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 have locked up a game that seemed in doubt.

Contrast that with how many times they make big runs on the road, only to fall back into a nonchalant attitude and blow leads. Yeah, like Woody says the poor shot selection, lax defensive rotations and turnovers don’t help but they have some of those same issues at home but then ride the wave of energy from the fans to Ws.

Anyway, the story was a good excuse to break out my stat about fourth-quarter ties and leads after the All-Star break: The Hawks had a tie or lead in the fourth quarter of 15 of their 17 road games after break. They were just 7-8 in those games, a significantly worse mark than the East’s top three seeds of Cleveland, Orlando and Boston. They did close out their last two road games, at the Wizards and Bucks.

“We know we haven’t been great on the road,” J.J. said. “But we haven’t been that bad.”

That’s probably a fair way to put it. But “not bad” wasn’t nearly enough to close the gap between the Hawks and Orlando and it explains that 15-game disparity between their home and road Ws.

– The Bucks say Game 3 is a virtual sellout but seats remain for Game 4.

– I asked Bibby about my road theory but I never did get a chance to get back to him on it. (Bibby is one of those dudes who if he doesn’t feel like talking, there’s no use forcing the issue)

“I don’t know,” he said. “It kind of depends on how we start.”

I got to thinking about that during the Lakers-Thunder game last night. The Lakers were taking it to the Thunder early and Doug Collins said he thinks how visiting teams start playoff games is the most important factor.

“I just think it sets the tone,” Collins said. “You look at what happened here tonight this crowd was electric, they still are, but they were deflated early.”

Of course the Thunder came back to win that game, and home teams have pretty much rolled through these playoffs. So maybe I found a road theory more half-cocked than my own.

– Computer issues and print responsibilities made me late to the blog game today. I started to collect a bunch of links but realized Brett LaGree at Hoopinion already has done the work. Instead of stealing those links, I will just send you to LaGree. Good stuff in there.

No dinner plans for Stack and Smoove.

– I offer this link not because of the story, but because of that first reader comment. It reminded me of my blog people.

– They just brought up Josh’s comments about Milwaukee during ESPN’s Celtics-Heat telecast. Doc Rivers: “I was trying to figure something negative to say about Miami. But it’s too nice here. That’s the negative. You don’t want to come to Miami because it’s Miami.”

That’s pretty much the same sentiment I heard expressed by lots of non-players in the Hawks organization when it was between Milwaukee or Miami for first-round opponent. The concern is justified. Too much Miami fun was a factor in the Mavericks blowing the 2006 Finals. That’s why after after Dallas blew Game 3 and lost Game 4, Avery Johnson sequestered players in a Fort Lauderdale hotel two-to-a-room.

When the Mavs came back to Miami during the ‘06-’07 regular season, I was working on a story about the perceived advantage the Heat enjoyed because of opponents partying before games. I asked Jason Terry about it in regards to the ‘06 Finals but figured there is no way he would go there. Instead, he gave me what might be my favorite quote in 12 years as a hack:

“It ain’t no big secret,” he said. “We come to Miami to party.”

MC

26 comments Add your comment

Mel

April 23rd, 2010
8:57 pm

First? Hawks should take care of business…. Better not hear nothing about “Lack of Focus”

sleepy

April 23rd, 2010
9:42 pm

The hawks have this problem where they go up 10 to start the 4th and they think the game is over. they stop trying to push the lead and start trying to conserve the the lead. After playing in so many close and low scoring games last year they overvalue a 10 point lead not understanding that a 10 point lead on the road is nothing to start the 4th quarter.

hawks fan 2000

April 23rd, 2010
10:03 pm

i think the Hawks are going to win this series simply cause of the matchups and the bucks just dont have their guy and the bucks can not stop josh smith sorry=( did u c that heat vs celtics game

u still can’t underestimate this team so the hawks need to push their lead away from philips

TigerWoods

April 23rd, 2010
10:32 pm

late Friday night, it is good to be back playing golf again. As for your Hawks, that i like….

MC, it is clear why Hawks lose leads late. It is called lack of defense in center position. They play defense at home because they get energized by crowds. But lack of a true center, allows opposition to score too many inside points easy late in the game. While Horford is nice, he is no defensive center. Any way just saying….

Tough game tomorrow night, mon more likely for hawks to steal

lewis

April 23rd, 2010
10:49 pm

i’d actually like to see them figure out a way to play horford or smith splitting minutes at pf with zaza at C.

Section 303

April 23rd, 2010
11:56 pm

I’m just ready to get Game 3 rolling. Too much time between games 2 and 3.

Michael, I don’t know what I think about your theory on the Hawks road problems. I tend to disagree that the small crowds have that much to do with it. I just think they let up in a lot of those games. Took their foot off the gas and got burned. If the small crowd was such a factor, would they have had the leads to lose? Don’t know….

Their focus will pick up in the playoffs, I hope. Will be interesting tomorrow night. If they have a 6-8pt lead with 4 minutes left, do they close out? Or, do they p#ss away another sure W?

Game 3, as we all know, seems to always go the way of the home team. Would be a major sign of growth if the Hawks can get a win tomorrow night.

JeJe

April 24th, 2010
12:19 am

Clyde

April 24th, 2010
12:47 am

Did we really sign Speedy Claxton instead of drafting Deron Williams?

FIRE WOODY

Najeh Davenpoop

April 24th, 2010
3:42 am

I hope they close it out in 4 so I don’t have to spend an extra $25 on the first round.

Marcus

April 24th, 2010
5:53 am

Too much time between games 1, 2, 3. That said, beware of these desperate teams at HOME. I think Miami is the onlly one of the teams down 0-2 to drop their HOME game. Thunder, Bulls, got work done at their cribs. Let us not fall prey.

Resign or Resign?

April 24th, 2010
9:28 am

I tend to agree with your road theory, MC. Also agree with Marcus that there is many days off between games. Imagine visiting team being in Miami, LA, or NY with four days off. How do you keep them from partying?
Also, as the LA-Thunder game proved, a team must start AND CONTINUE to play well to keep the home crowd from being a factor.
As far as the “leads in the fourth quarter” theory, that would probably hold mtrue for 90% of NBA teams. Is there anything more irrelevant or insignificant than a partial NBA score? Most games are won or lost in the 4th quarter; the really elite teams with the really elite players know how to close out. Let’s hope the Hawks fall into that category.

GO HAWKS!! SKIN THE BUCKS!!

ZAZA

April 24th, 2010
10:04 am

I will not let for team to lose. NOTHING EASY!!!!!!!!

Samuel

April 24th, 2010
11:00 am

I really don’t think it matters what town you play in the home team will always have the advantage. That’s on any level. The Hawks main problem is that sometimes they go away from what’s working. If they play good defense and run their offense through Josh and hit their open jumpers, they will win this series. I would like for us to sweep but as long as we win without any injuries, ill take it.

Dallas just has a bunch of guys with no heart. Plain and simple. It has nothing to do with where they are playing. They are getting drilled right now by the Spurs. San Antonio aint exactly a party town is it.

Woody=COY

SWAT Native

April 24th, 2010
11:58 am

I’m with Najeh – I really don’t want to have to go to a game 5. I hope the Hawks sweep.

hawkfan

April 24th, 2010
12:14 pm

Hmmm, Michael you mentioned “the East’s top three seeds of Cleveland, Orlando and Boston”, I swear Atlanta was the 3rd Seed and Boston was the 4th by virtue of us winning more games than them.

drmaryb

April 24th, 2010
12:44 pm

Section 303

I like it….I like it….I like it! Zsa @ Center & Josh & Al splitting time at the 4.

The only problem with that line – up though is that you don’t have your best players on the floor to start the game! Unless, you bring Marvin off the bench & start Josh at the 3. However, who will back Zsa off the bench & then, who will relieve Horford? I don’t know but its worth a look and see.

Great Post 303!

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

April 24th, 2010
12:52 pm

LMAO @ Mel – “just a lack of intensity and focus, man” I swear we heard that quote from several players all season long – repeatedly. Programmed androids spew the same response after they get away from what’s winning. Let’s hope we show some heart in Milwaukee tonight.

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

April 24th, 2010
12:58 pm

MC – The Hawks rounded out the TOP 3 seeds with Boston taking FOUR – you are a great beat writer but you in the A now man!
We fought hard for the 3 spot although I am sure that was a small anomaly on your part.
WE NEED ALL OUR PROPS!

o.O-Mac-Town -Macon, Georgia- Westsider-O.o

April 24th, 2010
3:06 pm

Perfect Script???

Hawks upset Magic; Celtics upset Cavs.

Hawks and Celtics reignited rivalry for the ECF

….lots of talk about how the Hawks will nearly sweep the Celtics because of the reg. season record..but the Hawks take a good 7 game series?

Hawks = Finals???

that would be nice :P

drmaryb

April 24th, 2010
4:58 pm

Keepin’ IT Real

Magic 3 – 0

For all the “I WISH we had Larry Brown.”. People, there is your ELITE coach down to the Mighty – Magic.

Why, well, he hasn’t enough talented players on his team that can win one play-off game against that team.
Saad, Saad, too damned Bad!

Here’s my point: No matter how great of a coach you are? You can NOT win without great players.
Records & Stats – Simply put, Just can’t tell the whole story. There are a lot of variables and intangibles that
Factor heavily into Winning. Be it games or rings!

I still, feel that the Hawks need 3 – 4 more key players to do something like that.

SWAT Native

April 24th, 2010
5:42 pm

Hawks PR guy just tweeted that the Hawks will wear their red uniforms tonight (which will match the “red out” that the Bucks are calling for. I don’t like it. The red uniforms look cool, but the Hawks have to be like 2-10 in them. Not in the playoffs…

sleepy

April 24th, 2010
7:27 pm

what is this announcer talking about ? In the first two games we were making the short jumpshots that built confidence and then we went inside . Today those short jumpshots are not falling and so hesitation has set in .

sleepy

April 24th, 2010
7:36 pm

OMG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought Woody was subbing to take the foul we had to give and then they dont WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fortune Dane

April 25th, 2010
9:48 am

The hawks have no chance of winning a championship right now. There is no reason for a supposed good team to constantly get blown out on the road in the playoffs. This has happened the last 3 yrs. I can understand losing on the road but when you are losing by 20-30 points every road game, that says something about the lack of effort, motivation, intensity, and self-confidence that it takes to compete and win regardless of where you are playing.
Woodson and his staff should be angry and the players embarrassed with how they keep getting man-handled on the road.
This team has NO CHANCE.

governor404

April 25th, 2010
11:30 am

josh smith has too many peaks and valleys,i.e.near triple double 1 game to a 2for 12 and just letting people walk past him to da basket for lay-ups, to be anything other than a tease on the nba level, how about being solid every night instead of the occasional sportcenter highlight reel. And damn homie, you make 11mil a year, why not get a haircut and a shave before you go on national tv.

how much should i weigh

May 1st, 2010
11:01 am

shoot fun stuff dude.