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

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
9:33 pm

i wonder if Woodson is going to continue to let that happen Al night? even with Al in the game its a foul waiting to happen.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

Big 3 by Mo! Perimeter players have been solid in this game, at least on offense.

Big Ray, I’d rather have an aggressive Josh and Al on the floor in the 4th than a passive Josh and Al on the floor now. I don’t blame Woody for keeping them on the bench.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

OMG….fouls are killing us..

Hawk n the Ham

April 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

SUPER MARIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

April 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

As if the Hawks weren’t fouling enough, here comes Mario West.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:35 pm

Najeh,

I hear that. I’m just telling you that the only post threats we have are on the bench. Gonna have to wait for the 2nd half for that. Josh needed to cool down, and foul trouble wouldn’t affect what Al can do on offense.

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
9:35 pm

Joe playing PG right now..

rusty

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

the hawks stink.what is iso joe doing northcyde. nothcyde i dont know who makes more sense you or woody. i would say neither of you make any sense

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

Joe’s had the hot hand, but he was dribbling too much that time.

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

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

Again switchin d

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

Damn. Smart play by Skiles to put Bell on JJ while he’s doing his hot sauce thang along the baseline.

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

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
9:37 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:37 pm

I’m sure Teague would have not only turned that over, but also fouled Jennings for an 8-point play or something.

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
9:37 pm

Coach u just gonna let them pick u apart huh?

i dont even know why he took Mo out with just 3 fouls… it aint like he gonna use him like that… why you saving him???

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:38 pm

Another Bucks run, fueled by Joe’s gaffe…

How the devil does Crawford draw more fouls in these situations than Joe does? Maybe it’s the refs…

sleepy

April 26th, 2010
9:38 pm

lol at them icing jamal out of the entire last 2 minutes …..PATHETIC

drmaryb

April 26th, 2010
9:38 pm

Joe WILL close this game! We don’t NEED him now! Joe is playing “Ropey-Dope” like ALI in his PRIME wearing down George Foreman!

LeBron, usually let his teammates get OFF – before he takes over too! Its not ISO-JOE time yet.

OMG! Down by 6 & J-Cross almost had a 4 point play! Dang!

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:39 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:37 pm
I’m sure Teague would have not only turned that over, but also fouled Jennings for an 8-point play or something.

LOL….sad, but LOL all the same…

Hawk n the Ham

April 26th, 2010
9:39 pm

I can’t believe we are only down 4 on the road in the playoffs, where Horford and Smoove weren’t playing in the majority of the 2nd quarter.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:40 pm

Backcourt was very good in that half, and the Hawks actually managed to maintain an advantage on the boards for a change, but the defense has to get better and the front court has to contribute something offensively in the 2nd half for the Hawks to win this game. I still think getting to the line is the key to winning this game, because that will take the crowd out of it as well.

Steven

April 26th, 2010
9:40 pm

well I guess the end of the half turned out alright considering woody sat 3 of our starters for the better part of the 2nd quarter with 2 fouls

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:40 pm

We need a serious run in the 3rd, followed by some steady play (particularly on defense), and then either an explosive late 4th quarter, or grind it out to the end (with the lead, of course).

Can we do this on the road?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:41 pm

“How the devil does Crawford draw more fouls in these situations than Joe does? ”

I think he pulls the Reggie Miller trick of flailing his arms and legs when he shoots so that some errant hand may accidentally hit him. Joe doesn’t really do much of that.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:41 pm

We’re only down by 4, but it’s these “end of the quarter” runs that bother me. The Bucks are making these plays at the times that WE should be making them.

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

April 26th, 2010
9:42 pm

PJ Carlesimo> Woodson

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:43 pm

By the way, my Teague comment is not so much to endorse playing Teague more in the playoffs as much as it is to draw attention to the fact that Bibby is not immune to mind-bogglingly stupid mistakes in key situations either.

Hawk n the Ham

April 26th, 2010
9:43 pm

Poor Zaza.

He was left out on the floor the entire 2nd quarter with nothing but guards to play with. I wonder why there was no defense? Hmmmmmmmm.

David

April 26th, 2010
9:43 pm

I missed the first half of this game due to work, but looking at the numbers, I see that that the Hawks are winning the rebounding and turnover battles. That’s a good sign, as it means they will get more possessions for the game. Right now, the Bucks are shooting 54% from the field. If the Hawks can step up their defense and cut that down, I think they will be alright and can pull out a win.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:44 pm

Sick to death of Delfino dancing and shouting out there. He’s 6 of 8. Mo can’t seem to stick with him and Marvin is anything but a defensive stopper for us (or much of anything else, really).

Ugh…tired of our defensive gaffes..

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

April 26th, 2010
9:46 pm

tonight is just an example of how the Hawks win inspite of Woodson.

All the Hawks shots seem to be tough, 1-on-1 contested jumpers

Meanwhile the bucks = wide open Js and guards blowing by big men on woodson’s switching D aka easy lay up drills…..yet only down 4.

thomas22

April 26th, 2010
9:46 pm

Maybe Coach W will try a zone instead of switching D, which is killing us.

I still say the Hawks have got to become more tuff in the paint. If someone drives toward the basket a body or hard foul needs to be the norm……

Hawk n the Ham

April 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

And why no Joe Smith when Smoove & Horfy were on the bench?

Woody had Bibby + 3 SGs & Zaza out there.

Steven

April 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

anyone thinking Woody is going to change his defense is kidding themselves

welikebaseball2

April 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

Still waiting on Woodson to make a defensive adjustment to keep the Bucks guards out of the paint…

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:49 pm

To be completely real, I don’t think we are going to get many quality minutes out of Smoove in the 2nd half. He was way too eager to make big plays in the first half, too amped up, and ended up picking up 2 early fouls as a result, and I don’t think the Hawks can count on that changing in the 2nd half. Having Horford out there will be key because he has the quickness to stay with opposing guards momentarily when he’s switched on them, and he can knock down mid range jumpers with more regularity than Zaza. But more than anything, I think the Hawks need a big half out of Joe to win this game. They need him to play like the clear-cut best player on the floor. He’s been good so far, but he is capable of playing even better.

Hawk n the Ham

April 26th, 2010
9:49 pm

Hi Woody, let me introduce you to my friend. He’s called Zone Defense. Talk to him, would you Zone? Thanks man.

terrell

April 26th, 2010
9:50 pm

Barkley said Hawks were 1-9 in its last road playoff games, with an avg loss of 18 points. That’s unbelievable!

welikebaseball2

April 26th, 2010
9:50 pm

Steven: LOL…I didn’t read your post just before mine. True. Sad, but true.

Hawk n the Ham: What…Woodson actually extend his rotation when his usual suspects aren’t getting it done? Sounds too much like coaching!

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:51 pm

“And why no Joe Smith when Smoove & Horfy were on the bench?

Woody had Bibby + 3 SGs & Zaza out there.”

Bucks don’t play more than one true big man at a time. If Joe Smith is out there he’s going to be on the perimeter guarding Delfino, and then the Hawks will be getting burned even worse than they are now.

The switching D kills the Hawks whenever Zaza is in because he’s not even close to quick enough to keep players like Salmons and Jennings in front of him. With Smoove on the bench it’s even worse because there’s no second line of defense when those players eventually get to the hoop. When Horford returns to the game, matching him up on those perimeter guys isn’t an ideal matchup either, but Horford has the quickness to at least keep them at bay momentarily and force them to take jump shots.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:52 pm

I hope Josh proves that theory wrong.

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

April 26th, 2010
9:52 pm

last night on ESPN they said that margin was 20+ in those road playoff loses.

Ken Strickland

April 26th, 2010
9:53 pm

Anyone that thinks MWoodson is a playoff calibur HC is crazy. The Bucks are shredding his beloved switching DEF and this fool refuses to admit it’s happening, and thus, won’t make a change or adjustment. He certainly won’t make any changes or adjustments before halftime. Woodson is so obcessed with trying to protect his beloved PG MBibby, he’s putting an unfair burden on all of his other players. IF BIBBY CAN’T DEFEND AGAINST DELFINO OR JENNINGS, HOW IN THE HELL DOES HE EXPECT HORFORD, ZAZA OR SMOOVE TO HANDLE THEM? STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!

sleepy

April 26th, 2010
9:53 pm

MATCHUP ZONE dependent upon whose on the floor at the time and in situations with those bigs we simply need to get our hands up and double the ballhandler .

they are expecting the switch hand are operating off the switch forcing them to give it up and to try and force guys like

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Kurt Thomas
Ersan Ilyasova
Dan Gadzuric

to be scorers. It really is that simple .

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
9:54 pm

To those of you calling for the Hawks to switch to a zone, do you really feel confident that the Hawks can communicate enough to stop Jennings’ drives without fouling and can rotate on to the Bucks’ multitude of shooters in time? They are struggling pretty badly with rotation in the current defense…

I’m with thomas22. What the Hawks really need is someone who can intimidate the Bucks when they get in the paint. That means Zaza or Horford has to take it upon himself to put Jennings on his azz instead of just trying to block his shot.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
9:54 pm

The switching D kills the Hawks whenever Zaza is in because he’s not even close to quick enough to keep players like Salmons and Jennings in front of him. With Smoove on the bench it’s even worse because there’s no second line of defense when those players eventually get to the hoop. When Horford returns to the game, matching him up on those perimeter guys isn’t an ideal matchup either, but Horford has the quickness to at least keep them at bay momentarily and force them to take jump shots.

True. The only problem is that we can’t count on “others” to cover the guys who are cutting to the basket. This is why Milwaukee scores like they weren’t the league’s second worst shooting team. Because we continue to play 3 or 4 on 5 most defensive possessions.

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
9:54 pm

And people wonder why nobody takes the Hawks seriously. Even “inferior” teams don’t take the hawks seriosily. 1-9 on the road in the playoffs is laughable.

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

April 26th, 2010
9:55 pm

lmao easy lay up again