaaas!!!!! Keep on fuggin wit me!!!!

Justin

April 12th, 2010
6:15 pm

By far I prefer the Bucks to the Heat in round 1. The Heat almost beat us last year and they’ve been playing well the last few weeks, plus they have D Wade and beat us 3 times this year. The Bucks were a bit lucky to beat us one time and are without their best player, who happens to be a big. That gives us a huge advantage against them.

The Truth

April 12th, 2010
6:18 pm

Not sure about the source of the Mo Evans rumor but this is not the proper time to air out such dirty laundry. Mo Evans has his positive moments on this team but he is certainly replaceable. If he has a player option for next year, he is in his right to exercise that part of the contract. If his agent can work a deal that gets him a starter job (as a SG) for any of the elite teams above the Hawks than he should go for it.

tjhook

April 12th, 2010
6:21 pm

this disussion about who is the Hawks’ leader confirms why people would like to see Woodson relieved of his duties. Woodson should already have his sargeant appointed and barking directions to the remaining players. I thought that would be Bibby’s contribution to the club, but apparently that message has not been enforced enough. When your team is lacking effort, that sargeant barks out the reinforcement – even if they don’t always have the best ability, they show through determination and passion that effort will be present and easily identified. Woodson needs to challenge Joe to physically confront the players if he has the nerve to ask for franchise-player designated money because if Joe leaves, Woodson should leave.

Clyde

April 12th, 2010
6:23 pm

JeJe

April 12th, 2010
6:34 pm

JeJe

April 12th, 2010
6:37 pm

MC,

While I hear Bibby is a jokester, I hear he also doesn’t talk much. People say JJ is laid back. Wtf does that mean? Is the guy talkative or not? Hubie Brown said Jamal is very soft-spoken and quiet during the ATL/CLE game 2 weeks ago so I wasn’t sure. When I met him he was very nice.

Also, does anyone remember Sekou’s post 2 years ago about how we need a Ron Artest? It was February 2008 and he used some really weird word to describe a really powerful/beastly player the other team will fear and how the Hawks didn’t have one. I’ll look for it now

Melvin Flowers-Macon Georgia

April 12th, 2010
7:00 pm

Great Job Woody In 2010

But …………………………………The Hawks Needs A New Leader. Its Time To Move On We Thank You For The Time And The Many Years U Gave To the Hawks. The Hawks Needs A Leader That Would Push Them To Be A Better Team Than They Are Today. #1 How To Learn How To Win On The Road, Plus How To Finish a Game In The Final Qt.

lewis

April 12th, 2010
7:12 pm

anyone remember the hawks going 14-1 with Evans starting in place of Williams last year? …

Blast

April 12th, 2010
7:31 pm

Don’t fancy Hawks chances tonight if Jamal does not play.

Not suprised Hawks were not taking defence seriously. It’s caused them a bunch of games this season. And the problem always seems to start with the starters. The second unit plays far more aggresive defence. They also hustle for boards. In fact, the 2nd unit seems to play a different brand of basketball altogether. 1st unit thinks they can just sleepwalk through a game, and win.

Give me the Bucks anyday. When was the last time they made the playoffs? Let Miami and Celtics duke it out.

Go, Hawks!

Section 303

April 12th, 2010
7:36 pm

I think you are all getting carried away with this “Hawks need a leader” stuff. Someone mentioned how the Hawks do not have a Kobe, LeBron, or Wade to lead. What makes those guys good leaders? Just because they are good? Artest is a leader? Why? Because people are afraid of him?

The Hawks problem is maturity. That’s why they lose to a bad Piston team, a bad GS team, and a bad 76′er team. They think they can just flip a switch and start to play like an NBA title team. They can’t. I really do not think there is a team in the league today that can, frankly.

I also do not think any of us, including the hacks, know this team well enough to say who is a leader and who isn’t. Is Bibby? Is Joe? Who the F knows?

I do think Woody is a leader, though. We all love Josh Smith, but I would be willing to bet he would not be half the player he is today without Woody refusing to take his bullsh#t. And, I say again, good for Woody to blast those guys for not paying attention during a walk through.

A mature team comes out tonight and plays with great effort against a team they might play in the first round. Great time to send a message that they can beat the Bucks at home, on the road, on Mars, it doesn’t matter. But, these are the Hawks…we know what we will get. They lose tonight. We all know this.

Despite all that, I still say they will be ready to roll for the playoffs. I just hope it is not the Bucks they face. Matchup problems everywhere…

O'Brien

April 12th, 2010
7:51 pm

A leader does not guarantee that the Hawks wont lose to bad teams. After all, look how many games Boston has lost to bad teams, and KG is one of the leaders on that team.

However, for a young team such as the Hawks, it would be beneficial to have an emotional leader to help fire the younger guys up, and to help keep them in line.

But our leader JJ tries to lead by example, and Josh and Al are still young, while Bibby will be gone soon. So the team needs to help lift each other up.

northcyde

April 12th, 2010
8:00 pm

Will Teague rise to the occasion tonight? A good showing in this game can mean the difference between getting his 7 – 10 min per game in the playoffs . . . or Woody opting not to play him AT ALL.

And we don’t need you deciding to play ball when we’re already down 12 – 15 points. We need you playing ball in the 2nd Quarter . . or as in the case tonight, late in the 1st Quarter.

MAKE coach play you 20+ minutes tonight, because you are playing well . . . not because the game is a blowout ( in either direction )

Is it too much to ask of him to play like a BALLER in the 1st half of a game?

Is it too much to ask him to produce 5 – 9 FG . . 3 – 4 FT . . 1 – 2 3FG . . for 14 pts and 7 assists in 22 minutes of play?

Is that asking too much?

The Truth

April 12th, 2010
8:10 pm

Don’t misunderstand the leadership issue as it is more of a factor on the road. Boston Celtics has one of the best records in the NBA while the Hawks has one of the worst for the top 4 teams.