– The Magic swept the Hawks. The total losing margin of 101 points is the largest in NBA history for a four-game sweep. The Hawks were booed in their own arena.
– They hope all of that doesn’t define their season.
– “We are disappointed at the series,” Smoove said, “but we can’t let a bad series overturn all the good we did the whole entire season. Coming into the postseason we thought we could do something special but we couldn’t get it done.”
– “I told [teammates] to keep their heads up regardless what they say about us,” J.J. said. “We had a hell of a year. It wasn’t a good series, but the whole season was good.”
– “I’m proud of our basketball team and what we’ve accomplished this season,” Woody said. “We did a lot of good things this season. I’m happy in the direction the team is going. Sure we have to get better. But it’s a big jump from the first round to the second, third and Finals. We’re still learning.”
– Clearly there wouldn’t be so many sour feelings about the Hawks if they had competed in this series. There is no way taking two franchise-worst beatings in a four-game series is going to leave them on good terms with their fans. At this point, the Bobcats can claim to be closer to the Magic’s level than the Hawks.
– Of course it also didn’t help that the Hawks gave lackluster effort in two games. Josh’s antics (he was looking at the Kiss Cam during one timeout) and J.J.’s comments about fans just added to the ill feelings.
– Still, 53 wins isn’t easy and not something the Atlanta Hawks have done very often. When I see some of my blog people talking about how they should have won 60 (shoot, I’ve even seen 65) I start to wonder. The Hawks are a talented team but, as I’ve said, it’s more physical talent than basketball talent, if you know what I mean. Of course you do, because you’ve watched this team play longer than me.
– No matter what you think of him as a coach, it’s indisputable that Woody is speaking the truth when he says: ““Whatever happens, whether I am here or somewhere else, this team is in a better place than before I got here. That means a lot to me and my staff.”
– Also true is if Woody doesn’t come back because of high expectations, they are expectations he helped create . “I would like to think that,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t think we get the credit because the media is so brutal on coaches. It’s awful. But I’m not going to let that send me in a tizzy or send me the other way because I can hold my head high for what I’ve done in six years.”
– He says he still wants the job: “I would love to stay. I started this six years ago and I would like to finish it.”
– Joe was non-committal about his future, saying he hasn’t thought about the factors that will go into his decision or which teams he might consider. But he said he hasn’t ruled out a return to the Hawks. “I will take some time off, clear my head and spend some time with my family. I am sure I will sit down with my agent in the next couple weeks and see what’s out there.”
– Fans booed J.J. during the game and when he left the floor for the final time. “It don’t bother me,” Joe said. “I’ve got thick skin.”
– Why does he think he had such a bad series? “[It's] a number of things I’d rather not talk about,” J.J. said. “Like I said, no excuses.”
– Asked if he was injured, Joe said: “No.”
– Don’t forget that the Hawks played what has looked like the best team in the league for two months. The Magic are deep, talented and committed. “One thing I’m real confident in with our team is our mental preparation,” Stan Van Gundy said. “I know our energy and intensity will be there. When we get beat, it’s not been because we’ve not been ready to play. As a coach, that’s about the best thing you can say.”
– “Just watch and see their level of intensity they play with,” Al said. “That defines their team. They’re a championship-caliber team. Just take that in and play like that for next season. It takes a whole lot of effort. It’s almost to the point where you have to make yourself feel uncomfortable out there. We didn’t have that this year. With some of our guys when fatigue set in, everybody kind of shied away from it.”
– That’s the kind of thing Woody means when he says the Hawks are still learning how to win. Woody never could get the Hawks to that level this season. It’s too simple to say that’s due to his failures as a coach. The Hawks need better depth–more “bonafide pieces” as Woody says. They need more leadership in the locker room and maybe a different mix of personalities. Otherwise, if Woody doesn’t return the next coach could run into some of the same problems.
– Also remember that it’s tough for any NBA coach to succeed when players know his job security is shaky. That’s just the truth in this league. It’s easier for a player to tune out a coach if he knows he can just wait him out and eventually he could be gone.
– Despite their flaws, the Hawks won 53 games and made it to the second round. “We was playing confident all season long, and we thought we could give them a good fight,” Josh said. “But they are playing great basketball. We never did bring our ‘A’ game.”
– “It’s disappointing, but I feel like I left it all out there and gave all I had,” Al said. “I wish it could have turned out better.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.