Atlanta Hawks: Game Matters (Update: Hawks Clinch Third Seed)

Shaq is back just in time for the Hawks. Well, maybe. (John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

Shaq is back just in time for the Hawks. Well, maybe. (John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)

(Edit: The Celtics lost at Chicago Tuesday, so the Hawks clinched the third seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Heat beats New Jersey at home tonight, then the Hawks would face the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. If the Heat loses and the Bucks win at Boston tonight, then the Hawks would face the Heat. If both the Heat and Bucks lose, then the Hawks would face the Bucks.)

So Shaq is cleared to play for the first time since Feb. 25 but that doesn’t mean he will return against the Hawks. Coach Mike Brown is tempted to play LeBron James, too, but that doesn’t mean he will give in:

“They probably wouldn’t play the whole game on Wednesday, so are we going to be that much better because they played 20 minutes together?” Brown said. “Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I keep going back and forth.”

If you’re wondering why Brown would even consider sending out either guy when the Cavs long ago clinched homecourt for eternity, the AP story sums it up nicely:

The Cavaliers have made major adjustments to their starting lineup twice this season—both spawned losing streaks. They lost their first two games of the season while working in newcomers O’Neal, (Jamario) Moon and Anthony Parker. They lost their first two with Antawn Jamison after he was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline.

Cleveland doesn’t have time for extended losing streaks in the playoffs while working O’Neal back into the rotation. The starting lineup Cleveland plans to use for the playoffs—Parker, James, Jamison, O’Neal and Mo Williams—were together for just three full games before O’Neal tore a ligament in his thumb on Feb. 25.

After the Hawks beat Milwaukee last night, Woody said he was inclined to send out his full lineup. But if the Celtics lose tonight and thus can’t catch the Hawks for the third seed, he’d have to reconsider, right? There’s the idea of taking momentum into the playoffs and also ending that nine-game losing steak to the Cavs, but the former is overrated and the latter wouldn’t mean very much if LeBron and/or Shaq doesn’t play.

Stay tuned, Hawks fans.

– I asked Mo about a DraftExpress.com Twitter post about him likely opting out of the $2.5 million he’s due on his contract next year:

“Obviously my focus right now is on the playoffs, and I’m excited about where we are headed as a team and looking forward to it. At the same time I’m excited about the possibilities of this summer. I’ve been on six different playoff teams where I’ve made an impact.”

Translation: Of course he will opt out. Why wouldn’t he? There certainly will be a market for a reasonably-priced player who might be undersized for forward but who can defend, likes to mix it up inside and has no fear of taking big shots. Mo, 31, most likely can get a longer deal on the market, if not from the Hawks.

Ken S. sent me a link for discounted playoff tickets the other day. I never got the chance to check it out to see if it’s legit and forgot about it (sorry) but I see super commenter Najeh Davenpoop and others also have found the deal. It must be for real, so here it is.

MC

175 comments Add your comment

Brian Asselstine

April 13th, 2010
5:39 pm

Tim Tebow's Tears

April 13th, 2010
5:44 pm

Deal is legit. I bought a couple tix for first two games

UGA

April 13th, 2010
5:54 pm

MC:
If Boston wins tonight, wouldn’t it be very important to beat the Cavs to avoid Miami??
I’m also assuming Boston will beat Milwaukee tomorrow as well.

I really like Mo and wouldn’t be surprised if he left. How would a Mike Miller fit in here? Not the defender but can score.

terrell

April 13th, 2010
5:55 pm

Same ole Hawks. Can beat anyone, but can lose to anybody. And I have to agree with Mo Evans comments last night. “This team has underachieved”. I said it a while back, and the Woody lovers started that “He’s won more games every year” crap. I commend Woody for what he’s done, but I dont think he can take us to the next level. He’s maxed out imo. Hope I’m wrong. And I know, I know, he’s won more games every year. Bla bla bla!

Daniel

April 13th, 2010
5:56 pm

Thanks for the link Michael. I might have to pick up another game or two.

Daniel

April 13th, 2010
6:05 pm

UGA- I LOVE the idea of a Mike Miller here. He would be a great SF off the bench (or starter if Marvin never shows up). He has a high BBall IQ and good team guy. I was really hoping Washington was going to buy him out this year and we could have picked him up.

Terrell- I don’t think that steadily increasing the win total is “crap”. I am not saying Woody is perfect, but Woody “can’t take us to the next level”, but Stan Van Gundy or Mike Brown can?? C’mon I would take Woody over either of those guys. Unless you are Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, Larry Brown (sorta), Doc Rivers (sorta) then you can say that about every coach. How would you feel about Jerry Sloan?

Ian

April 13th, 2010
6:16 pm

The Hawks still have a team here? I find it PATHETIC that there will be a playoff game either Saturday or Sunday and the game is not sold out. In fact they had a promotion that took 40% off of the price of some seats. How sad is that! Thank goodness we have the Braves and don’t have to deal with only this thug sport. Yes, the Braves have had issues at times selling out playoff games but at least they still had 45,000 or so. The Hawks can’t even fill up a 19,000 seat arena? Pathetic. Maybe giving tickets away or the promotion will help. Sad that the demand is so low.

terrell

April 13th, 2010
6:17 pm

Daniel, we actually had a better year last year imo, considering all the injuries. No injuries this year, the addition of Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and Joe Smith, Josh Smith maturing, Horford getting better, and all we can muster up is 5 more wins? Please! I stand by Mo’s comments. “This team has underachieved”. But I guess Mo doesn’t no what he’s talking about. I know how you feel about Woody, and you know how I feel. So I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

terrell

April 13th, 2010
6:19 pm

Ian’s an idiot! Thug sport? Wtf is that supposed to mean?

Section 303

April 13th, 2010
6:19 pm

Tim Tebow’s Tears, glad you will be there for the games this weekend. Philips needs to be rocking like it was the ‘08 series with the Celtics, again. Not sure I have ever been in a louder arena than those games.

Not sure where I stand on Mo Evens possibly leaving. I like him. He plays really hard. He’s tough. Guess I would rather have him than not have him, but not sure the Hawks will be willing to pay him as much as some other teams. He seems to be following the money (which I have no problem with), so there will be no loyalty to the Hawks discount, probably.

I am ready for the playoffs. Go Bulls! Would rather tomorrow night be just a formality and not a game with anything on the line.

UGA

April 13th, 2010
6:19 pm

Daniel:
Thanks for commenting.
Only other options I see at SF are Damien Wilkins, Rasual Butler, Travis Outlaw and maybe Jarvis Hayes.

I also wonder if Teague will get more PT/be improved or if we should get a Ridnour or Chris Duhon since they are Free Agents at year’s end.

I could just see this team being dangerous with Crawford and Mike Miller on the floor with Joe.

lewis

April 13th, 2010
6:22 pm

it doesn’t matter who plays for us if we can’t figure out how to use them. Guys who know their value don’t want to sit on the bench when they know they can have a bigger impact than the starters if given ample playing time. Mo Evans has proven himself on playoff teams over and over. He wants to be in a locker room where guys are more serious and consistent. (either that or he knows JJ is leaving). I for one, will miss his fearless attitude. He’s a very young 31, seems to be in great shape, and will almost definitely be valuable for several more years. That said, he’s such a pro that despite being under appreciated and under used, I have no doubt he will contribute all he has to offer in the playoffs.

Doug

April 13th, 2010
6:22 pm

Ian,

You are clearly an idiot. The Hawks have averaged more than 16,000 this year in a 19,000 seat arena.

The Braves (for the past several years) have averaged less than 30,000 in a 52,000 seat venue.

Gwinnett Fred

April 13th, 2010
6:23 pm

Folks need to quit thinking the importance of a #3 seed as the path to a weaker 1st round opponent.

The key to finish #3 is a second round opponent of Orlando instead of Cleveland! Given we beat the Magic the last game and the Celtics went 2-2 against the Cavs this year – it wouldn’t be out of the question we could be playing the Celts with HOME COURT for the East Finals!!!!

This team is good enough for fans (and them) to start thinking big picture, not 1st round opponents.

GET THE #3 SEED – YES, IT’S THAT IMPORTANT!!!!!

Section 303

April 13th, 2010
6:24 pm

Ian, I’ve been to a lot of Braves playoffs games where there were not “45,000 or so”. Remember that the ‘02 Game 5 with the Giants was not a sellout.

It is sad that demand is so low, but that is just Atlanta. I love living here and hate that the city gets ripped for low turnouts at big games. Have no problem with the Hawks trying to pack the place. Even though it undercuts season ticket holders who are paying full price (like me!).

I’m betting, depending on the weekend day, Game 1 is a sellout (thanks to walkup crowd). Doubt that Game 2 will be, though. Not on a week night, with the Bucks in town. Hope I’m wrong about that.

Ian

April 13th, 2010
6:24 pm

Oh yea Doug, then why are tickets available for this weekend? If close to 30,000 people go to 81 Braves home games, why can’t 19,000 go to 41 Hawks home games? Nice try loser.

Ian

April 13th, 2010
6:25 pm

And Doug, go ahead and Google NBA attendance this season. Check out some of the BAD teams who have much better attendance then Atlanta.

doc

April 13th, 2010
6:26 pm

terrell, not disputing you or mo; i dont think the team has underachieved but it definitely didnt exceed expectations. to win say 56 to 58 wins would have been special as they would have been in the race for division champions all along whether they won it or not. i have been saying your comments during the year that with the injury situation this year they could have maybe done better. the execution and desire was missing some during the year.

i guess if they make it to the finals then they can say it was a special year as was last year. if they dont and dont press someone to say 6 or 7 good games in the second round then good year and leave it at that.

Seattle Hawks Fan

April 13th, 2010
6:26 pm

Maybe the Cavs lay off and not try to win tonight. Wouldn’t it be in their intrest to play Boston in round 2 rather than face the athletic, deep benched Hawks? Maybe Lebron sits for most of the game along with Shaq, Jamison, and Williams. Wouldn’t them winning this game kind of hurt their overall playoff picture if they had to play the Hawks before facing Orlando in round 3?

Section 216, Row B 1-2

April 13th, 2010
6:27 pm

So Ian – how many tickets you have for Game 1???

Doug

April 13th, 2010
6:28 pm

All I know you stupid idiot (and probably racist) Ian is that the Hawks regularly sell 85-90% of the tickets in their venue, whereas the Braves regularly sell less than half of theirs.

Section 303

April 13th, 2010
6:29 pm

Ian, why are you so intent on ripping Hawks attendance? I don’t need google to know that the Braves attendance is not that great, either. What’s the point?

Bottom line…city’s best team plays in Philips arena this weekend. Don’t give a F if there are 2 people there or 20,000 people there. Can’t take that away from the Hawks. Class of this town. No debate.

Rod from College Park

April 13th, 2010
6:34 pm

Mo Evans should be the team leader. He is the only one I have heard this year who answers questions truthfully. No doubt he will opt out, as he is in the same position Chills was in. No player wants to sit on the bench, when they can bring more to the table than another guy who is starting. It hurts their value when the become free agents, and any person who is a competitor wants to start. Jamal has thrived in that situation this year, but I would be shocked if he does not change his tune next year when his deal will be up.

Ian

April 13th, 2010
6:35 pm

In the end, it does not matter. Everyone knows they can’t get past Cleveland or Orlando regardless. They get past the 2nd round, which they have NEVER done, I will be the first one on here saying I was wrong.

Section 303

April 13th, 2010
6:38 pm

Gee, Ian. That’s mighty big of you. Have fun rooting against them this weekend. And, let me know if you get any extra Braves World Series tixs.

Ian

April 13th, 2010
6:38 pm

For the record, some of the teams who have better attendance then the 3rd place in the Eastern Conference Hawks: Houston, Chicago, Portland, NY, Golden State (really?), and Oklahoma City The Hawks are 19th in attendance. Sad. The CLIPPERS are only 230 on average behind Atlanta.

Section 216, Row B 1-2

April 13th, 2010
6:39 pm

Ian – you STILL haven’t answered (or lied) about the question:

How many tickets have you bought for game 1?

If the (true) answer is zero (which I’m sure it is) – then you have ZERO legitimacy in talking about attendence figures.

Now go suck your thumb on the sofa you couch potato fair weather fan.

JeJe

April 13th, 2010
6:39 pm

I can’t believe more people don’t call out Bibby for being overweight.

The guy does NOT use his size to his advantage at all on the court.

1) He cannot post up players a la Baron Davis. B.Diddy uses his SIZE to post up SMALLER players. Bibby doesn’t do this
2) Because he is so big, he is too slow and immobile to GUARD other players. Seriously, someone faces him up, takes one dribble, and Bibby looks like the damn Statue of Liberty after the player has taken one dribble –> !@#$ing joke

So can someone tell me why Bibby feels the need to be so big?

terrell

April 13th, 2010
6:41 pm

JeJe

April 13th, 2010
6:42 pm

Can someone please explain why Woody sticks with the SAME starting lineup for 3 years? If Bibby and Marvin suck, WHY are they not BENCHED for other players to START the game? Bibby had his 13 early points yesterday — what’d he accomplish after the 1st quarter? Woodson is such a damn idiot. God. I won’t even get into how bad Marvin is

Greg

April 13th, 2010
6:42 pm

Seattle Hawks Fan, it’s just the opposite. If the Celtics beat the Bulls tonight, the Cavs will try very hard to beat the Hawks tomorrow night so they can play the Hawks in round 2(making the big, probably incorrect, assumption that the Hawks would beat the Heat in round 1. The Celtics are getting older, but they have the same nucleus that won a title a couple of years back and the experience and confidence to compete with anybody when it’s playoff time. By contrast, the Hawks don’t believe in themselves enough not to lose 6 straight road games versus mostly mediocre competition as we came down the stretch of this season….and they’ve won only one playoff series in 6 seasons withDeadWood at the helm.

Gwinnett Fred

April 13th, 2010
6:44 pm

Ian, let’s look at your list:

Houston – no hockey team to compete with
Chicago – last census had SIX times the population of Atlanta
Portland – exactly what is there to do in Portland besides the Blazers?
New York – last census had SEVENTEEN times the population of Atlanta
Golden Sate – no hickey team and SF TWICE the population of Atlanta
OK City – no hockey team (or anything else for that matter)

So your comparisons are pretty lame. Just like you appear to be.

JeJe

April 13th, 2010
6:53 pm

JJ said last year we thought we could beat Cleveland in a series rather than “believed” we could beat them in a series. What has happened since then? We’re 0-3 vs. Cleveland.

Woody better hope for the 3 seed, so we can win 2 games max vs. Orlando and he’ll get his !@#damn extension he doesn’t deserve

Woody

April 13th, 2010
7:01 pm

MJ called me about coaching the Bobcats……..If Joe leaves hmmmmm Im OUT!!!!

cdog

April 13th, 2010
7:02 pm

the hawks need o ready some ofthe bench players like randolph morris and collins for the playoffs.if the bulls beat the celtics tonight i would give these young men along with teague and mario west plenty time agains the cavaliers in the final game.hpoefully, rick sund will seriously look at adding a quality center after the season is over but first things first. the hawks need to come out and play tenacious defense in the playoffs.this year joe johnson can’t go into the playoffs talking about how tired he is.the games he fail to show up in this season should have given him enough rest for him to be wide open in the playoffs.josh smith is going to be the keys along with al horford and bibby.overall the hawks has a great chance to get to the conference and then who knows what can happen then.

Big Ray

April 13th, 2010
7:16 pm

Yes, the third seed is important.

Cleveland is posturing. One regular season game is not going to change how well Shaq and others are worked back into the rotation. If Mike Brown can’t figure that out, then he is three times the idiot that many think Mike Woodson is. At least Mike Woodson can make up his mind. Mike Brown should take notes from Stan Van Gundy’s idiot move to put Jameer Nelson back into the starting lineup last season, late in the playoffs, when it was Rafer Alston they were winning with. Nelson stunk it up, and the Lakers won it all.

Having to depend on Boston to lose one of their last two games is partially the result of the Hawks not winning some of the games they should have won earlier in the season, back when “losing focus” was en vogue. In this way, the team has underachieved.

On the other hand, having a healthier team, the maturation of Smith, and adding a more potent scorer does NOT guarantee that your team will win 8-10 more games the next season. The new player has to gel with the old guys, and when said player is getting around 30 mpg, that’s a big change. The coaching has been roughly the same (though I’d say better in some areas) as before. Marvin has regressed, and that hurt. The defense has gotten worse. Other teams have gotten better, and have proven it by not getting beat by our superior athleticisim alone. In other words, failure to execute, which happened much the same way it did last year, has cost us this year in what should have been simple wins, particularly on the road. Hence the remark above about underachieving. Took the team a while to “get it”, and that cost a few wins. Winning 55 games would have been more on the mark in my opinion, but it’s just my opinion. There were a lot of 4th quarter meltdowns and the reasons/excuses/whatever are always debatable.

Saying that Woody cannot take us to the next level is an attempt to predict the future, and I mean that exactly the way I said it. Woody has yet to be given the chance to prove that he can or cannot “take us to the next level.” Two main things have to be considered before making such a proclamation. One, do we truly have the personnel it takes to compete at the highest level, or do we need an upgrade here and there?

Two, how many tries at getting out of the second round should a coach get before he gets the heave-ho? In judging this, must we not take into consideration things such as injuries? If that is the case (and I believe it is), then we can discount last year to an extent, as this team was not nearly healthy enough to compete in the second round, and didn’t have the personnel either (again, just my opinion). This time, the personnel are better/upgraded, but is it truly enough to compete with Orlando or Cleveland in a 7 round series?

Those of you who have been around for a while know that I don’t have a gushing/glowing opinion of Woodson, but he does deserve more credit than we are often willing to give. Fair is fair, right is right. I am no more inclined to believe that Woodson cannot get us to “the next level” than I am inclined to believe that he CAN do it. I just don’t know, and don’t think it can be judged until we are certain the group of players we have is capable, and/or until Woodson has had the opportunity to prove himself in this category.

Our first trip to the playoffs ended in a first round knockout in game 7. Our second trip ended with us having won the first round in game 7, then swept in the second round. That is natural progression. Woody’s first true proving ground in this next level will be this year. After this postseason is over, we’ll probably have a better gauge of what he is truly capable of.

Or….I could be dead wrong about all of it. Wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last….

Big Ray

April 13th, 2010
7:20 pm

JeJe ,

An extension is not a promise of employment until the contract is up. And extension is “You get to keep your job until it’s decided that you cannot do what we want you to do.”

Woody could get extended this offseason, then fired in the middle of next season. Seen it happen before. He deserves an extension, unless management is absolutely sure they have a better candidate waiting in the wings. But does he deserve to work through the entirety of the extended contract (assuming he gets one)? That is yet to be determined.

The idea is to keep someone around who won’t make the team worse , if nothing else. Unless you can get (and are willing to pay for) somebody that you are darn sure will be better, then you stick with the devil you know. Right now, I have no good ideas on a replacement.

Do you? I’d be curious to hear, at the least.

Big Ray

April 13th, 2010
7:22 pm

cdog ,

Collins is gone for the season (injury) and Morris won’t likely see the floor in the playoffs unless at least two or three of our power forwards/centers are injured. Seriously. Woody will play Marvin at the 4 and play JJ 48 mpg before you see Morris.

Jeff

April 13th, 2010
7:26 pm

I hope they can hang on to the 3rd seed, but I don’t think it really matters at the end of the day. Does anyone remember 1994 when they were the NUMBER ONE seed and then lost in the semis to Indiana (Rick Smits, Reggie Miller, Detlef Shremph and company?). I mean we had the NUMBER ONE seed and STILL couldn’t get out of the second round. Although that was the same year they traded ‘Nique for Manning…huge mistake.

Then there was 1988 when they came within a game of beating the Celtics in Game 7 in that memorable Dominique VS Bird classic…once again in the second round. Bottom line is this is the same ol’ Hawks. I just can’t see them getting past the 2nd round at this point. The Magic and Cavs are just better and have had their number. They need another dominant post player to add to the mix and then they might be viable contenders. Until that happens, I think the best they can hope for is the Conference Semis.

Grandad

April 13th, 2010
7:36 pm

Thug is a legitimate word but the way [*'Ian'*]
uses it makes it sound racist.
Now if used in conjunction with a certain “Big Orange” University;
located just north of us then, it’s okay.
However, Ian, you insulted my sport. That was rude.
I don’t tolerate rude behavior.
I guess I sorta’ insulted ‘The Big Orange people’.
I was just joshin’.
I suspect Ian, was serious.

Grandad

April 13th, 2010
7:38 pm

*Okay to say thug, not to be racist. sorry!

O'Brien

April 13th, 2010
7:45 pm

I dont think Woody underachieved. I think the team (players and coaches combined) all underachieved together.

Although I blame Woody for not using Bibby more effectively, it is not Woody’s fault that Bibby has regressed. Although there MIGHT be things that Woody can do to help Marvin, its not Woody’s fault that Marvin has regressed.

Although the switching gets abused sometimes, and Woody fails to adjust, sometimes, the players dont give the effort and focus needed, and thats not Woody’s fault. So it would be unfair to put it all on Woody.

I would be surprised if Mo does not opt out. If JJ goes somewhere else, then Hawks might give Mo a bigger and/or longer contract to be the backup SG (behind Crawford).

If JJ resigns with the Hawks, then Mo might get a bigger and/or longer contract to play backup SG somewhere else. The guy is a winner. Started at SG for the division champs Orlando Magic 3 seasons ago, and for the past 2 seasons, has been an important cog on the Hawks, despite playing out of position this year.

And I’ll be happy for him. But I hope he stays with the Hawks, I hope JJ stays with the Hawks, and I hope we bring Chills back. And although I like Teague, I love the Hawks, so if there is a more solid PG that we can bring in to help the team out, then I am okay with that.

If Boston loses tonight, I think Woody should play his starters tomorrow, but only for 20 minutes or so in the first half.

Ray,

We might need RandMo when we play the Magic (assuming we get the third seed), because Al and ZaZa will get a lot of fouls called on them.

sam'l

April 13th, 2010
7:55 pm

I now post serious blogs just before I know they’re going to be erased……..I can say what I want to and no one knows about it….so I don’t get stabbed in the back.

It looks like Chicago needs this game against the Celtics tonight. The Raptors have better division wins…if I’ve figured this out,tie goes to the Raptors.

I think Chicago may put up a really good game tonight. I think they’ll win.

Have the Champagne ready…..or at least the popcorn. .

Second point……No one in their right mind wants any NBA player to get injured (except I thought Woody should have punched Kidd). Anyway, clarification, I don’t want anybody to get hurt,

However, these supposed shoo-ins Cleveland and Orlando are in the same boat as everyone else…..they are one turn of an ankle away from going home. I think if the Hawks play to the best of their ability and never give up (a la the Phoenix and San Antonio victories) good things will happen for them.

Don’t the Atlanta Hawks after half a century of futility deserve a few lucky breaks? (And no, I’m not hoping Lebron or Dwayne or Howard get injured…I’m just saying the Hawks got a chance for many reasons).

sam'l

April 13th, 2010
8:02 pm

Enter your comments here

sam'l

April 13th, 2010
8:07 pm

Mo Evans has played well in the past…..He’s playing well in the present. Why would we let him leave ? Give him Mo’ money if he wants it. Hey I’d take Flip Murray back too…and Chills. Pack the bench.

lewis

April 13th, 2010
8:18 pm

glad to hear that I’m not the only one who feels this way about Mo

BravesFan79

April 13th, 2010
8:21 pm

Daniel: “Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, Larry Brown (sorta), Doc Rivers (sorta) then you can say that about every coach. How would you feel about Jerry Sloan”

Wow… did you really put Woody/Doc in the same greatness category as Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan!?? Are u KIDDING ME!?? Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan are the top 2 coaches in the NBA… hands down! Give those 2 coaches the same talent that Phil and Greg have had, and they would have won just as many titles.
The Jazz of the mid/late 90’s would dominate this years crop of Western playoff foes… i have great memories of them sweeping the Lakers with Shaq/Kobe, and making their way to the Finals where they met Jordan. If Jordan didnt get every call, the Jazz would of won one.

VenomSpitter

April 13th, 2010
8:27 pm

come on bulls

BravesFan79

April 13th, 2010
8:31 pm

Our best shot is if Boston takes out the Cavs in the 2nd round, and we beat the Magic, then beat the Celtics…. then were in the NBA Finals! Hey.. its possible.

lewis

April 13th, 2010
8:32 pm

d rose looks good early