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 confidence.”

So after getting humbled like that, after a brutal video session Sunday morning followed by a practice, after two days to think about how they got bullied, are the Hawks better prepared mentally for Game 4?

“I think so,” Josh said. “Everybody is focused. Nobody wants to get blown out, I don’t care if it’s at home or on the road. It left a sour taste in our mouths yesterday. Definitely a wake-up call. We’ve just got to be prepared for anything they throw at us. I think we will play with a sense of urgency early on and not wait until we are down by 20-plus to be able to answer back.”

If there are skeptics among you, that’s with good reason. You’ve seen this story too many times. Hawks win home playoff games. Hawks don’t compete in road playoff games (with that one notable exception in Miami). Hawks can’t quite fulfill their potential. Hawks remain a second-tier team.

It’s got to feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football with Lucy holding. This would be the time you finally kick the dang thing only to have her pull it away again and ending up on your back feeling like a simp. Heck, I wasn’t sure where I was going with that but it’s actually not a bad analogy for Game 3, huh?

“For me it was a little disappointing because we didn’t respond,” Woody said. “You would hope that you’ve grown a little bit from last two years so the games won’t be [as] lopsided as it was [Saturday] night. You have got to learn from it and improve.”

Let’s forget what’s happening to Denver, Dallas, and the Lakers. Sure, those series show that nothing is for certain in the playoffs, even for the defending champs, but let’s not pretend they have anything to do with the Hawks. For one thing, all of those teams have more currency than the Hawks, who took another step by winning 53 games but won’t earn real respect until they can make a legit postseason run.

The Hawks have internal questions to answer and can’t be looking elsewhere to take comfort from getting blistered in the Bradley Center. Josh said the Hawks know winning tonight would help answer lingering questions about this group.

“The first two times [in the playoffs], especially when we first got in, we was new we didn’t understand things about the playoffs and the postseason,” Josh said. “We was just playing with a lot of momentum at home. We didn’t really know what to do on the road. Last year we still was young but we had the depth that we needed and we had the maturity and growth that we needed to be able to win games on the road.

“We’ve got to be able to approach every road game like we do home games: confident and not worried about the crowd and get back to having fun.”

The Hawks can earn redemption tonight. That’s always the cool thing about the playoffs. Win tonight for a 3-1 lead and so much pressure is alleviated from the Hawks. The questions would be about how the Bucks can possibly hope to avoid elimination at Philips Arena on Wednesday.

Lose and … well, at least the Hawks have homecourt.

“You play the regular season to get homecourt advantage,” Woody said. “Just in case. [Tonight] is a big game. If we win tomorrow night we can go home and wrap it up. If not we’ve just got to go home and handle our business there and continue to play it out until we can win four games.”

If the Hawks need to rely on homecourt advantage to win a series nearly everyone expected them to win convincingly it wouldn’t feel like they’ve taken another step, would it? And that’s before you consider what it would mean for a second-round series against the Magic, whose only concern is whether they can sweep the Bobcats tonight.

Better for the Hawks to win tonight and prove that Saturday wasn’t what they are about. They can show that they can win road playoff games under pressure. They can put down a plucky opponent that rose up for a quick minute but couldn’t hang when the Hawks played their game.

“The great teams, they figure it out eventually and we are not there yet,” Woody said. “We are still learning.”

MC

793 comments Add your comment

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:51 pm

anyone else sick of the playoffs schedule these days, feels like the Hawks have been playing 2 weeks and only played 3 games.

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:52 pm

used to be play at home back to back nights with off day to travel only. That was much better

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:53 pm

Is the game tonight, I’m so lost as to when they play.

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:55 pm

The Chicago / Boston series is good, feels like playoffs. Also Utah and Denver is played well.

Go Hawks

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:56 pm

anybody here?

BigTimeTECHFan

April 26th, 2010
2:57 pm

Am I the only Haws fan left after Saturday’s game?

ChippersLoveChild

April 26th, 2010
2:59 pm

Nothing on the Hawks’ team bus being struck by a car? Hopefully the players are alright.

merbertmoover

April 26th, 2010
3:00 pm

man i thought them hawks looked like limp noodles saturday…smoove be all mopey, going slower than a caterpillar in a cabbage patch, you know what im sayin?

Westurd

April 26th, 2010
3:00 pm

win tonight an all is forgotten
lose tonight and the sky is falling…….and heads are rolling!

LC

April 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

Somebody needs to explain to Josh what the difference is between was and were.

ilovejoejohnson

April 26th, 2010
3:03 pm

when the hawks get blown out somebody always has something to say o they suck there this..but the lakers lost worst than us saturday and now there tied with the thunder the hawks will still win the series LETS GO HAWKS!

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

Lol these player and coaches comments are a joke.

Smoove says that we should play to not fall down by 20 — what ever happened to BEING UP EARLY and CONTROLLING games?

Woodson said if we don’t win tonight we should just try win 4 games. THERE IS NO URGENCY WITH THIS DAMN TEAM. NO ONE IS TAKING MILWAUKEE SERIOUSLY AND THEY ARE SHOWING IT IN THESE COMMENTS. GUYS ACT LIKE WE CAN JUST FART AROUND ON THE ROAD AND JUST WIN AT HOME

HOW CAN THE OWNERSH!@ NOT NOTICE THIS GARBAGE? OH WAIT, THEY ARE BROKE, HATE EACH OTHER, AND DON’T CARE EITHER EXCEPT FOR MICHAEL MORONSON JR.

GOD DAMNIT

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

JOSH SMITH CAN’T EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH. WHAT IS THIS GUY — 24? ADD TO THAT THE BLATANT TYPOS IN THIS BLOG AND IT IS OFFICIALLY A JOKE

FIRE WOODY

Ree Roe

April 26th, 2010
3:11 pm

Great article MC, but I’m tired of the talk now. Show up on the road & win in a hostile road environment. Show us Hawks fans that you’re mentally tougher than what we’ve seen out of you the last 3 yrs. I’m so sick of seein these lackluster efforts on the road.

-REEady to Roe!!!

Section 303

April 26th, 2010
3:14 pm

The Hawks can talk all they want to about being embarrassed and how Saturday was unacceptable, but the problem is they just did not play hard in Game 3. All their problems were effort related and that just cannot happen.

What could Coach Woodson have possibly said during that film session? Other than Joe, everyone acted like they did not want to even play. Tired of listening to this joke of a team talk. They need to shutup. Half of what they say is not from the heart anyways. Just a bunch of scripted crap. Sick of hearing them mewl on about how their going to do this or that, only to watch them play with as little effort as possible.

They want support? They want respect? THEN PLAY HARD!! I can live with a loss. Can’t support guys that won’t come to play every night.

Marcus

April 26th, 2010
3:17 pm

I fully expect Zaza to have a little MMA audition tonite on the court. Kevin Garnett flashback.
On Sat, nobody looked tough or prepared for playoff battle-ready, basketball. We set a tone with high-flying and speed in Games 1 and 2, but not hard-nosed, grinding, no layup PLAYOFF basketball.
Tonight is the night to see if we understand that concept or are going the “run-n-gun offense /can’t pound it out” route. Warren Moon and Houston Oilers, send help. We see where that got them :rolleyes:

Mike is Back

April 26th, 2010
3:17 pm

MC, good stuff…I look for guys to bounce back…I’m on record for a victory tonight…and I stand by it.

@JeJe, nall dawg…you’re the joke. You make excuse for some players and criticize others…you win as a team, and loose a team.

Michael Cunningham

April 26th, 2010
3:22 pm

@Chippers: no injuries sustained by Hawks or by passengers in other car

@LC, JeJe: hey, don’t judge too harshly. we might not all come off sounding so great if our exact words were quoted for articles. at least i wouldn’t

@ReeRoe, Sec 303: i understand how you feel. put up time for Hawks

allan in texas

April 26th, 2010
3:23 pm

I love the hawks.Born and raised in georgia and I will always support them,but if the hawks truly want to be considered elite,then they have got to start winning on the road.If not then changes will have to be made either with the players or coaching staff.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
3:30 pm

MC,

In my opinion, this game should be huge from the players point of view. Because if they win, they should feel better about their chances when it comes time to win a road game against Orlando (since we dont have home-court to fall back on in round 2).

But if they lose, then in the back of their minds, whenever they play in Orlando, they will tighten up and not respond well to adversity.

And I disagree with Woody. It doesn’t take a great team to figure out how to win on the road. Nobody is expecting the Hawks to win a game 7 on the road. We just expect them to give themselves a chance to win in the fourth against a team who is without 2 of their best players (Bogut and Redd).

However, these Hawks have been resilient all year, and whenever they seem out for the count, they always bounce back. So win or lose, I expect a much better effort from the Hawks tonight.

LC

April 26th, 2010
3:37 pm

At this point, they can say all these things, but until they actually go out and give a solid, winning road performance it doesn’t mean anything.

How many times have we heard, “we have to learn from this,” “we have to bring more energy from the start,” etc. etc. This being the third straight year in the playoffs for this group renders those quotes useless. At this point the only way to change the perception is to go out and win games on the road. Or at the very least be competitive which they haven’t done except for the one game against Miami where they didn’t show up. Tonight will tell us a lot.

clarkekent

April 26th, 2010
3:58 pm

MC-
When teams lose by 20 it not a player thing… it’s a coach thing. I know all the arguments about players have to make shots but when you come into a game and play with no focus and no game plan… it’s coaching. You ignore what works and let your team play however they want it’s coaching. If players, that are in, don’t follow the game plan (if you had one) take them out. You come out of timeouts and the team still does not execute. That’s coaching. The pick & roll with bibby and/or crawford with horford had been working the entire series. they should run that play in the ground but the don’t. If your players are not accepting your coaching its time to change the coach. Same excuses, same reasons, same results.

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
3:58 pm

From Merrian-Webster Dictionary the definition of a Coach:

Coach- One who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
3:59 pm

From Merrian-Webster Dictionary the definition of a Coach:

Coach- One who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

Does that describe Woody?

Niremetal

April 26th, 2010
4:01 pm

Big Ray, I love you daddy! Smooches!

Gimme, gimme- I need, I NEED!

EW

April 26th, 2010
4:12 pm

I hope we win tonight…and clinch in 5 as you predicted before the series MB. We could really use the rest before the next round…Spinning our wheels in the first would signal a short 2nd round exit in my opinion.

thomas22

April 26th, 2010
4:12 pm

@LC- You provided the most sound observation on this topic today……

The talking points by the players after the game really have to stop- I support the Hawks, but man we have got to stop losing games by 20+ pts to sub par teams. THIS IS THE PLAYOFFS GUYS COME HUNGRY!

We really need to mature from this “I need the crowd to help me get in the game/win syndrome” which is a direct hindrance to our ability to win on the road. I support all the players but when will Coach W consider limiting Marvin’s minutes-he looks so lost out there right now……

EW

April 26th, 2010
4:12 pm

MC rather than MB, My mistake.

EW

April 26th, 2010
4:15 pm

thomas..agreed. I have said since the beginning of the playoffs that Marvin’s play will determine where we go. Not because he’s the best on the team…but because he’s the one person we have no idea what the hell we’re gonna get out of him from one night to the next.

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
4:16 pm

“The great teams, they figure it out eventually and we are not there yet,” Woody said. “We are still learning.”

this speaks volumes.. how much time do you think is needed Woodson? lobbying for a little extended(sion) time? no excuses sir. your players seem to feel the time is now, as if they know what it takes, are you guys not on the same page? what are your expectations…

The Truth

April 26th, 2010
4:18 pm

If this was a regular season game, I would have to speak “The Truth” about the awful “pre-season-like” performance the Hawk displayed in playoff game 3. If this was a regular-season game, I would mention about the lack of playoff intensity as compared to the Bucks. I would also mention about the Hawks shyness away from committing “Hard-Fouls” that is so customary during a playoff series; not to mention the lack of aggression the Hawks shows on defense and offense. But since these are post-season playoff games, I’m going to let the Hawks actions speak for themselves.

Tim

April 26th, 2010
4:25 pm

Man, I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to comment on grammar by a player but that is tough to read.

TigerWoods

April 26th, 2010
4:26 pm

Tonight is not looking good. Hawks confidence is down. Hawks have no defense. Hawks have no center. Bibby is old, and Jamal is lost in playoffs. Hawks are losing me and many others. If i play golf like hawks, i only win in my home state. Show guts, show heart, show you are something other than chickens and monks. Here is looking at you Marvin

LC

April 26th, 2010
4:33 pm

Marvin is completely, utterly lost and useless. MC, I know you weren’t covering the team this past offseason, but who in the hell were we bidding against when we gave him an absurd 5 year contract.

Why didn’t we just wait for somebody else to offer him and then match if it was worth it like we did with Josh Smith? I just don’t understand why we have give 7.5 mil per for 5 more years when he hadn’t proven anything and in fact seemed to be regressing each year. That was just an awful move by Sund. As I have said before, imagine where this team would be had we taken a smarter/cheaper route like Delfino or Barnes to start at the 3 for us. Both would have provided more veteran leadership and toughness then we can even hope for from Marvin Williams. I cannot believe we will we be stuck watching him for 4 more seasons after this one.

i_am_soulstar

April 26th, 2010
4:34 pm

someone tell Crawford this is still the regular season so he can catch fire.

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
4:39 pm

LC YOU ARE WRONG. SUND IS A GENIOUS GM. HE RESIGNED ALL OUR CORE PLAYERS! MARVIN IS THE #2 OVERALL PICK. HE HAS ATHLETICISM AND GREAT POTENTIAL

ajw

April 26th, 2010
4:50 pm

I believe Josh learned his English from this blog.

sam'l

April 26th, 2010
4:59 pm

Relax. Hawks in 5. This team has a built in destruction factor…It can’t be changed…They’ll still win.

One comment on iso Joe…..First of all, I’m a fan of Joe, big fan. Secondly, the way he sets himself up to launch a shot or get free or dribbles through his legs or feints….this type of maneuvering really doesn’t set him up to make razor sharp passes to cutting teammates…ie., the best time to throw the ball might be when it’s between his legs. It’s not like he’s standing still with the ball over his head looking to dish it off….just not the way he plays…..dont’ know what to do about this.

Go Hawks!

hawfan2

April 26th, 2010
4:59 pm

We all know Defino can’t guard nobody, but If Marvin can’t score on Delfino then he needs to at least focus on defense and contain Salmons and rebound the ball.

Cali girl

April 26th, 2010
5:00 pm

the hawks need to be like the cavaliers were yesterday cause the cavaliers were up 2-1 before coming into game 4. they knew they needed the win and didn’t need to tie the series so instead they came out and put the bulls away i say the hawks need to do that and realize that they can close this series out wednesday night if they win tonight so that needs to be their motivation and if you’re down by 5 pts play because the game ain’t over until all 48 minutes are played!!

dstdeelite

April 26th, 2010
5:01 pm

Since this is English class and/or Blogging Etiquette 101, please remember that when a person sends out any correspondence and it is in ALL CAPS, it is interpreted that the author is screaming at the reader. That is a big no-no in cyber space. So….Don’t throw stones in a glass house. Go Hawks!!!

sam'l

April 26th, 2010
5:02 pm

Why do I feel the heat for saying relax? It’s because psychically I know you’ve all been through what I’ve been through for years…..great potential and unexpected steep dropoffs and people can’t comprehend it…..well don’t vibe me…I comprehend it, and right now it’s okay, Hawks should take tonight’s game by playing defense
.

tidog

April 26th, 2010
5:06 pm

It is what it is Blah Blah Blah. Stop with excuses and pound this team.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
5:47 pm

“It’s got to feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football with Lucy holding. This would be the time you finally kick the dang thing only to have her pull it away again and ending up on your back feeling like a simp. Heck, I wasn’t sure where I was going with that but it’s actually not a bad analogy for Game 3, huh?”

Game 3 was more like if Lucy pulled the ball away, watched you fall on your azz, pulled out her gat and shot you in the balls.

I’m not predicting a winner for tonight, but whoever wins will win by less than 10 points. I think the Hawks have enough dignity to keep this game close. At least, I hope so.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
5:53 pm

“If the Hawks need to rely on homecourt advantage to win a series nearly everyone expected them to win convincingly it wouldn’t feel like they’ve taken another step, would it? ”

No sir, it would not.

Last year they took 7 games to win a series most considered to be a toss-up, and that was with a less talented, more injured roster against a team at full strength. If this more talented team takes 7 games to beat a team missing its two best players, it’s safe to say that’s a significant step back from last season.

AM

April 26th, 2010
6:33 pm

Sund is a genius. Thank God he didn’t extend Woody’s contract. I say this is the night….lose and there’s no contract…win and we can talk about it. Keep the carrot in eyesight, but out of reach. This is a must win situation regardless.

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
6:53 pm

I agree AM. If the Hawks lose 2nite. Woody is definitely out the door with a foot in his azz.

northcyde

April 26th, 2010
6:56 pm

Just keep your eyes tonight on #5 folks. Keep your eyes on #5.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
7:04 pm

northcyde,

What is the backup plan if #5 has a bad game?

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
7:11 pm

Truth Serum,

” I would also mention about the Hawks shyness away from committing “Hard-Fouls” that is so customary during a playoff series”;

Something we both agree on…