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

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:24 pm

Can’t believe this…
can’t believe this…
can’t believe this…

WTF ARE WE DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

good luck Joe. on tired legs.

Nique's Revenge

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

FIRE WOODY

GET AVERY

welikebaseball2

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

We don’t need 3’s!!! Drive the ball!!! Crawford & Johnson are going to shoot us right out of this!!! Oh yeah, did I say move the ball?!

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

Does it really take 12 seconds to shoot a step-back jumper?

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

Where is that fool Samuel with his Woody coach of the year Bulls.hit.

WHERE IS HIS AZZ?

nunna!!

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

good shot by joe but did u hear the coach on the bucks bench yelling iso??

Taylor

April 26th, 2010
10:25 pm

Can Zaza just not box out?

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

give me Joe Smith. at least he rebounds.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

I wonder, if Philips Arena is half empty in Game 5, would the Hawks lose that too? Youth is not an excuse anymore, after three playoff series, for being this rattled by a hostile crowd.

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

Switch.
Switch.
Switch.

Nique's Revenge

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

another great switch by deadwood!

FIRE WOODY

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

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

lmao guard on Zaza again.
Woodson’s scheme is an embarrassment

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

Woodson stubborn dummy.

and if you like him you are just as foolish.

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

Tough shot by JJ. Bucks will probably live by those shots.

ZaZa switching onto Ridnour. Way to go Hawks.

But yet Woody refuses to adjust? And where is the ZaZa from the Boston series?

welikebaseball2

April 26th, 2010
10:27 pm

And we’re still switching on defense? Okay, I’m done.

northcyde

April 26th, 2010
10:27 pm

Need one of the best defensive quarters of the season right here.

First team to 102 pts . . . . wins.

nunna!!

April 26th, 2010
10:27 pm

88-76 after missed free throw and nique says we could cut it down to 3!!

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:28 pm

There’s no defending Woodson and the Hawks for this one.

Exponential growth means only so much when it’s obvious we’re still struggling to win games on the road.

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

The Bucks are drilling the hawks.

Taylor

April 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

gotta make that

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

More indecision/confusion on the switch defense. This ish ain’t working.

David

April 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

How is it that a team who has the worst shooting percentage in the league during the regular season can’t miss all of a sudden?

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

HEY WOODSON DO U EVER PLAN ON CALLING OUT THE PLAYERS ON THIS TEAM WHO DO NOTHING? LIKE MARVIN !@#$ING WILLIAMS?
JESUS THIS GUY HAS 2 POINTS AND IS MAKING 7.5 MILLION A YEAR.

I CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS !@#$

There goes truth serum

April 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

Al Hoe-ford

April 26th, 2010
10:28 pm
I you think marvin stunk up the place look at my sorry aziez. I follow up last game 3 rebound performance with this shyyt. Some body shoot me and put my azee out of my misery.

Fire woody

April 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

this team is pathetic

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

STOP
SWITCHING
ON DEFENSE

MY GOD

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

“How is it that a team who has the worst shooting percentage in the league during the regular season can’t miss all of a sudden?”

Like Chuck says, everyone in the NBA can play.

Nobody is going to miss open rhythm jumper after open rhythm jumper if you keep allowing them to take them.

welikebaseball2

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

bigdave: I was wondering if they had left Joe Smith at the hotel or what. Amazing how we allegedly picked him up for his playoff experience, yet Woodson has refused to use him. I’ll take his toughness in the defensive paint over ZaZa’s all day. We could’ve used it on a night like this.

nunna!!

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

yo,even after all of this crap with the non calls,and the way they exploit our switching defense,WE’RE ONLY DOWN BY 10 AT THIS TIME OUT..

LETS FACE IT..THE ONLY WAY THAT WE COME BACK IS THAT WE HAVE TO PLAY GREAT DEFENSE AND WE GOT HOT..BECAUSE YOU KNOW WOODY IS NOT GONNA ADJUST..

SO,YEA,I THINK WE HAVE A CHANCE

JeJe

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

THERE’S A 45 % CHANCE THE HAWKS LOSE THIS SERIES

GET RID OF THIS CORE. IT IS NOT WORKING. WE CANNOT WIN ON THE ROAD

FIRE WOODSON, TRADE BIBBY AND MARVIN FOR DEVIN HARRIS AND YI

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

As if the boo birds weren’t already having enough fun.

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

April 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

I bet Rathbun an Nique trash Woodson off cam.

Taylor

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Rathbun can’t believe we’ll come back

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Ray,

The Hawks are the most predictable team on defense. When the switching is working, it can be a thing of beauty.

But when a good coach figures out how to exploit it, Woody and the players have no answer.

Nique's Revenge

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

LOL rathbun STFU

one more run hahahahaahaha

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Switching seems like a decent strategy to implement when it catches opponents by surprise. But, once coaches watch tapes of how the Hawks execute it, you can see the MANY flaws that it offers. And the Bucks haven’t stopped taking advantage of it since we got here to Milwaukee.

Credit some of it to good shooting. Guys like Illyasova and Delfino were getting those corner 3 looks in games 1 and 2, they just didn’t knock em’ down. They’re much more confident shooting in Milwaukee in front of their homecrowd.

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Man even niques azz can see the switchin D is bad

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Taylor

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

How does Smith only have 4 fts

drmaryb

April 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

INSIDE – Peanut Butter. OUTSIDE – Jelly.

It must be Jelly – Cause Jam don’t shake like that!

Taylor

April 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

nice rebounding

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David

April 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

There’s really no explanation for this one. It’s not like the Hawks have had struggles beating the Bucks in Milwaukee this season. They lost a heart-breaker there by 2 points back when the Bucks had Bogut and won the second meeting there convincingly. Now, all of a sudden they can’t figure it out. This makes no sense.

Big Ray

April 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

There’s Joe on Jennings.

Please Josh, make those free throws.

bigdave

April 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

straight d.. no switch = miss.

Wabe

April 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

Good stuff J.Smith.

nunna!!

April 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

JOSH!! LETS GIVE IT UP YOU HAD MO ON THE WING!!
THIS WILL BE THE TURNING POINT EVERYBODY,I THINK THIS IS NOW GONNA BE HAWK BALL THAT WE PLAY THE FINAL 7:00

O'Brien

April 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

Josh knocking down shots and FTs?

Maybe the Hawks are destined to win this game after all

VenomSpitter

April 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

Can we do better than 1 on 1