Let’s assume the deficiencies L.D. keeps pointing out to the Hawks on to (so far) no avail really are about energy and effort and not simply a matter of not having the right players to do these tasks.
I hear some my blog people saying they are tired of hearing about a lack of effort from the Hawks, and I feel you. Shouldn’t it be a given that professional basketball players effort to block out, get rebounds, run back in transition and do the “dirty” work that L.D. says they haven’t been doing while losing close games to good teams?
“You would think so, but obviously it’s not,” L.D. said. “But that’s my job to keep enforcing it and reinforcing it and showing it on tape and drilling them and getting it to the point where those things become habit-forming.”
Mo, drawing on his perspective from playing for teams like Detroit and Orlando, agrees with the “need more effort” line of thinking.
“It has been like that for the last three years I have been here,” he said. “I used to always wonder when I played for the Magic, when we had some success against the Hawks and [some of his other] former teams: Why is it that this team is so athletic and so talented but yet couldn’t really get over the hump? Now that I’ve been here it is just, in my opinion, a matter of us playing harder for longer periods of time.
“Utah outplayed us in stretches. They didn’t outplay us the whole game, just in key stretches that made the difference. It’s a matter of will. It’s imposing a will on your opponent. Either you impose your will on them or they impose it on you. That’s what Utah did in those last few plays.”
L.D. said Utah “won’t get beat in physicality and toughness” but maybe that’s because Utah is a tough and physical team and the Hawks, despite their best efforts, are not. This isn’t a new thought, I know–AJC wise guy Jeff Schultz tells me they’ve been saying that about the Hawks in these parts for years, and L.D. acknowledges that this same group of players has heard the same speech for a long time.
“They’ve heard it over and over again,” he said today. “They will probably hear it again after this game. But I have to keep harping on it. Dirty work is not a ’sometime’ thing. It has to be all the time.”
L.D. is resolute in his belief that the Hawks have the potential to be tougher, that if they can just recognize their lapses in effort and intensity they can develop those traits. It’s why he said he wouldn’t make any “drastic changes” with his lineup or his methods and instead would continue to point out his team’s mistakes and hold players accountable.
So far, that’s included calling out guys in the video room: “Not trying to embarrass anybody, just pointing out these are things we need to do as a team and individuals so we can move forward.”
L.D. said he would closely watch Marvin’s matchup with Beasley because Marvin might not yet be up to speed on his conditioning.
J.J. missed practice Saturday due to illness but is in the starting lineup.