Atlanta Hawks: It could be worse

Don’t think so? I give you the Miami Heat.

From Adrian Wojnaworski at Yahoo! Sports:

For now, though, Riley doesn’t need a new coach. He needs to support Spoelstra after allowing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to publicly embarrass and undermine their coach. The losing has created the Riles-to-the-bench hysteria, but James and Bosh had to come out and pop Spoelstra for practicing them too hard and playing them too many minutes.

The Heat lost again on Wednesday night, 104-95 to the Orlando Magic, and that’s three straight now. The greatest free-agent class in NBA history is 8-7. James and Dwyane Wade(notes) still can’t flourish together on the floor, and the Heat, possibly without Udonis Haslem(notes) for the rest of the season, are powerless to protect the basket.

“I like the fact that we are where we are,” Bosh said, trying to convince himself. “We could be 15-0 right now thinking we have the world in the palm of our hands. We would be fooling ourselves.”

It could be that the Hawks are doing the same in thinking they have the group to get it done but clearly they aren’t the only ones searching for something in the East. Just look at the standings.

The Celtics are pretty much rolling if you accept Doc Rivers’ (plausible) explanation that hiccups like losing at Cleveland and Toronto are largely a matter of boredom. Orlando seems to have righted itself after a week or so of angst. It could be the Bulls are fine, too; Bulls.com writer Sam Smith pulled a nugget from NBA TV: Chicago is the only team among the East’s top four whose opponents have a combined winning record. That’s without Boozer.

The Bucks have struggled since blowing out the Hawks. If the Pacers had anything close to the depth of Atlanta’s offensive talent they’d be better than the Hawks. As it is, the Hawks went to Indiana and scored easily despite the Pacers’ aggressive, physical D. That actually might be Atlanta’s best W of the season.

ESPN.com’s John Hollinger takes a stab at ID’ing Atlanta’s issues (Insider). He says Atlanta has played the seventh-easiest schedule and “objectively and subjectively, the Hawks don’t appear anywhere near the team they were a year ago”

He lists his reasons why:

1. J.J.–”Historically, Johnson has played extremely well in December. If he can’t turn it up a notch in the next couple of weeks, it’s time to start worrying. Johnson is taking about as many shots as always — he’s just not making them. At 41.1 percent for the year and a miserable 25.8 percent on 3s, his offensive woes are one reason the Hawks have taken a step backward.”

2. The “frontcourt puzzle”–[Horford] is playing just 31.7 minutes per game, and I wish I had a good reason why. . . . Meanwhile, new coach Larry Drew has also taken a shine to veteran retread Josh Powell. Powell has a lot of positives as an end-of-the-bench guy . . . but he also can’t rebound or finish, though, which is why he’s had single-digit PERs in five of his six NBA seasons, so giving him minutes at the expense of Zaza Pachulia is absurd.”

3. The decline of Jamal: Crawford hasn’t played nearly as well this season, shooting 42.3 percent overall and 30.1 percent on 3s, and he seems weirdly uninvolved in the offense at times. Defensively, he’s been more of a liability than ever. . . . We knew Crawford probably wouldn’t do as well this year, but continued improvement by Josh Smith and Horford should, at the very least, have offset that. Because of the other factors on this list, it hasn’t.”

4. Decline of the D: “Basically, they’ve stopped guarding people. The Hawks weren’t a particularly good defensive team a year ago, especially in transition, but this year they’ve taken another step backward. That’s the opposite of what you’d expect from a crew that’s added another year of experience and cohesion.”

5. The new coach: “Not to put too fine a point on this, but pretty much everything about this year’s Hawks is the same except one. Drew decided to change a few things, most notably that they stop switching so much on D and they stop running so many isolations on offense. It appears both maneuvers have left his troops worse off.”

My short takes:

1. I’m waiting to see on J.J. I don’t know how much of it is the hand. Blaming it on the new offense doesn’t seem logical because, other than the past couple games when he’s forced some one-on-one play, I’ve seen J.J. miss a lot of simple, open shots.

2. The two-foul rule for Al is puzzling. Powell takes a lot of shots and doesn’t rebound consistently. Zaza has had his struggles, too, but against Lopez he showed he can be the kind of physical presence around the rim that Powell was supposed to be.

3. There is a tension between Jamal’s strengths as an attacking player and L.D.’s move to make the Hawks more balanced. Drew let Jamal loose at New Jersey and he had his best offensive game in a minute but also turned the ball over too much.

4. As a group, the Hawks still don’t defend and rebound with conviction. They stop doing it when things get hard. L.D. says he still believes he can get this group to take on that mentality. There’s lots of skepticism about that and I understand it.

5. From a tactical standpoint, the switches were often effective in masking Atlanta’s weaknesses. From a chemistry standpoint, they were damaging because there was less accountability for the guards and frustration for Al and Josh. It’s a bit much to say the Hawks are worst off on offense. They are still among the most efficient teams in the league, and Drew has said the changes are designed to make the Hawks less predictable in the playoffs.

(Drew says the increase in isos lately are because he called for them, so there’s no effort by the players to scrap the motion).

There’s still time for the Hawks to figure things out. If you think they never will, I feel you. I’m going to watch and see what happens and then write about it.

Happy Thanksgiving, blog people. Thanks for caring enough to read my stuff. Try to remember: It’s just basketball.

MC

40 comments Add your comment

Daddilicious

November 25th, 2010
3:56 pm

ejh

November 25th, 2010
3:59 pm

To me the hawks have to realize that this team has got to be built around Josh, Al, Jordan Crawford and maybe Jeff Teague The hawks need to offer up Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams and the trade exception to the Washington Wizzards for Gilbert Arenas. The wizards already have John Wall and Kirk Hinrich at the point so Arenas might be expendable. In the Other deal the hawks need to offer Joe Johnson and Mo Evans to the Pistons for Richard Hamilton and Tayshun Prince.

Now you can have a starting lineup of Arenas, PG; Jamaal Crawford, SG; Josh Smith, SF; Al Horford, PF; Jason Collins, C. The Bench would then be; Teague, Hamilton, Prince, Jordan Crawford, Pachulla, Powell, Thomas, and Pap Sy. This finally gives the Hawks a point guard and some veteran depth on the bench. This team would definintely have a new attitude with winners and a deep bench.

Corey

November 25th, 2010
4:15 pm

EJH, no. Sorry.

Our defense is beyond lazy, and we need a PG who is a fast defender, who can drive to the basket (Teague), but Teague needs more playing time. I’d like to see LD give JC2 some PT at PG.

ejh

November 25th, 2010
4:25 pm

Joe Johnson Has a 6 year deal for 124 million dollars, over his last four games he is averaging about 14 points/game. That is horrible for your return on investment. To get paid that kind of monye either Joe needs to average 21 pts., 6 reb., 7 assts., and 2 steals per game. If he is not going to give that stat line he needs to average 27 – 30 points per game to make up for not doing anythingelse to help the team. The other night Gilbert areans had 19 points and 16 assists, Hawks point guards are averaging a combined 5 assists per game. that is not going to get it done.

Samuel

November 25th, 2010
4:25 pm

Good points MC.
on #1- The new offense “is” affecting JJ. There’s a big difference in running two miles before you take a shot than ISO. Keep it simple, if ISO works, stay with it.

#2- Al is getting in foul trouble because he’s undersized, however, if LD doesn’t sit him and he picks up 3, we likely loose him for the entire half. Bottom line is we need a legit center. Until that happens, keep expecting the same result.

#3-I believe the Hawks players have rebelled and consequently LD has gone back to ISO. Even he can see the handwriting on the wall.

#4- The motion offense has restricted our ability to defend. They just don’t have the energy. I believe I told everyone this would happen. It just won’t work on the NBA level for 48 minutes and 82 plus games. Their legs are gone. LD hinted at it when he questioned what they were doing the night before the games. He said he might have worked them too hard in practice and training camp. Bad thing about it is you really don’t get a real break to rest until the allstar break.

#5- LD backed himself into a corner by trying to distance himself so much from Woody. Again, most teams we played said the “switching” is what separated us from the rest of the league, especially Boston.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I.MUS WRITE

November 25th, 2010
4:25 pm

Dont be tardy for the party……oooohhh ooohhhhh

I.MUS WRITE

November 25th, 2010
4:26 pm

HAPPY THANX GIVING EVERYONE!!!

ejh

November 25th, 2010
4:35 pm

Also Joe Johnson is not a winner, you can not win with loosers. He has his big contract for the next 6 years meaning he is not going to get another big contract. Those all-star appearances was for him to build himself up personally to get this deal. Now that he has it he has no desire to want to win, you can tell he is just going through the motions. Injuries are an excuse, Kobe and Michael Jordan play with far more nagging injuries and were productive. This guy does not have the mental capacity to want to be better and win as a team. He is cheating the fans and the organization. You can not build this team around him and have success.

Gray Mule

November 25th, 2010
4:37 pm

Someone please wake the Hawk starters BEFORE tipoff. This habit of
opening the game, as they have in the past two games, in the sleepwalk
mode is inane.
Having lost the last two because they didn’t wake up in time for the
start of the game cost us dearly.

Gray Mule

Dr.W.

November 25th, 2010
4:44 pm

I’ve been watching the Hawks and the NBA for like forever. Here’s my take on the 2010-11 team.

1) Joe Johnson (nothing personal – he’s probably a fine person) has to be the most over-rated player in the history of the game. Paying him 87 trillion dollars a year is beyond comprehension. He would be a wonderful side-kick player (a la Pippen) to a genuine superstar. But, he is just not himself a superstar.

2) The Hawks look to be exactly the same team they were last year. In the NBA, you are limited by the natural ability of your players. Your coach can read to you from the Bible before the game, but if you’re not a gifted shooter, your shots are not going in.

3) I get so tired of the Hawks TV announcers going crazy every time Joe Johnson hits a shot. He can miss 12 in a row and then hit one and the announcers have orgasms.

4) Re the Boston game the other night: the announcers pre-gamed it as a Boston team that has been dominated by Atlanta in recent times and so, expect more of the same. Boston went on to humiliate the Hawks, leading by 53 point after the first quarter and winning by 400 points. Oh, and by the way it wasn’t that close.

5) The Hawks defense is just like last year: non-existent. Opposing players just dribble down the lane and shoot layups or get fouled all game long. Also, opponents can get a wide-open 3-pointer whenever they want.

6) Re Mike Bibby (again nothing personal – I’ve always liked him): he just can’t play the point anymore. He lost his quickness years ago. He could still be a great shooting guard. There are very talented point guards all throughout the league. Why in the world can’t Atlanta get one?

7) Finally, this team, as currently constructed, is going nowhere: a first round playoff exit if indeed they get that far. And then next year they will still owe Joe Johnson 70 trillion dollars.

ejh

November 25th, 2010
4:45 pm

As far as the hawks weary legs because of the motion offense, I do not believe that. Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen run off screens and double screeens all game long never complain about bein tired. It is conditioning that you have to be in to play at a high level. Rondo, Paul, Williams, Nash, Rose, all have the ball in their hands about 60% of the time running the offense, but they do not use that as an excuse to be tired. It is your will and desire that you have to push through. Loosers make excuses, Winners don’t. If you listen to Kobe Bryant after a lost he never uses fatigue as a reason, He may say we did not defend or rebound or had to many turnovers, but never fatigue.

Genius

November 25th, 2010
4:49 pm

The Hawks need to finally put Jordan Crawford at point guard in place of Teague. Teague is lost.

Tate

November 25th, 2010
4:49 pm

I think the hawks should try to package a deal of JJ and Mike Bibby to Denver for Carmelo the nuggets might go for this deal if the feel they are going to lose Carmelo for sure at then end of the season and would not lose anything in taking in Joe’s huge contract because it would likely take a deal just as big to keep Melo

Najeh Davenpoop

November 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

It could be worse. They could be 13-69.

I generally hate when people talk about their own struggles being OK because others are struggling worse. That doesn’t make one’s own struggles any better. If anything, the Hawks are squandering a golden opportunity to put distance between themselves and the Heat in the standings.

Najeh Davenpoop

November 25th, 2010
4:58 pm

““Not to put too fine a point on this, but pretty much everything about this year’s Hawks is the same except one. Drew decided to change a few things, most notably that they stop switching so much on D and they stop running so many isolations on offense. It appears both maneuvers have left his troops worse off.””

The Hawks are #2 in the league in field goal percentage. I have a hard time seeing how the new offense has left them worse off. The real payoff of the new offense is supposed to be for the playoffs, first of all, since that is where iso bogged down the team and stagnated the offense, but even so far in the regular season the offense has been good.

Defense and toughness are the real problems for this team. The real problem I had with the switching D is that the Hawks never had a plan B when teams (like the Bucks in the first round) figured it out. And anyway, it’s not like the Hawks have completely abandoned the switching D; they spend plenty of time switching even now, especially when Bibby is on the floor.

The defensive problems are more a result of personnel and mentality than they are of scheme.

Najeh Davenpoop

November 25th, 2010
5:00 pm

Oh yeah, and big props to you MC for taking time out of your turkey day to post this blog.

Najeh Davenpoop

November 25th, 2010
5:10 pm

And rebounding too. The Hawks are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Nobody other than Smoove and Al even try to get rebounds, and even those two don’t box out consistently.

Jamal and Marvin for Prince, Ben Wallace, and Chris Wilcox. Make it happen.

The Real Hawk

November 25th, 2010
5:27 pm

Are you saying you would rather have this team or the Heat?
Get real!

Samuel

November 25th, 2010
5:46 pm

Hamilton and Allen run off screens because that’s what they do best. They are exceptions. Bottom line is results are what count and JJ’s numbers are down.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ISO. The problem is that JJ doesn’t get rid of the ball in time to take advantage. The object of every NBA offense is to draw a double team. Once you do that, it’s pretty simple, hit the open man and he either knocks down the jumper or cuts to the basket. Keep it simple.

richbrave

November 25th, 2010
5:59 pm

Currently the D.C. club has been more WIZARDS than WIZZIES winning a few against lower echelon teams. Let’s see if they do so tonight against the HAWKS. McGEE is starting to grow up a bit. NICK YOUNG has actually begun TRYING to play defense. He’s got a ways to go. YI is out, but won’t be missed. AL THORNTON is out, and JOSH HOWARD’s not in, so you may get to see SA reject ALONZO GEE tonight. Probably not though. My bet is SAUNDERS comes out with his famous three guard offense. After being taught a few lessons by the HAWKSTERS however, he’ll probably insert BOOKER who is developing nicely…..again against the lesser teams in the league. Let’s have a clean game. No ELTON BRAND-type shoves from either side. O.K.? It’s THANKSGIVING for cripes sake. HAPPY TURKEY DAY everybody.

Clyde

November 25th, 2010
6:15 pm

The Hawks need to do what Billy Knight did when he first got the job in Atlanta. Lets blow this team up because I think we have gone as far as we can go with this group.

JJ is a 2nd of 3rd option on offense.

Bibby is too old and needs to be coaching on the bench beside Van Exel.

Marvin should be in the Developmental League

Smooth is immature and needs a coach that will stand up to him and teach him the right way to play the game.

Horford is not a center and needs to learn how to play with energy on the defensive end. It seems to me Horford only wants to score.

To sum things up the Hawks got problems.

terrell

November 25th, 2010
6:26 pm

Every trade scenario that doesnt involve either Josh/Al along with Jamal, isnt going to get us the center, sf, or pg we so desire. Most teams wouldnt give up their 2nd or 3rd center for Marvin or Bibby, so leave that one alone from here on out.

terrell

November 25th, 2010
6:30 pm

And Samuel, please stop it with all the I told u so crap. What you want, a cookie? lol! We’re 15 games into the season, and yall are already talking bout I told u so. lol! I told Ken Strick about doing that shizz last week when the Hawks were winning ,and I’m telling you the same thing when they’re not.

i_am_soulstar

November 25th, 2010
6:35 pm

“Try to remember: It’s just basketball.”

If only it were that simple MC.

Sautee

November 25th, 2010
6:49 pm

Clyde,

Yeah, when Horford stuffed Paul Pierce at the rim the other night he was thinking the entire time “when can I shoot next”.

Riiiight.

terrell

November 25th, 2010
6:51 pm

Marvin needs to be at livirae getting something for that big ole booty. He wouldnt make it in the D-League. lol!

Samuel

November 25th, 2010
7:15 pm

Samuel

November 25th, 2010
7:17 pm

Good points MC.
on #1- The new offense “is” affecting JJ. There’s a big difference in running two miles before you take a shot than ISO. Keep it simple, if ISO works, stay with it.

#2- Al is getting in foul trouble because he’s undersized, however, if LD doesn’t sit him and he picks up 3, we likely loose him for the entire half. Bottom line is we need a legit center. Until that happens, keep expecting the same result.

#3-I believe the Hawks players have rebelled and consequently LD has gone back to ISO. Even he can see the handwriting on the wall.

#4- The motion offense has restricted our ability to defend. They just don’t have the energy. I believe I told everyone this would happen. It just won’t work on the NBA level for 48 minutes and 82 plus games. Their legs are gone. LD hinted at it when he questioned what they were doing the night before the games. He said he might have worked them too hard in practice and training camp. Bad thing about it is you really don’t get a real break to rest until the allstar break.

#5- LD backed himself into a corner by trying to distance himself so much from Woody. Again, most teams we played said the “switching” is what separated us from the rest of the league, especially Boston.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Ethan

November 25th, 2010
7:17 pm

This is NOT larry Drew’s fault. When they were executing his ideas, we were 6-0. Its when this team MENTALLY went back to their old ways that things began sliding. You can install anything and it wont work when you have guys like Josh Smith refusing to pass to the PG when dribbling up the floor, or Jamal making a terrible pass, or Joe Johnson refusing to be a leader, etc, etc.

Trade Joe for a big man. Move Horford to Power Forward. Play Teague and Jordan Crawford more (get them ready for the future). Bench josh Smith if he starts shooting 3’s and dribbling the ball around the court. DREW NEEDS TO PUT THE SMACKDOWN ON THESE GUYS…

Samuel

November 25th, 2010
7:28 pm

All that “slick talk” has gotten mighty quiet. That confidence has turned into finger pointing and doubt only 15 games into the season. All of a sudden, a team that was a “lock” to at least finish in the top 4 in the conference is struggling to stay above 500 and make the playoffs.

December is gonna be a long cold month.

I can’t wait to hear Sir Charles’ take on the Hawks tonight.

Harry Hawk

November 25th, 2010
7:29 pm

It’s too bad that personnel and mentality are probably the two most important ingredients to winning in the NBA outside of talent.

If you don’t have the right personnel, you likely do not have the right mentality. They go hand in hand.

richbrave

November 25th, 2010
7:40 pm

Sautee:

I see CLYDE is up to his usual mischief. GO HAWKS.

Hawk n the Ham

November 25th, 2010
7:43 pm

In the meantime, UGA hoops is on ESPN2. If you want to see a team aggressively running a motion offense, Coach Fox has these guys running.

richbrave

November 25th, 2010
7:47 pm

ejh

November 25th, 2010
3:59 pm
To me the hawks have to realize that this team has got to be built around Josh, Al, Jordan Crawford and maybe Jeff Teague The hawks need to offer up Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams and the trade exception to the Washington Wizzards for Gilbert Arenas. The wizards already have John Wall and Kirk Hinrich at the point so Arenas might be expendable.

Dude, ARENAS has four including this season on that horrendous contract that averages 19 mill a year. And he has the opt out at the end of 2012. Whoever would want him will pay way more than he’s worth, and besides, you’ve got to deal with that 10-cent head in addition to that three op knee. Are you really serious?

Clyde

November 25th, 2010
7:56 pm

Sautee:

That block Horford had on Pierce brought him up to 13 on the season. In 15 games played this year he is averaging .9 blocks a game. Nominate him for Defensive Player Of The Year.

JeJe

November 25th, 2010
7:59 pm

THIS SHOULD NOT BE A TOUGH GAME.

IF

U START TEAGUE AND COLLINS OVER BIBBY AND DUCK. MCGHEE AND BLATCHE ARE HUGE DUDES NO HOMO. BIBBY CAN’T DO JACK ON WALL.

START TEAGUE

WHY WHY WHY DO WE NOT EVER CHANGE THE STARTERS?

CHANGE THE STARTING LINEUP FOR ONCE

hawkfan

November 25th, 2010
8:14 pm

hahaha Barkeley: “Hey I want to give a shoutout yea a shoutout to my boy lawrence, he broke his leg from jumping off the Hawks bandwagon” hahaha

terrell

November 25th, 2010
8:30 pm

Marvin cant even post up Arenas. lol!

JeJe

November 25th, 2010
9:21 pm

Excellent first half for everyone, besides Marvin.

This guy sucks. Once he had an easy fats break opportunity, but slowed down because he knows he has no moves.

What a useless basketball player

JeJe

November 25th, 2010
9:23 pm

LOL @ Marvin getting owned by a career bench player (Nick Young)