Atlanta Hawks: Quietly making their case for respect

Miami–Both before and immediately after the Hawks beat the Heat, L.D. and his players claimed to reporters not to care that they don’t get more buzz.

Don’t believe them.

Long after inquiring reporters left, and with most of the team already on the bus, a couple Hawks players and a staffer talked about the W. They speculated that stories about the game would focus more on the Heat losing than the Hawks winning. They joked that ESPN’s ticker would probably show the score, some stats for LeBron and Wade, note Miami’s losing streak and then flash the next score.

“And now on to Memphis!” one of them joked.

The truth is the Hawks, like all competitive alpha males, do want accolades and respect. To their credit, they’ve never complained that they deserve more of either. They understand they have more to prove. They beat the Heat with a tough effort but they are still just 5-9 against opponents with winning records (though they notably beat the last two on the road while Miami is now 2-5 against Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Orlando).

The Hawks are now a half-game behind Chicago for fourth in the East. Even if the Hawks keep rolling, they have to know that for many casual observers the lasting memory is that surrender to Orlando last spring. For those watching them closely now, games like that ugly loss to Houston, which immediately followed the stirring victory at Utah, make them wonder if the Hawks are for real.

So for now the Hawks aren’t publicly making the case that they should be in the conversation with Boston and Miami as true contenders. But they do notice that they haven’t gotten much love despite staying among the East’s top five all year even as the injuries piled up.

Will beating Miami change the perception of the Hawks?

“Maybe,” Jamal said. “But we like being under the radar, honestly. We kind of like creeping and doing our thing that way. Nobody talks about us. That’s good as long we we keep racking up the wins.”

“We are content with staying under the radar and just keep trying to play consistent basketball,” Smoove said. “We’ve been pretty good as of late. We are getting guys healthy and we are figuring out a way to play together.”

Of course all this respect stuff won’t mean much in the end. The Hawks will either prove their worth in the playoffs or they won’t and then earn praise or criticism based on those results. Right now this is all just fodder for discussion among NBA media, fans and–as that scene in the locker room late last night showed–the Hawks.

MC

222 comments Add your comment

Mike is back

January 19th, 2011
3:03 pm

I’m first!!!!

JeJe

January 19th, 2011
3:06 pm

rr

January 19th, 2011
3:08 pm

Trade of Marvin and Jamal to Denver for Carmelo would work. Would you offer the Nuggets this package, along with a 1st for a run at championship?

JeJe

January 19th, 2011
3:08 pm

I feel like i see this exact same blog every year.

The last 2 years we were the 4 and 3 seeds and players talked about how they were glad they were under the radar

blah blah blah

CHoke in 2nd round this year (if we get there) for sure if we are 4 seed, maybe win a game or 2 against Miami, depending on if Duck is healthy

Jerry West

January 19th, 2011
3:08 pm

They joked that ESPN’s ticker would probably show the score, some stats for LeBron and Wade, note Miami’s losing streak and then flash the next score.

I believe that’s exactly what I saw on their ticker a few minutes after the game.

At the end of the day, as I told a Falcons fan friend of mine around Christmas, win in the playoffs and you’ll get all the respect you want.

rr

January 19th, 2011
3:09 pm

Bibby, JJ, Carmelo, JSmoove, Horford

JeJe

January 19th, 2011
3:10 pm

Not a knock on MC – it’s a knock on the team for saying the same thing every year and sucking in the Playoffs

ILL-Logical

January 19th, 2011
3:10 pm

MC: Will any Hawks be named to the ALL STAR game?

Mike is back

January 19th, 2011
3:13 pm

If the Hawks continue to persevere…through adversity and bad calls…and execute their game plan when the game is hanging in balance…IT’S NO DOUBT ABOUT…THEY CAN BE ONE OF THE TOP TEAMS IN THE EC.

Did I mention…I finally made first…I’m execited.lol

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FunkyBobbyJ

January 19th, 2011
3:17 pm

Anyone who is anyone makes the playoffs in the NBA – the regular season just barely counts. I love the Hawks, but they gotta do something in the playoffs besides fold up the tent to a tougher opponent. It is time to quit yapping about potential and it’s time to put up or shut up. Folks, we do not need Carmelo – we need a point guard that can play defense and breakdown the other team’s defense. When your power forward has a better chance of staying with the other team’s point guard than our own point – there is a serious problem heading into the playoffs regardless of how well he shoots spot up jumpers.

Freshmaker

January 19th, 2011
3:46 pm

RR, of course we would do it, but you’d have to give Denver like four #1 picks. NO WAY they take that deal.

NCBravesFan

January 19th, 2011
3:59 pm

I think you could make a pretty solid argument that the Heat as constructed today will have a difficult time reaching the ECF let alone the NBA Finals. And yet they have garnered a lot of the media oxygen in the conference simply because a bunch of twits in Bristol, Cantconnectthedots deemed them worthy of the attention.

Their storyline is interesting, but does anyone seriously look at them as championship material at this point in time?

As for the Hawks, they should use the lack of attention/respect as motivation and just play their butts off.

HWJ

January 19th, 2011
4:05 pm

Ill-logical… I like Horford as a shoe in for East- All Stars. Howard will be the starter, but look for Al to back him up. The east not very deep at the center position. Joe will most likely make the All-Star team as well as there is denying it he has had a sizzling three weeks. Smooth having another great year, but east is stacked at sf/pf. Bibby and Jamal will not make, but have had good years. Marvin well don’t get me started on Marvin.

ATL FAN

January 19th, 2011
4:10 pm

Fnatastic effort especially after Horford went down with the ankle injury. Mo stepped up big time for us, and we need more bench production out of him and hopefully Marvin when he comes back and not just Jamal in order to compete with the “elite” teams, and in order to be considered an ELITE team. GO HAWKS!!!

Trojan

January 19th, 2011
4:12 pm

Does ESPN have ownership in the Miami Heat team? Why is the leading story each night simply an update on the progress of a Heat game? Why do NBA refs love to call a foul on whoever is guarding LeBron even before he starts his drive?

It was not a bad pick

January 19th, 2011
4:14 pm

Glad to see Joe Max playing good ball…Drew still is playing guys out of position..Al at C..Jamal at backup pg?..and not playing his young guys…but the Hawks are taking advantage of a string of bad teams..that is what a good team does…..

HWJ
“Marvin well don’t get me started on Marvin.”

I will for you, When he comes back the Hawks should free this man and get the ball in his hand often…When Joe was hurt Marvin showed everyone why the Bucks had to think very hard about that #1 pick….

jerrywest

January 19th, 2011
4:17 pm

Horford is by far the 2nd best center in the NBA. Check the ESPN PER. Amare and TD are listed as Forwards for All Star voting.

HWJ

January 19th, 2011
4:27 pm

It was not a bad pick…. How can you say that? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_NBA_Draft

1.Bogut
2. Marvin
3. deron williams
4.cp3
5. raymond felton

Not to mention Bynum went 10th overall. Awful pick… Do you know what holds this team back a point guard…. there is a chance all three of those pgs will be all-stars this year. Marvin is a sixth man on a good team, and fifth starter on any other team. Hell I would take an aging Grant Hill or CJ Miles from Utah over him.

oldmike

January 19th, 2011
4:45 pm

the larger issue here is what would Woody have done to regeess CP3 and Deron. He was/is a rookie killer.

Art Vandelay

January 19th, 2011
4:49 pm

Marvin was chosen before two hall-of-fame caliber point guards. He wasn’t a bad pick; he was a godawful pick.

Nathan

January 19th, 2011
5:01 pm

Thanks rr that what im talking about.

Rufus1

January 19th, 2011
5:08 pm

Respect..

I don’t need no stinking respect….I just need wins!

28-15 13games over .500…14-9 on the road, 2nd best road record in the NBA. Just keep doing what you do.

lukas

January 19th, 2011
5:31 pm

It was not a bad pick,

You are right. Hawks should free MW… and send him to china. Maybe the monks can straight his back.

Marvin Who

January 19th, 2011
5:34 pm

MC, the Hawks are already in 4th slot, they are a half game back of the Bulls for the 3rd seed. Despite not having #24 on the floor the past two weeks, that is damn good, in my book, even better than last year! Rick Sund, find someone to take Marvin, please, heck I’ll even trade him for Acie Law IV!!!

william cranman

January 19th, 2011
5:42 pm

Who is Smoove? And why no last names? This is a major newspaper after all. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that. Seems odd and unprecedented.

vava74

January 19th, 2011
5:43 pm

I don’t question the fact that Marvin was not a good pick for us but how can all these dimwicks around here forget that if we had selected Paul or Deron our record would have (probably) improved quicker and all subsequent picks and trades would be different.

Namely, we would not have Horford.

With this I sm not saying that I prefer to have Al over Paul or Deron. I’m not even giving an opinion on the matter.

Simply, it’s not a matter of swapping Marvin for any of those two guys.

It just isn’t.

So shut the F**K up with all that “oh we just need a PG… Oh if we had selected Paul or Deron over Marvin!”

It’s the past and you:

A) can’t change it;
B) even if you did, you would not be able to “pick and chose” what you wanted to modify and what you wanted to keep.

jlewis

January 19th, 2011
5:54 pm

Have we forgotten, Al is not a center, so he can’t make the all star team in that spot. lol

rr

January 19th, 2011
5:55 pm

I do think that Denver would have to think about an offer of Marvin Williams, Jamal Crawford, and a 1st round pick for Carmelo Anthony. Jamal has an expiring contract that gives them the money to go after young talent with next year, or as another trade piece to a contender this year for young talent. Marvin Williams could be a major building piece for a young team. A first rounder could always help with the rebuilding process. Three to four young players for a player with an expiring contract, that cannot be resigned has to be thought about.
As far as the Hawks, it makes them a much tougher matchup in the playoffs. As constructed the Hawks are a very good team that has NO CHANCE of winning the East. They would be giving up a lot of the future to “go for it” this year.
It would be very exciting!

drmaryb (*_*)

January 19th, 2011
5:55 pm

Reposted from last blog for The Dukester:
You asked what is my definition of a true Center?
______________________________

Dukester

A True Center is more of a Proto-Type! If you could go into a laboratory with a pen and a pad? Your Center would look like Shaq in his prime!
You can fill in the _____________ with about 25 other names here as well.

Mammoth
Un-movable
Defend his position
Block shots
Rebound
Score (20/10 minimum)
40 + mins/per game
Plays with his back to the basket
A variety of low post moves (hooks, drop-step, dunks, base-line jumper)
10 – 12 Years service time minimum
Rugged

And, all the other teams in the League can “fuggidabout it!” Because, they ain’t NEVER gonna’ beat your team in the post! Don’t even think about penetrating the painted area.

The defense is so sick down there, the center just bends over and peel back the paint and pull out: Bricks, Chain-Saws, pickle jars, baseball bats and Nim-Chucks from under the floor, and bash anybody in the head who is dumb enough to come in there!”
_________________________

I just described the Pistons “Bad-Boys” of the ’80’s! They had Mahorn and Lambieer back then. The NBA and Stern won’t let them play like that anymore. The game is soft now. But, you get the picture – Dukester!

Proto-Type Centers are NOT tweeners and PF/C players. When you see a real Center? You Know you seeing one!

You already know the deal! And, you damn sure know:
Jason Thompson and Dalembert ain’t no damned Centers!
Let’s – Keep it Real on here!

swatlantadolfan

January 19th, 2011
6:03 pm

This team is different…..they are well coached and unselfish.If I were the top teams in the East,I would be a little concerned.Let’s just see how things play out,but I do see a major difference in this team and it had nothing to do with the won lost record

drmaryb (*_*)

January 19th, 2011
6:04 pm

Melo – Marvin!

Denver don’t want no damned Marvin after having had Melo! Marvin is not a player you build around. Even Al Davis at 180 years old ain”t that senile!
________________________

That’s like trading in a Rolls Royce and being happy replacing it with a Toyota Camry. Whoever said that ISH up there? If you had some rhythm?

I could teach you how to Dougie!

Rufus1

January 19th, 2011
6:09 pm

Vava

My problem is that they act like Marvin has no value to this team. Josh said his legs were “like jelly going against those screens”…He shot 4-20 when he had to do Marvin’s jobs, because it is hard to hit a jump shot with no legs…after guarding a 260lbs Monster of man.

If his only job was to guard players like LBJ, so Josh could rome the paint rebounding and shot blocking, it would be enough, because that makes the Hawks a better defensive team. Marvin does that every night and doesn’t complain.

The Hawks give-up 7.4 less points a game when he plays, probably because it keeps Josh near the paint…So he can rebound and block more shots.

JustAThought

January 19th, 2011
6:11 pm

Yeah yeah yeah! How about finding some self-respect? Don’t worry, it will be May in a few minutes, and will see how “low” you sorry ba$tard$ will be.

Bobby

January 19th, 2011
6:12 pm

Is anybody out there watching? Much less of the stand-around offense thanks to LD, a dramatically improved road record, road wins over some of the leagues best teams, a much improved bench over last season, a developing defensive-minded back-up PG — there’s no way we fold in the playoffs like we did last year. Not that we can contend, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.

ant banks

January 19th, 2011
6:15 pm

RR,

carmelo did not list atlanta as a place that he WANTED to come, so stop with that effin’ proposal please!!! sheesh!!

O'Brien

January 19th, 2011
6:22 pm

From the previous blog;

“I forgot to mention the excellent coaching job that was done by LDrew, especially a move he made in the 4th quarter. They were double teaming JJ whenever he touched the ball, and he put JoCrawford in the gm, which forced them to back off. Teams know his potential, and what he’s capable of doing.” Ken Strickland .

Do you really think Miami would not double JJ because Jordan was in the game, and they know his potential? Jordan, the rookie, who has played sporadic all year?

imo, LD put him in to see if he could provide a spark.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 19th, 2011
6:22 pm

I don’t have Insider so I can’t see the whole article, but Tom Haberstroh on ESPN.com has an article up about Al Horford being the most underrated player in the NBA.

C. Jay

January 19th, 2011
6:24 pm

Did J. Smoove just say they are trying to figure out a way to play together??????/ How long has the core been together????? 3 or 4 years!!!!! Is he kidding me?????

drmaryb (*_*)

January 19th, 2011
6:30 pm

Rufus1!

Great post and some awesome points. They don’t get that we are not making any blockbuster trades next month. This is our team people. hopefully, we will tweak the roster and add some help at either PG or Center. Nothing is going to happen at SF, I don’t think. IMHO.

ant banks

You’re so right! besides, we don’t need Melo. Everybody but Sund, knows what we need: PG & C.
If we do that, we can contend for a title with this team. Question is, how much do we have to give up to do that? I really don’t want to gut the team like a cat-fish and regress in the process, and I would like to hang on to Jamal if we can. But, if we need to trade him to get Nash or Billups I would.

We need to win now! Not next year!

Section 303

January 19th, 2011
6:35 pm

Michael, I agree. The Hawks cannot complain about any lack of respect. It will take more than a January 19th win to forget them quitting against the Magic (and, they did quit).

I loved the win last night and hated how ESPN just focused on the Heat. I understand it, though. If the Hawks want respect, they need to go get it. The memories of the Magic series are not going away anytime soon. Not for me, at least.

ant banks

January 19th, 2011
6:39 pm

DR. MARY B,

we are in a catch-22 wit’ jamal. DO WE TRADE HIM and get somethin’ of value NOW? or “wait and see” until the end of the season to see what the new CBA will be, but we may lose him and get nothin’ in the process.

i like what he is doin’ for us now. i was concern earlier in the season that he was silently protestin’ his contract situation wit’ the “hurt back thingy” he was fine last year and the year before that. i think he has gotten over

ag

January 19th, 2011
6:51 pm

The headline on ESPN.com said Miami plays with injured Bosh, lose to Hawks in OT. Then it goes on to say about all the points Wade and LaBron made. Watching the game. when Josh was checking Bron, he shut him down. James did not go off until Joe started checking him. Also, Teague needs burn!!!!!!

KevinM

January 19th, 2011
6:53 pm

OB, good one

Double team Joe and put JC2 in the game huh? A guy who now has 12 games under his belt and 116 min of PT this year?

Now that’s funny!

Wow, if you can write it, I guess its believeable.

Well, guess JC2 is offically part of the core now! He is our double team equalizer!

Ra'mon

January 19th, 2011
6:58 pm

Now that NJN have backed out of talks with Denver for Melo. what should the Hawks offer NJN or Denver to get the services of Harris or Billups?

KevinM

January 19th, 2011
7:00 pm

FYI, for those who had shown interest in Rafer Alston, he is officially spoken for:

Alston to China

Sund has to scratch that one off his non-list I guess.

Going forward, the rest of the month.

vs New Orleans 7:30pm SPSO
Sat 22 @ Charlotte 7:00pm SPSO
Wed 26 @ Milwaukee 8:00pm SPSO
Fri 28 vs New York 7:30pm SPSO
Sat 29 @ Dallas

I see 2 to 3 wins in this list…..currently in 4th, one game ahead of Orlando….their schedule for the rest of the month: 2 back to backs
tonight – vs Philadelphia 7:00pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Fri 21 vs Toronto 7:00pm FS Florida WDBO/WRLZ AM
Sat 22 @ Houston 8:30pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Mon 24 vs Detroit 7:00pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Wed 26 @ Indiana 7:00pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Fri 28 @ Chicago 8:00pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Sun 30 vs Cleveland 6:00pm Sun Sports WDBO/WRLZ AM
Mon 31 @ Memphis

ant banks

January 19th, 2011
7:04 pm

could JAVARRIS CRITTENDON help us? is he healthy or on any team?

O'Brien

January 19th, 2011
7:09 pm

Najeh,

Somebody posted it on the other blog;

Most underrated big man: Al Horford

——————————————————————————–
By Tom Haberstroh
ESPN Insider

Al Horford’s superior handle and solid jumper make him a nightmare to guard.

According to the latest All-Star ballot update, Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford received less than 200,000 votes, which ranks fifth among centers in the Eastern Conference and 12th if you include the Western Conference lot at the position. Even Dallas backup center Brendan Haywood, he of 4.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, has garnered more love from fans.

That’s a shame because, outside of Dwight Howard, there may not be a more complete center in today’s game than Horford. Speaking before Tuesday’s game against Miami, Horford said he knows he won’t surpass Howard in the fan vote, but the former Florida Gators’ forward hopes the coaches give him the nod to play in Los Angeles in February.

“It’d mean a lot,” Horford said. “I’ve put in the work and put myself in the position, I feel, to be able to make the All-Star team. That would be special. All I can do is keep playing.”

In his fourth season in the league, the 24-year-old Horford is currently averaging 16.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, while shooting 57 percent from the field. Put it all together and we find that his 22.6 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) ranks second among qualified centers, not to mention outpaces every Hawks player by a wide margin.

So if you’re searching for explanations as to why Atlanta, at 28-15, is still chasing a top-four seed in the East, you might want to start with the unheralded big man. The Hawks played nine games in December without go-to scorer Joe Johnson, but they stayed afloat with a 5-4 record, thanks to Horford taking on a bigger role on offense and averaging a double-double in Johnson’s absence.

While Horford has seen more touches this season under new head coach Larry Drew, it’s puzzling why he doesn’t get even more. Horford’s usage rate — the estimated percentage of team possessions used by a particular player while on the floor — has climbed from 17.6 percent in 2009-10 to 20.4 percent this season, which is a welcomed boost but still not commensurate with his scoring talents. He’s still very much a fourth option on offense, and there’s good reason why he demands a higher spot in the pecking order.

Seventy players in the league — big and small — have made at least 70 isolation plays this season. Take a guess how many of those players have a higher efficiency than Horford’s 1.1 points per isolation play. Three — Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Martin and Chauncey Billups. That’s it.

Normally when a player shoulders more scoring responsibility, we tend to see his shooting numbers dive in the opposite direction. But not Horford. In fact, the big man’s efficiency has improved with more touches this season, as his field goal percentage has risen from 55.1 percent to 56.6 percent. Not only that, he’s cut down on his turnovers, too.

If you watch Horford play, you can see why he’s able to maintain his lofty efficiency. What sets Horford apart from other league big men is his rare ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense away from the block. That diversifies his attack and keeps the defense guessing. Skill-wise, Horford has no problems starting out on the perimeter from the triple-threat position and crossing up his defender off the dribble en route to the basket. According to Synergy data, 70 players in the league — big and small — have made at least 70 isolation plays this season. Take a guess how many of those players have a higher efficiency than Horford’s 1.1 points per isolation play. Three — Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Martin and Chauncey Billups. That’s it.

Horford is an absolute nightmare for opposing big men to defend out on the perimeter because he can blow by if them if they play too close. But play too far off and he’ll happily drill a jumper. So far this season, Horford has nailed 58 percent of his long-2-point attempts (from 16-23 feet) this season, which is hands-down the best conversion rate in the league, according to Hoopdata.com. Nowitzki? 53 percent. Kevin Garnett? 48 percent. Kevin Durant? 41 percent. Horford has them all beat.

“I just worked a lot in the offseason,” Horford said about his jumper. “A lot of people are not necessarily acknowledging that part of my game, so they’re letting me shoot the ball. I’ve been working on that and I feel more confident.”

But despite his scoring talents, Horford doesn’t just create for himself; the big man can pass, too. Double team him in the post and he’ll dish out to Mike Bibby or Johnson spotting up on the perimeter. After dropping eight dimes against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, Horford followed up with another six assists against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. How many turnovers in those two games? Just two.

Horford believes a late growth spurt has something to do with his ability to make those types of plays. He grew up playing the 2 and 3, which enabled him to build ballhandling skills long before he became a big man. He also credits his collegiate experience at Florida, where he won two straight national championships alongside fellow NBA players Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer.

“[Florida] coach [Billy]Donovan gave us a lot of freedom once we got the rebound on the defensive end to bring the ball down, and our shooters would spot up for 3s,” Horford said. “I came here, and in my rookie year [former Hawks] coach [Mike] Woodson would let me play, and this has been a carry over for me.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect about Horford’s game is that he’s displaying All-Star-caliber basketball, despite playing the majority of the time out of position.

“I still consider myself a forward,” Horford said. “I just have to play the center here. We have Josh [Smith], and he does a good job playing the 4. And I don’t mind playing the 5.”

The 24-year-old stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall and plays predominantly against the league’s biggest players. But despite the size disadvantage, Horford has managed to be a top-10 rebounder for the second straight season.

All things considered, there’s not much Horford can’t do out on the court. The disparity between his actual value and fan voting places him among the most underrated players in the NBA. If the coaches select him to the All-Star game as a reserve, he may not go under the radar much longer..

Ra'mon

January 19th, 2011
7:11 pm

Is Billy Donovan the king of big men? Who produces more big men than him now? He’s the new John Thompson

ag

January 19th, 2011
7:16 pm

It was not a bad pick, this Marvin Williams or his brother…THIS WAS A HORRIBLE PICK… A TEAM THAT NEEDS A POINT GUARD WITH two small forwards (Josh was playing the 3 and Chills) and they pick him???? What did he do in college…didnt even start in college!!!!!!

ag

January 19th, 2011
7:19 pm

They were calling some crazy fouls on the Hawks especially when LeBron went to the hole. Bibby got called on two fouls…but I did not understand why he jumped instead of taking a charge.