Atlanta Hawks at Pistons: Getting started (Update: ‘Big’ lineup tonight)

Auburn Hills, Mich.–The cabby showed up this morning and couldn’t start his car because of a battery issue. He didn’t listen when I told him it’s not a good idea to pop-start an automatic transmission. Hated to leave him like that but I had a flight to catch.

So that’s how my 15-night Hawks road trip/All-Star weekend trek started. I will spare you an attempt at some lame metaphor about how the cabby’s car is like the Hawks, who are looking to get out of their “rut” on this trip.

Me? I’m just trying to perfect the art of hitting the 50-pound limit on my luggage.

Anyway, before the Hawks headed up to Michigan, they talked about the collapse against the Bobcats, which followed the beatdown to the Sixers. Mo usually sounds the alarm about those kind of things but he’s taking the long view:

“I don’t think we need to panic. We had a bad game against Philadelphia when Al was out. They had a great night. [NOTE: Sorry, but this is the part where I've got to point this out again.] [The Sixers] went home and beat the Spurs. [Saturday] night we were up 20 and again our defense and offense failed us at times. A guy who has 30, he’s already feeling great, we let him get comfortable and he hit a tough shot to win the game. I don’t think that’s anything to panic about. We could have easily won that game, and had we won that I don’t think anyone would have been raising their hands and saying that everything is cured. Again, it is a long season. These last 30 games will be telling.”

L.D. also addressed the L to the Bobcats but, really, he could have been talking about any of a number of his team’s losses. Not sure exactly how many times I’ve heard some variation of the following this season:

“We had individual defensive breakdowns. Individually, we stopped defending. We didn’t do a good job on the ball. Our transition defense, we had some bad possessions with that. And then offensively we had some bad possessions with our shot selection. The combination of those three things, when you watch the tape you can clearly see the reasons that we lost the game. it was so black and white it was unbelievable.”

And my follow-up question was, I’m sure, the same one I’ve asked several times this season: Since those things have been issues pretty much all season, what can L.D. at this point to solve them?

“You have got to stay on them. I have got to keep pointing it out. I have got to keep challenging each individual player. We can’t get into a situation where we are going out and trying to outscore people. Everybody in this league can score. You have got to have some kind of defensive presence. If you don’t, you can go up 20 but teams can get back in it just like that. It’s something I’ve been harping on from Day 1, and I will keep harping on it. And I have got to keep challenging guys individually. We have got some guys that are not taking the defensive challenge and I am going to challenge those guys. I know some of these guys can score, I know that. But they have go to get it done at the other end.”

And so that naturally (and repetitively, I’m sure) led to questions about his lineup. L.D. said he doesn’t want to make a change before the All-Star break, so that (probably) means the Hawks use the “regular” lineup tonight against the Pistons and Wednesday at New York (Drew says Al is good to go).

(UPDATE: L.D. is using the “big” lineup tonight, so we get to see what it looks like against a team that doesn’t pound the ball to the post. “With both Wallace and Monroe I just felt it might be best for us to go big against those guys. They are a physical team and they really do a good job rebounding, so we have got to make sure we have enough beef in there to combat that.”)

Drew did say that he still likes the big lineup though he’s still hesitant to use it all the time:

“You are big at four and three. That gives us an advantage. It may open up a can of worms at the other end. Josh Smith is not really used to chasing threes off of screens, that kind of thing. He has the athleticism to do it. I like the pros of it more than I [dislike] the cons. It has been good to us so far. Thinking about doing it all the time it just puts [Twin] out there against anybody that would play. For example, if I decide to do it against New York, it will be a matchup problem with Gallinari and Amar’e. I’m not going to be pigeonholed into doing same way every time. Not right now. It may be something that we have to tweak.”

And so begins the journey, blog people. Just like the cabby needed jumper cables to get going, the Hawks . . . aw, hell, forget it.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

362 comments Add your comment

Rufus1

February 14th, 2011
1:07 pm

Hope…

IMO hope is the main reason the attendance is down from last year. No one thinks we have any chance to Making to the finals with Bibby as our starter. Management and the coaching staff have the responsibility to give their fans HOPE…

That is why the NFL is so successful, most teams start the year thinking they have a chance.

With Bibby as our starter, even the “Die Hard” fans don’t believe we will make it out of the 1st round, so why would a casual fan spend money on a HOPELESS product.

Analogy…

If I intended to take a trip from ATL to CALI, but had to choose between a flat tire(Bibby) or the “donut”(Teague or JC2). I would choose the “donut”. Even thought I may still end my trip on the side of the road.
…ATLEAST THE “DONUT” GIVES ME HOPE THAT I COULD MAKE IT!!!!!

With Bibby as the starter, I feel like a GT basketball fan with Hewitt as the head coach…HOPELESS IN THE “A”

drmaryb (*_*)

February 14th, 2011
1:09 pm

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time!

First?

Sautee

February 14th, 2011
1:14 pm

First, let me say that The Hawks bench is so bad that this (33-20) is likely the most we should expect from them. Zaza and Mo in particular have dropped in production (how can you drop from nearly nothing?) and Powell has been a disappointment.

Second, LD has to break up to six years of bad habits. Not an easy thing to do in a half season.

Third, I WISH that he would be sterner in his accountability.

Lionhearted

February 14th, 2011
1:16 pm

Man LD stinks

just SHOOT me

February 14th, 2011
1:18 pm

I don’t think the Hawks or Hawks Fans should panic, but there’s definitely cause for concern. I wish we could shake things up a little before the trade deadline. Bring in some new blood. The way things look (and any of you who’ve followed my comments before the start of the season) the Hawks will finish 5th in the East and get beat in the first round. The top 4 spots in the East are all maintained by the exact teams I thought would be there come the All-Star break. The only saving grace a Hawks fan can have is that we don’t end up playing the Magic in the first round. Granted, the Magic aren’t the same as in years past…But the Hawks will surely find a way to get blown out led by Joe Johnson’s lack luster effort.

Good job, Spirit.

Astro Joe

February 14th, 2011
1:25 pm

Sautee, entering the season, would you have said that this was the best bench the Hawks have had during this current 4-year playoff run?

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:27 pm

“I don’t think we need to panic”

News Flash” Ah LD your team has had 6 straight 4th quarter melt downs and are 2-4 in that stretch. You better start to panic or you’ll be outta here this summer…..Your team should be playing like its a one game elimination gearing up mentally for the playoffs.. Next 11 games will test your squad good.The picture will become much clearer on how things will stand when it counts for real…

mykhalc

February 14th, 2011
1:30 pm

well it’s becomin’ clearer by the interview…LD is bi-polar…

Sautee

February 14th, 2011
1:30 pm

To underscore my earlier point about the bench…..

the last time we played at the Palace our bench was outscored 46-14 in a blowout loss. Ouch.

Also, I’ve only hear the words “Good Job, Spirit” applied to Spirit the Hawk who is now banned from Philips.

The Atlanta Spirit Killers Group has only done a good job of just barely appeasing the fanbase enough to quell a general uprising. They actually conned thousands of ticket holders into thinking they want a championship.

If you think THAT’s a good job, ok.

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:31 pm

“Man LD stinks”

Gearon stinks more……………………..

Najeh Davenpoop

February 14th, 2011
1:32 pm

If LD is going to make a meaningful lineup change, now is the time. Going up against Portland and LA trying to work a new guy into the starting lineup is asking for trouble. He should make the change now, against Detroit, and work out the kinks in the next two games.

WLOC

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

What??? Detroit blew out the HAWKS??? another sub.500 team ripped the Hawks to shreds??? Sound the Alarms LD!!!!!!DING DING DING DONG…………LOL

Najeh Davenpoop

February 14th, 2011
1:34 pm

“The Atlanta Spirit Killers Group has only done a good job of just barely appeasing the fanbase enough to quell a general uprising. ”

Hey, if the Egyptians can stage an uprising and overthrow Mubarak, maybe Hawks fans can stage an uprising and overthrow the DASG. Anything is possible.

WLOC

Najeh Davenpoop

February 14th, 2011
1:35 pm

“IMO hope is the main reason the attendance is down from last year. No one thinks we have any chance to Making to the finals with Bibby as our starter. Management and the coaching staff have the responsibility to give their fans HOPE… ”

Not just hope for making it to the finals; the Hawks no longer give the fans hope of improvement over last season. When they first made the playoffs in ‘08, nobody knew how far they could go. Now everyone knows, and it’s not far enough.

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:36 pm

@Rufus1

Ah the Hawks have never been to an NBA final in almost 5 decades….Why start now?……I get it Mr. Stern…

Sautee

February 14th, 2011
1:40 pm

AJ,

Good question. I thought that Teague would be closer than he obviously is not. I though Powell would give better energy than Joe Smith, which he did at first, but then started chucking jumpers. I had high hopes that JC2 would be more ready. I thought I knew what to (not) expect from Zaza and Mo but I didn’t expect regression.

But overall, I thought your “summer of sameness” meme was right on target. I just liked the hire much more than you. It didn’t bother me a whit that Drew was from Woody’s staff, as I knew that he was one of the assistants that Woody had failed to listen to.

My highest hopes in the off season were akin to O’Brien’s. Trade JC1 for a starting PG. I’d still love to see that happen, even if it weakened the bench. And actually if Bibby were coming off the bench, it would help the second team in their sets.

Assuming they would RUN the sets, that is.

northcyde

February 14th, 2011
1:46 pm

(( raising hand @ Astro Joe ))

Ummm . . . No.

My main complaint last summer was that Sund needed to bring in people who could actually replace some on the bench. Our 7th and 8th men are Mo and Zaza.

I can’t think of a single playoff level team in which Mo and Zaza would be the 7th and 8th man on their team. Even on a squad like Philly, they wouldn’t be that.

With me being in Tennessee, and Fox Sports Net deciding to show all Hawk and Grizzly games on SportsSouth, a lot more Hawk games are pre-empted in my area, in favor to show the Grizzlies.

Memphis had the sense to secure Tony Allen as a backup PG/SG. He’s really improved that squad on the defensive end, which has enabled them to really make a move toward securing a playoff spot.

At 3 mill per year, and a guy who REALLY contributed to a championship caliber squad in Boston, he has been a great addition for Memphis. It’s to bad that Sund doesn’t have an eye for talent like that. If we had Tony, I could easily see him being an option for us at the PG ( defensively ) at the end of games.

Grandad

February 14th, 2011
1:48 pm

You don’t get their attn by harping / (talking).
“put their hind on the pine”
CM Newton, Vanderbilt, circa 1979

By the way, exactly who [?] are the guys
to which he has to keep harping?

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:50 pm

“It’s to bad that Sund doesn’t have an eye for talent like that”

Sund and Gearon are business men not “basketball” men..That’s why they will never “get it right” when it comes to evaluating talent…..

Worldwide Clyde

February 14th, 2011
1:52 pm

Excuses Excuses

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
1:54 pm

Heck Sund even admits he does not watch college games or even have a computer on his office desk top..What a bad Joke! This guys been a GM for 31+ years!!! Are you kidding me????

terrell

February 14th, 2011
1:54 pm

Gotta make a change LD. Bibby/Jamal backcourt is killin us.

Big lineup: JJ/Marvin/Josh/Al/Collins
Small lineup: Teague/Jamal/JJ/Josh/Al

terrell

February 14th, 2011
1:57 pm

“How can you drop from nearly nothing? Good question.

terrell

February 14th, 2011
2:00 pm

Slimjr, LD aint going nowhere. He’s under contract for another year. Think the ASG will pay 2 coaches in a possible lockout year?

northcyde

February 14th, 2011
2:01 pm

The main reason attendance is down, is that fans only come out for the big games. 40% of our “fan base” don’t come out to see the Hawks, they come out to see the Hawks play good to great teams.

Our schedule in March is full of games vs the top level teams. That in itself will increase our attendance. But it won’t be until the 4th quarter when you’ll actually believe that the crowd is a pro-Hawk crowd.

It every excuse in the world, other than the fans simply not EVER caring about the Hawks, that people come up with. If us “die hards” give up and not go to games, you know the casual fan definitely won’t go to the games.

The difference is that the casual fan may very well go to the big games, while the disgruntled die hards may still not go, thinking we’ll lose anyway.

That’s why the ASG in the future should factor in what type of players that people will come out to see, regardless if he helps the team in the won – loss column or not.

Maybe we need a team full of Jamals, so they can do “tricky dribbles” for the crowd for 4 quarters. Trade JJ for JR Smith, since he’s the type of player that gets people excited in ATL.

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
2:02 pm

@Lewis

Thanks for correcting me.my bad….LOL

Astro Joe

February 14th, 2011
2:02 pm

northcyde, the question wasn’t “did you think the bench was good” the question was “is it the best bench during the playoff run”? Comepletly different questions.

Sautee, do you ever wonder if Lester Connor (defensive coordinator) or Nick Van Exel (position coach for young guards) feel like they are being heard when Bibby & Jamal continue to get the bulk of the minutes? Has LD’s schemes been so undeniably effective that you scratch your head wondering why his previous boss failed to heed his advice? When he suggests that the players are too comfortable, would you categorize him as an agitator or a Snuggly?

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
2:05 pm

Aren’t the Hawks paying like 7 coaches already(assistant coaches) I see a bunch suited guys on the bench and behind the bench..Shoot give em a uniform to help bolster the vaulted bench…Heck they can’t be any worse? LOL

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
2:08 pm

“Our schedule in March is full of games vs the top level teams”

Ah, the ides of March approaching faster…………………………..and faster………….

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
2:09 pm

oops @ terrell

Thanks for correction….

Grandad

February 14th, 2011
2:09 pm

Najeh

We’re licking our creamsicles

terrell

February 14th, 2011
2:13 pm

Slimjr, I guarantee you Van Exel could give us more at the pg position than Bibby does. lol!

Guesswhosthis

February 14th, 2011
2:13 pm

This team needs a trade badly. They have too many players that don’t compete at a professional level. This team only thinks about offense and when their shot is off, they get blown out. A guy I would really love to have at point guard is George Hill from San Antonio. That guy doesn’t back down from nobody and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Also, I believe it’s time for the Hawks to part ways with Josh Smith. That guy is too talented and let’s that get to his head. He only plays hard against the good teams or against star players but doesn’t give the same effort against lesser opponents. We need to let him go and just stick with Al Horford. Mike Bibby also needs to go because he’s just too unproductive for the amount of minutes he’s on the floor. He gives up way too much than he actually contributes to the team. If you keep him, he needs to come off the bench for spot minutes and just hit a few 3s while he’s in. Jamaal Crawford is also hurting this team because of his lack of defense. Sure I’ve seen this guy win games for us with his scoring but how much games do we win because of that. Now compare that with how many games we lose because guards are penetrating and making our defense look like a bunch of guys running all over the place trying to cover open guys. Scoring is all about talent. But defense is all about heart and effort and that’s what we need. We’ve seen this talented team get clobbered way too often. It’s time this team learns how to fight every game. Bring in George Hill and couple other hard nosed players and give up Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, and Mike Bibby and you will have a tough team. And trust me, you can get a lot of value for those three guys so make it happen now.

terrell

February 14th, 2011
2:15 pm

Any guesses to how many points we score in the 4th qtr tonight? I say 16.

terrell

February 14th, 2011
2:19 pm

Guesswhothisis, didnt you just say Josh, Jamal, and Bibby dont like to play defense? And you think Pops wants em? Please!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by 須藤香織, Michael Cunningham. Michael Cunningham said: Atlanta #Hawks at Pistons: Getting started http://bit.ly/hcmlC3 [...]

lewis

February 14th, 2011
2:30 pm

Bibby was playing adequately for the first half of the season.
Then his legs got tired.
Still playing way too many minutes.
No backup PG.
He’s awful currently.

northcyde

February 14th, 2011
2:31 pm

@ Astro . . The answer is still No.

I thought the bench in the 08 – 09 season was better. It’s just too bad that both Marvin and Horford were injured during that time.

We got much more out of Zaza back then, than we do now. Same goes with Mo. We didn’t even miss Marvin down the stretch of that year, because of Mo playing solid basketball in his place.

And to me, Flip ( overall ) is the equivalent of Jamal. Jamal is much more explosive offensively. Flip was a lot better defensively.

And although he was a fouling machine, I’d take Solomon Jones, and his ability to block shots, over any reserve big we have on the roster.

Yeah . . give me the 08 – 09 bench over this squad, any day of the week.

JeJe

February 14th, 2011
2:34 pm

LD IS A JOKE. HE SAYS THE SAME THINGS AFTER EVERY GAMES.

NO ADJUSTMENTS

I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM BENCH A PLAYER LIKE SILAS DID TO AUGUSTIN IN THE 2ND HALF THE OTHER NIGHT

HE USES THE SAME POINT GUARD EVEN THOUGH BIBBY IS F’ING GARBAGE. BIBBY’S ONLINE CONTRIBUTION TO THE TEAM IS CONTESTED 3S. I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM CROSS UP A POINT GUARD WHILE IN A HAWKS UNIFORM. HE IS ABOUT AS FAST AS JASON COLLINS IS WITH A 200 POUND BACKPACK ON HIS BACK

FIRE SUND
FIRE LD

LD TALKS ABOUT US BEING IN A COMFORT ZONE. WELL MAYBE IF WE DIDNT HAVE THE SAME CORE FOR THE LAST 3 DECADES WE WOULD BE PLAYING WITH MORE SPIRIT

LOL @ MICHAEL GEARON JR CLAIMING WE SUCK AT HOME SOMETIMES BECAUSE FANS DON’T SHOW UP

NO, IT’S BECAUSE OUR CORE SUCKS AND WE NEED A DAMN TRADE

FIRE SUND

JeJe

February 14th, 2011
2:35 pm

PEOPLE ACT LIKE WOODY RETAINED BECAUSE OF THE MAGIC SERIES.

YEAH, WE DIDN’T GET SWEPT BY CLEVELAND IN 2009

IDIOTS

JeJe

February 14th, 2011
2:36 pm

*LIKE WOODY WASN’T RETAINED

newkid

February 14th, 2011
2:36 pm

L.D. said he doesn’t want to make a change before the All-Star break…

“I’m not going to be pigeonholed into doing same way every time. Not right now.

MC, what’s so sacrosanct about the All-Star break? What’s this ‘not right now’ nonsense? Is this LD/Sund gibberish for ‘I’d prefer to wait until after consummated trade(s) to tinker with the first five for the stretch run’?

steve brown

February 14th, 2011
2:40 pm

Why does Mo even talk? Why do you quote him? Maybe if I heard him admit what a bust/bum he has been he would have an iota of credence. Useless.

oldtimer

February 14th, 2011
2:47 pm

JeJe, the series vs. Cavs, two years ago, Hawks were injured. If i remember (getting old and forgetful) Al was hurt, Joe was hurt, and Marvin back was hurting (you are right from previous blog). Not saying Hawks would beat Cavs, but it would be tougher series. If you remember Hawks played Cavs pretty tough last year when Hawks were healthy and cavs had added more players. So if Woody is let go because of failures in playoffs, let’s remember the circumstances for both series. IMO, Woody got the max out of this team which we all know have shortcomings.

Astro Joe

February 14th, 2011
2:52 pm

newkid, 4 games before the deadline… Pistons, Knicks, Lakers & Suns. I’m not sure that reshuffling the current cards will likely alter the end results against those teams.

northcyde, you are a better predictor than me because I thought going into the season that this would be a better bench than any other in recent history (for the Hawks). I guess I failed to consider that we could sign an equally as ineffective PF as Joe Smith, but we did.

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
2:53 pm

“Any guesses to how many points we score in the 4th qtr tonight? I say 16″

“Iam gonna go out on a line,ah I meant a limb” quote from Nique the other night who tried to predict a win against the Cats..Gotta love Nique!! LOL.

Nasal drives me crazy with his OPINIONS!! I gotta mute that guy tonight….Whew…

I predict at least 20 points scored tonight in the 4th. I think JC1 is going to get back on track tonight. I just hope he does not shoot his whole load in the third.. Save it for the 4th………

Rufus1

February 14th, 2011
2:59 pm

Northcyde

I agree attendance will go up when the big name teams come, but IIIIII am loosing HOPE and I am a glass 1/2 full kind of person. I am loosing the excitement about playing the big name teams, because I am getting a weird sense of “Deja VU”

LD is turning into a slightly newer version of Woodson. Yes, the offense is better. Yes, the overall defense is better, but the formula to beat the Hawks remains the same.(Attack bibby and Jamal in the 4th QT… Double Joe and leave Josh open for jumpshots)

The only real improvement I think LD has made is the Ball Movement. I think the improvement in defense, has more to do with the SLOWED pace.

No player development
No accountability
The lack of a defined leadership structure.

Teague
How can one expect a 2nd year player to become the leader on a team, when the coach doesn’t live upto his stated principles or hold everyone similar standards. THIS BEHAVIOR CREATES A LEVEL OF UNCERTAINTY IN HIS YOUNG PLAYERS…(Just like like Woodson did)

I feel we will end in the same place as last year, so why pay to see the same movie twice.

I will still attend games, just not as many until I see change.

Section 303

February 14th, 2011
3:04 pm

I really can’t stand Mo Evans. First, he contributes nothing on the floor. His shot is awful and his D is way overrated. Second, I hate reading his quotes that try to rationalize why everything is OK right now for the Hawks. It isn’t. This team is a disaster at the moment.

The analogy above about there being no hope is dead on, as far as I’m concerned. There is no hope that this group can better what they did last year. In fact, I’m starting to become convinced that these clowns will not make it out of the 1st round.

slimjr

February 14th, 2011
3:05 pm

“Pistons, Knicks, Lakers & Suns”

I wonder what LD will be a saying if his team lays an egg over the next 4 games? All road games!! “We will not panic?”

Section 303

February 14th, 2011
3:06 pm

By the way, why are so many hard on Bibby? You want to get mad at someone? Get mad at Jeff Teague for sucking. The plan was for Bibby to be playing a backup role by now. He can’t because Teague is awful. So, lay off. Pointing your finger at Bibby is just stupid.

Also…guess you could be mad at Sund for drafting Teague here in the first place. But, putting the blame on Bibby is not right. Just not fair.