Bucks at Atlanta Hawks Game 5: Quiet At Home

The Hawks like it here.

The Hawks like it here.

So how much conversation has there been among the Hawks regarding the rumors swirling around Woody’s future with the team?

“That’s the first I’ve heard about it when you told me,” Al said today at shootaround.

In addition to illustrating the often-insular world players occupy, the lack of buzz on the team about Woody’s status demonstrates that the familiar postures haven’t changed.

Rick Sund still is not going to do address Woody’s deal until after the season and there’s no guarantee an offer (even a “low-ball” one as described in the Yahoo! report) is forthcoming. ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr has suggested the Hawks’ postseason will have a bearing on that decision and others. Woody isn’t happy the Hawks haven’t started contract talks and has said so (though he also says he wants to return). The Hawks believe the lack of an extension hasn’t hurt Woody’s ability to coach the team.

The news to come out of the Yahoo! report is that there could be another job out there for Woody if he doesn’t return and the team’s willingness to sell their first-round draft pick for $3 million to raise money to re-sign J.J.. (That everything seems to be Joe-driven is causing great consternation for hawksdawgs at Peachtree Hoops.)

Meanwhile, the Hawks have a playoff series to finish. Asked about the Hawks’ confidence in coming back to Philips Arena, where they’ve won 14 in a row, Al said it “feels good to be back home” but then couldn’t help also talking about the Hawks’ troubles on the road.

“If we had the same swag that we have at home like we have on the road, we’d be a tough team,” he said. “But first we have to handle this game tonight. We are happy to come back here.”

– For all the consternation about the Hawks’ inability to win road playoff games (and I know most of that is because of what it would mean for the next round) this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline summed up Milwaukee’s issues: Bucks must win at least once in Atlanta to advance.

Forget for a minute that four games into the series, the Bucks are talking about what it will take to advance instead of how they can avoid elimination. The Hawks desperately need to win. The way they did that in Games 1 and 2 was by slowing Brandon Jennings and hammering the Bucks with Smoove and Al. Look for Milwaukee to use a similar approach against those two tonight:

The Bucks worked hard to frustrate Hawks center Al Horford and forward Josh Smith in Milwaukee, after those players were dominant in the first two games. Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute defended Smith in Games 3 and 4 after primarily guarding Hawks guard Joe Johnson in Atlanta, and veteran center Kurt Thomas drew the assignment defending Horford.

And the Bucks have relied on help defense, with Jennings and other guards digging down on the ball when the Hawks’ big men begin to make their move in the paint. That did free up Atlanta’s perimeter players in Game 4, and the Hawks hit 10 of 19 three-pointers, led by Mike Bibby, who sank 5 of 7 attempts.

Smith still had 20 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes in Game 4, but he wasn’t getting easy dunks off lob passes the way he did earlier in the series.

“He had a good game, and he scores in a variety of ways,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of the 6-foot-9 Smith, who was booed loudly by the Bradley Center crowd. “We’ve just got to keep him in front of us, try to make him take contested jump shots, try to keep him off the boards.

“We need to keep him from running out in transition, keep him from getting lobs after timeouts. We did that in both home games. Those are areas where at least we can have a little say-so in what he’s doing.”

– Woody has said he uses the switching defense to “hide” weak defenders. Brett LaGree, writing at Hoopinion, agrees but says switching also can make things harder for those weak defenders and the good ones:

It is hard to play good team defense without good defensive players.

Mike Bibby is a poor defender. Jamal Crawford is a terrible defender. Joe Johnson has amply demonstrated he cannot keep Brandon Jennings in front of him. Nor can Johnson fight through a Kurt Thomas screen. It’s no surprise that Mike Woodson has tried to address* these limitations. His singular method of address, to switch every screen, has pushed Josh Smith too often to the perimeter, exposing his primary defensive weakness (lateral movement) while simultaneously negating** his overwhelming strength (help defense).

*We’ll ignore, for the purposes of this discussion, how self-inflicted some of these limitations are.

**This is essentially what Orlando’s stretch 4 does to Smith when the Hawks play, and, typically, lose to the Magic.

MC

677 comments Add your comment

Wabe

April 28th, 2010
12:51 pm

We better thump them tonight.

Ree Roe

April 28th, 2010
12:58 pm

I expect a huge Hawks win tonight. Not because I think they’ve learned anything from Gms 3 & 4 or b/c a loss by the Hawks put them on the brink of elimination. I believe they win simply b/c they’re at home. I assume this series goes 7 simply because it can and because the Hawks lack the intenstinal fortitude to get it done on the road.

-REEgal Roe!!!

Section 303

April 28th, 2010
1:00 pm

I do not agree that Joe has not been able to keep Jennings in front of him. Joe really has not guarded Jennings that often, for one thing. And, in Game 2, Joe locked Jennings up on consecuative defensive series. Brett LaGree = another lazy writer who pays little attention. First SI calls Joe a good “3rd option” last year. Now, some hack is giving him grief for not playing D.

After doing nothing but p#ss and moan about the Hawks since Saturday, I’m starting to get anxious for tonight’s game. I’m worried, though. I do not like hearing all the assumptions that the Hawks will win just because the game is at Philips. Feeling that this game will probably be close. Who knows how the Hawks will respond to that?

Also, wondering how the crowd will react to this game. Will it be loud? Or, are people so down on the team that they either won’t be as loud? Or, will people just not be there? I am betting it is not a sellout tonight. And, if that’s the case, I can’t really get on the fans. The Hawks have done nothing to make people believe they are a different team.

Tired of hearing Hawk players talk about effort being the problem in Milwaukee. I still do not understand how that can be. And, I am still having a hard time getting past last Saturday’s lazy effort. The team was expected to be past all this.

JASon

April 28th, 2010
1:08 pm

The referee situation in the nba is absurd. Did anyone watch the cavs-bulls last night. I agree that we got blown out of game 3, but game 4 was nothing but acting on the part of the bucks, and lots of bias from the refs.

NC Braves Fan

April 28th, 2010
1:09 pm

So what’s the proper defensive adjustment if the switch is not optimum with this particular collection of players and their skill sets?

Hawks73

April 28th, 2010
1:11 pm

I believe most of the fault can be laid on Woodson. In any playoff series it’s about match ups and adjustments. The Hawks don’t have the ability to switch personal and make another team adjust to them. The truth lies in Woody’s stubborn a!! and his unwillingness to develop/use his bench during the regular season. Now, when you need a quick- defensive minded player in the game (like Teague), you can’t use him because he hasn’t been battle tested (with regular season action). The rest of the bench is more than serviceable, but not being used PROPERLY as a asset…oh well, Woody will lose this series and be out next year (along with Joe Johnson).

Mel

April 28th, 2010
1:27 pm

the playoffs are about adjusting and advance. i saw a video of woodson and he said the playoffs are about repeating over and over. well, if they stop what works stop repeating! i hate woodson and marvin

O'Brien

April 28th, 2010
1:30 pm

Section 303,

JJ cannot keep up with Jennings for the entire game. He can keep up with him in stretches, but that would take too much out of JJ defensively, and we will need him to be fresh on offense.

CrazyDiamond

April 28th, 2010
1:30 pm

Focus on beating the Bucks. “Cause Woody, you are gone no matter what happens.

Unless we make the NBA Finals.

atlienforlife

April 28th, 2010
1:30 pm

What I can’t understand is why a supposed defensive minded head coach, cannot come up with more schemes than a constant switching defense that leave us exposed (zone maybe). Also wasn’t joe smith brought in for the playoffs and he gets no playing time in game four, especially with Horford in foul trouble all night. Hmmm..

VenomSpitter

April 28th, 2010
1:31 pm

Woody doesn’t realize this is Chess it isn’t Checkers. U gotta have a strategy.

northcyde

April 28th, 2010
1:32 pm

Sec 303 . . I hear what you’re saying about the fans. But if they don’t show up tonight . . for a critical playoff game . . then move the team to Louisville or somewhere. As a “fan”, you don’t pull that bandwagon type ish in the MIDDLE OF THE PLAYOFFS.

I know you’ll be there, because you’re one of the loyal ones. I tried my best to make the 300 mile trip tonight to Philips Arena, but I won’t be able to do it.

As for the rest of your post, you’re right. I guess Legree doesn’t see that they’re screening JJ every chance they get, in order to get Horford or some other big matched up on Jennings.

For me though, I’ll believe it when I see it, if the Bucks can win a game in Philips. They won’t be scared, but they also know that if the series is to be won by them, they need to take THIS GAME, and then try to close it out in Game 6 in Milwaukee.

I expect a win tonight, much like what happened in Game 2. I expect the Hawks to really be sharp tonight. And watch . . . the switching defense will WORK for some reason at home.

Nacho

April 28th, 2010
1:33 pm

In other words, good coaches are exploiting our tendancies (we are getting out coached).

northcyde

April 28th, 2010
1:34 pm

Just have to throw multiple looks at Jennings tonight, in my opinion. Let’s see if the kid can handle a little pressure and is smart enough to make the right play, if you throw different looks at him.

JeJe

April 28th, 2010
1:41 pm

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
1:42 pm

Hawks73,
Great assessment. I hope you’re wrong on the end result (Hawks losing the series) but a series victory just isn’t a given anymore.

merbertmoover

April 28th, 2010
1:42 pm

man the hawks better spread them bucks like butter on a bagel, u know what im sayin?

JeJe

April 28th, 2010
1:44 pm

HOW HARD IS THIS? BOSTON USED TONY ALLEN

USE FREAKING MARIO WEST TO SWARM BRANDON JENNINGS. HE WON’T LET THE GUY BREATHE OUT THERE. JUST LOOK AT MARIO CLIPS ON YOUTUBE

WHY HAVE NO REPORTERS ASKED WOODY ABOUT USING TEAGUE OR MARIO?

WHY DO WE HAVE THE SAME !@#$ING ROTATION EVERY GAME? WOODSON USES THE SAME PLAYERS WHETHER THEY SUCK OR NOT. START MO EVANS AND BRING MARIO OFF THE BENCH. DO NOT USE MARVIN

JeJe

April 28th, 2010
1:47 pm

THE HAWKS OWNERS ARE SO POOR THEY HAVE TO LOWBALL A !@#$%Y HEAD COACH AND SELL A PICK JUST TO RESIGN A PLAYER WHO ISN’T EVEN A SUPERSTAR!
LOL

FIRE WOODY

Grandad

April 28th, 2010
1:48 pm

I disagree with Mr. LaGree:
“Mike Bibby is a poor defender. Jamal Crawford is a terrible defender.”

In my opinion:
Mike Bibby cannot defend anyone [anymore]. Jamal is a willing defender.
Jamal’s rep is that he is a horrible defender, but since he arrived here, it seems to me he has made a concerted effort to improve.
Poor old Bibby, physically, is just is not up to the task anymore.

*Solution – we do have a defender quick enough to stay in front of Jennings. We all know who he is [J.Teague]. Yes – Wdsn is stubborn.

jon

April 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

C’mon hawks, Take care of business already! Embarresing that Boston series is done. We do not look like a 3 seed! Wake up and Grow up. Gee Wiz!

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

Grandad,
We have two defenders quick enough to stay in front of Jennings. JT0 and MWest. And yes – Wdsn is stubborn.

O'Brien

April 28th, 2010
1:52 pm

Woody is a defensive minded coach, who continuously preaches defense. But it seems to me (and my untrained basketball eye), that whenever a team figures out how to exploit the switching defense (like Milwaukee did, like Charlotte did, like the Spurs did, just to name a few), I haven’t seen any adjustments from Woody.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but his defensive adjustment is to tell the players that they need to rotate faster, or defend with more energy. What about trying a zone defense? Trying to D up man to man? Or switch everything except Bibby’s guy (for example)? Is switching the only kind of defense Woody knows? And how do you know something else wont work if you never try it?

My two cents: If Teague had gotten more PT during the season, then he would not be such a liability when he comes into the game. And his defense would be a change of pace for the opponent. (Keep in mind, Jameer Nelson lit up the Bobcats. If he is on, Bibby and the Hawks will be in even more trouble next round).

But Woody was so concerned about the regular season record, that he ignored the possibility of what might happen in the playoffs. What happens if Bibby is not making shots? What happens if one of our guards get hurt?

That being said, I expect the Hawks to win big tonight.

Woody Is Rotten

April 28th, 2010
1:54 pm

Woodson should have been fired after last year. I’ve never seen a team so unprepared as the Hawks were this past Saturday. A high school basketball coach could be randomly picked to coach the Hawks and do, at a minimum, no worse than Woody and probably much better. Either the players are incredibly dumb and unable to grasp the concept of making adjustments as the game goes on, or the coach hasn’t prepared them. Woody must go.

JeJe

April 28th, 2010
1:55 pm

WOODSON SAID HE OVERPLAYED JOE LAST YEAR SO HE’D GET AN ALL STAR BERTH
ALL WOODY CARES ABOUT IS REGULAR SEASON RECORD

HE HAS NO DEFENSIVE SCHEMES, BUT CLAIMS TO BE A DEFENSIVE COACH. WATCH HOW MANY PLAYERS WERE OPEN IN GAME 4 ON P&RS. YOU HAD GADZURIC DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT AND BACK BEFORE A HAWKS DEFENDER REALIZED HE WAS OPEN

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
1:55 pm

Well said O’Brien. I agree with you 100%.

Hawks Hack

April 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

Blah… Blah … Blah. Accrodning to the definition of Leadership “the ability to guide, direct, or influence people”, Woodson falls very short in this regard. 2 All-Stars, 1 “should-be” All-Star and a Sixth man of the Year roster losing to a starless Bucks roster is downright pathetic!! When is Atlanta ever going to see another Championship team… I’ literally getting depressed about this!

EW

April 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

Kirk Thomas is a flopping Pu$$y..he needs to take that crap to the soccer field with the dives and acting…

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
2:08 pm

lol @ EW. Can’t be mad. He’s doing what he has to do to get the win. Hawks need to do the same.

decatur g (formerly known as Marcus)

April 28th, 2010
2:18 pm

My issue/fear with tonite:We don’t have the defensive game plan or personnel to stop a late dribble-drive (and/or kick-out) with B. Jennings running the point.

So far all 4 games have been one-sided for the HOME team … we are overdue for a close game in this series … and I don’t wanna face the prospects of being down 3-2 with Game 6 in MIL.

My worry gene is in overdrive.

merbertmoover

April 28th, 2010
2:20 pm

man the hawks better spread them bucks like JeJe momma legz, know what im sayin?

decatur g (formerly known as Marcus)

April 28th, 2010
2:21 pm

Also, MIL figured out that by going small (by virtue of Bogut’s injury) that they have the personnel and player types to run us ragged like some of our reg. season losses vs. lesser teams (thinking esp. NYK and DET).

lewis

April 28th, 2010
2:31 pm

Hawks are too unpredictable.

It makes no sense to play Mike Bibby for several reasons:

1. He is an inconsistent scorer. Aside from hitting threes in the first quarter, rarely does he provide more than 4-9 points.

2. His defense is appalling. He’s too slow to cover any decent point guard in this league. off the top of my head Jason Kidd (37) and Andre Miller (34) are much faster and in much better shape. Both are leaders and they rack up assists on a nightly basis. Bibby would have to score 20 points a night just to even out all the open looks he gives his opponents on a nightly basis.

Say what you will about the unseasoned rookie, but Teague can stay in front of his man, and he doesn’t look to score. He’s a creative passer and can bring most of the things Jennings brings. Jennings is so damn inconsistent, all you’ve got to do is get a body on him. thats impossible do with Bibby in the game.

3. Too slow to run the fast-break, which Hawks need night in and night out in order to win ball games. He slows the offense down, because he is slow, and we’re not a great half-court team.

I hate Mike Bibby. Al Horford at Center is a very minor issue compared to Bibby at point guard. This is a point guard league, and we aint got one.

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
2:32 pm

We need a Matt “Choke” Ryan on these blogs to liven them up. Maybe a Mike “Clueless” Woodson?

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
2:37 pm

Lewis,

I think we actually do have a point guard that would probably be pretty good at this point had he not been underused during the regular season. JT0 is a good distributor, fast enough to run the break (heck he might outrun his wing players along with the defense), and quick enough to cause Jennings some frustration. He has a decent jumper judging from his days at Wake, but it is unproven against NBA level defense and will continue to be until he gets more playing time.

Ken Strickland

April 28th, 2010
2:41 pm

GRAMDAD-that had to be a misprint. Bibby is the one that’s a horrible defender. Crawford makes up for all of his DEF shortcomings with his consistent and dynamic overall OFF production. Until Crawford is allowed to fight over picks and play his man straight up, we can’t determine how much his DEf has or hasn’t improved.

If Woodson was able to think and reason beyond his limitations, he’d recognize the advantage of having Horford feed JJ on the post rather than the other way around. JJ is a matchup problem for anyone they use to guard him in the post, while Horford is having problems scoring in the paint against KThomas. In the 1st gm in Milwaukee, Horford also had trouble in the paint against KThomas, but then he went outside and lit him up.

Playing Horford outside will take Thomas away from the basket and hurt their rebounding. You’d think Woodson would have enough sense to see the Bucks fighting over our picks and getting all those illegal pick calls against Horford and Zaza. If we fight over their picks, instead of switching everything, we can get those same illegal pick calls.

Isn’t it ironic that Woodson, who has an obvious bias and disdane for rookie PG’s, is too stupid and incompetent to come up with a way to stop a rookie PG from shredding his teams DEF. What makes it even more ironic is the fact his only possible solution is JTeague, a rookie PG sitting on his bench that he refuses to even play. STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!!!!!

TigerWoods

April 28th, 2010
2:41 pm

What a pretty day to be outside and a round of golf.

Ree Roe – Any one who thinks game tonight is easy, are smoking something. This will be a tough fight. Bucks are full of confidence. we have no center. That is a problem. This will not be easy my kiddie friends. get a true center, and life will get easier. Let’s see if Al can battle someone twice his age.

WJ

April 28th, 2010
2:41 pm

I believe that Hawks biggest problem is when they take too much time off the clock trying to set up a score and then usually have to throw up a prayer shot. They need to move the ball more quickly on the offensive end and take the first shot that is open. They need to be able to slow down the Bucks offense and make them force more shots. If they do these two things then you will see a great result.

WJ

April 28th, 2010
2:46 pm

Oh, yeah I would like to see Marvin sit down and ZAZA fill the center role with Smitty, Joe, Horford, and Bibby/Crawford starting. I believe this would create a jam for the Bucks shooters.

Rod from College Park

April 28th, 2010
2:48 pm

Grandad,

First time we have agreed. How could Legree say Bibby is a poor defender, and Jamal is a terrible defender. Has he watched the Hawks any this year. Jamal is not a strong defender at all, but he is better defensively than Bibby at this point.

Section 303

April 28th, 2010
2:49 pm

O’Brien, I agree with you that the reason Joe has not been guarding Jennings is to save his energy. My problem with the hack (LaGree) is that he said Joe had not shown the ability to keep Jennings in front of him. Joe has. Just doesn’t get the chance to very often.

northcyde, I wish you were going to be in the arena, too. You deserve it. Your attitude is great. Wish I could get my attitude to stay so positive when the Hawks tank. W tonight would help my view of the team a great deal.

They can’t lose this series. They just can’t! The Hawks have come too far to go down like this. I don’t even want to see what would happen if they do go down.

WJ

April 28th, 2010
2:51 pm

Woody will definitely be gone unless the Hawks win this series. Count on it.

Westurd

April 28th, 2010
2:52 pm

Can a True Hawks Fan really be surprised the series is tied 2-2? I mean really surprised? It hurts and its bothersome and we thought we were over this up, but really, are you surprised? Frustrated, yes. Surprised, no.

WJ

April 28th, 2010
2:52 pm

Still talk on ESPN today about Joe going to the Bulls as a free agent. What do the rest of you think?

D-Block

April 28th, 2010
2:53 pm

Forget stopping Jennings as a scorer. He is the engine that runs the Bucks machine. Let him score from long-range however he wishes but don’t allow him to get the others involved by getting into the lane where he can either have an easy shot, dish, or allow an easy putback by the Buck whose defender had to slide over and help on Jennings. He is not a great long-range shooter so let him have at it. If he makes some, no problem. He had 20 points and no assists at halftime of Game 1 we see how that game turned out. If he scores from deep, it will feed his ego and he can shoot them right out of the game. Just lock everyone else down. Also, force Jennings to go right as his tendency is to create things to the left. Just DO NOT let Delfino or Salmons get off and we’ll be fine. (Well as fine as we can be with Woody coaching)

WJ

April 28th, 2010
2:55 pm

Westurd: No I’m not surprised at it being tied 2-2. I’m am disappointed though because the Hawks don’t show up on the road. That means we will never win a championship at that rate.

BirdDawg

April 28th, 2010
2:59 pm

“Isn’t it ironic that Woodson, who has an obvious bias and disdane for rookie PG’s, is too stupid and incompetent to come up with a way to stop a rookie PG from shredding his teams DEF. What makes it even more ironic is the fact his only possible solution is JTeague, a rookie PG sitting on his bench that he refuses to even play. STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!!!!!”

From your lips to Woodson’s ears Ken Strickland. Or rather from your blog to Woodson’s eyes.

Lacsho

April 28th, 2010
3:07 pm

Grandad-

I’ve watched every game and recorded most of the games. Jamal is a horrible defender. Next game watch Smooth snap on Jamal for missing his assignment (it happens every game). Watch Woody snap on Jamal at the begining of a timeout. I’ve seen JJ shake his head when Jamal missed his defensive assignment. When it comes to defense Jamal is clueless.

Bottom line Jamal is a scorer and thats it!!!!!!

nique

April 28th, 2010
3:10 pm

I hope the Hawks lose this series so the owners will opt not to re-sign Woody.

O'Brien

April 28th, 2010
3:20 pm

Although Jamal is a bad defender, I think he is a better defender than Bibby. The only thing that bibby does better than Jamal is funnel the opponent in the direction of the help defense.

WJ,

JJ would be a great fit in Chicago. He would not have to handle the ball so much, and Rose would get him easy shots.

Plus Noah and Gibson are 2 young frontcourt guys with potential, and they have Deng and Hinrich.