Archive for April, 2011

Atlanta Hawks: Would they be hopeless without Hinrich? (Update: Hinrich doubtful for series)

7:30 p.m. UPDATE: Hawks say Kirk Hinrich is doubtful to play in series vs. Bulls because of “significant strain” to hamstring.

Kirk Hinrich had an MRI this afternoon. The Hawks haven’t released the results yet but say they expect to announce something today. I’m told it didn’t look good for Hinrich last night but there was more optimism today because he was moving better.

If Hinrich can’t play or is very limited, the Hawks are in serious trouble against the Bulls. I’m assuming they can’t suddenly change their offensive habits to the point where they can score efficiently against the league’s best D. They need Hinrich for scoring, too, because if you are going to be a jump-shooting team it’s best to send out as many jump shooters as possible, especially one capable of getting his own.

So it seems Atlanta’s best chance in this series is to play rugged defense and pull out some grinding games. They did that against the Magic but the Dwight Defense is null against Chicago, which …

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Atlanta Hawks: Video: Wrapping up Hawks-Magic

I joined Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel after Game 6 to talk Hawks-Magic.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 84, Magic 81

  • The Hawks will never beat the Bulls playing like this!
  • Chicago’s elite defense will bottle up all those jump shooters! If Jameer gets open layups on critical possessions what is D-Rose going to do to the Hawks?! The Hawks gained confidence from the Dwight Defense in this series but they don’t have such tricks for the Bulls!
  • And don’t get me started on J.J.’s insistence on dribbling out possessions and taking bad shots in the face of defensive pressure! Chicago’s offense isn’t special but even if the Hawks manage to get a lead they will shoot themselves out of it! Josh might be able to bother Boozer but does anybody deliver more momentum-sapping bad shots and turnovers?
  • And I haven’t even mentioned how Chicago is going to . . . “We will worry about Chicago tomorrow,” Marvin said.
  • (UPDATE: Yes, blog people, I was trying to be facetious there.)
  • The Hawks won ugly, but they did win. They may not have had to show so much resolve if they’d figure out how to play with leads, …

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Magic at Atlanta Hawks Game 6: Larry Drew’s move in ‘chess match’

Hawks players have said more than once that a playoff series is like a “chess match.”

Your move, L.D.

The Hawks have had success defending Orlando’s pick-and-rolls by frequently using a funky scheme, as detailed by Brett Koremenos at hoopspeak.com. (H/T Hoopinion) The alignment didn’t work so well in Game 5, though.

It’s a strategy that has been effective in large part because Hinrich, J.J., Smoove and (sometimes) Jamal all can cover enough ground to make the switch and run out to corner shooters. Those guys also are tall enough that they can bother the shooter even if they don’t make it all the way out. It also helps that the corner defenders who pinch in to help against the ball handler are big guys.

Watching the Magic’s Game 5 pick-and-rolls on Synergy Sports Technology, I noticed that Redick and Jameer changed up. Instead of going all the way to the rim and either looking for the corner 3 (which the Hawks have covered well) or try to get to the basket (where help awaits), …

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Atlanta Hawks: The doubters are back

The Hawks are a hard team for their own fans to trust even when they are going good. So it’s not surprising that the first sign of the Hawks going bad again brings out the skeptics among NBA watchers.

The Hawks had a sample of that doubt placed in their lockers today: Printouts of this column from the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi. The more inflammatory passages were underlined for effect.

First, understand that caustic columns are part of Bianchi’s schtick. He’s a funny dude whose goal is to write provocative columns that generate buzz. And he’s not above making a full flip-flop in advancement of that goal.

For instance, before the playoffs started, Bianchi wrote the Magic should “Beware of the Hawks.” After Atlanta won Game 1, he wrote: “This was not a fluke, ladies and gentlemen. This is a trend. The Hawks have now beat the Magic four of five times this season. And let me tell you something: The Magic are in trouble. Big trouble. . . . In fact, a case could be made that …

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Atlanta Hawks: Magic 101, Hawks 76

Orlando–During a radio interview yesterday, the host tried to get me to predict how this series would turn out.

  • “I’m done trying to predict the Hawks,” I said. “They can make you look stupid. When I’ve praised them, they go and get blown out. When I criticize them, they do something like go up 3-1 on the Magic. But one thing I think I can say for sure after these four games is you know they are going to give a good effort tomorrow.”
  • Man, I’m about as smart as Charlie Brown when he’s always trying to kick that damn football when he knows Lucy’s going to pull it away again.
  • They came out and hit us early; it just seemed like we didn’t have a response for it,” Hinrich said. “We are going to regroup. We still have the series lead going home. We’re confident we will play better in Game 6.”
  • It’s hard to trust the Hawks. They said all of the right things after this, just like they said the right things before. Obviously they are back in the “show me” category after this …

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Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 5: ‘Growth’ business

Orlando–”Growth” has been the buzzword for the Hawks over the last two days.

Marvin: “We have an opportunity to show some growth. We’ve had a chance to close series [early] in the past and we haven’t done that.”

Al: “This is the first time we’ve been in this kind of position where we are up 3-1. We are a different team but they are coming out and giving us all they have. We have to make sure we come out ready and expect it and it will show some growth if we are able to come out on top.”

L.D.: “With this team I am always talking about this team growing. To me them positioning themselves to go into Orlando and finish this thing off, that’s a huge step in our growth process.”

I know what you are thinking. The Hawks have bigger goals than winning a first-round playoff series. That’s true but I’m also inclined to agree that a W tonight would mean be significant in a few ways.

Already the Hawks are the second team in franchise history to lead a seven-game series 3-1 (the ‘69-70 …

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Atlanta Hawks: They sure do take bad shots sometimes

From what I’m hearing, the TNT talkers spent a lot of time last night ragging on the Hawks for their poor shot selection. This just in. . . .

I can imagine the collective shrugs of my blog people who know this team and have become accustomed to (if not totally accepting of) its weaknesses. I also figure you are annoyed by the national nit-picking of those warts by people just now paying attention to the Hawks and who hadn’t bothered to take a moment to look at numbers which clearly show they love jump shots (and are pretty good at making them).

I assure you it’s nothing personal. The same thing happened at this time last year. People who hadn’t watched the Hawks all year and/or analyze their tendencies were appalled to discover that Joe spent a lot of time dribbling on one side of the floor as his teammates watched or that Josh gets frustrated by calls and loses focus.

I remember my response to puzzled Orlando media types querying me about those topics: “Um, yeah. That’s the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Video: Hawks-Magic post-game report

I joined Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel to talk about Atlanta’s 88-85 victory over the Magic in Game 4.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 88, Magic 85

  • The key for the Hawks in Game 5 is obvious: Score 88 points.
  • The Hawks survived to win Game 4 after they made lots of their familiar mistakes–poor shot selection, stagnant possessions, blown defensive assignments, turnovers. “We made some plays that weren’t very characteristic of us and took some ill-advised shots,” L.D. said, pointing out one thing that is very characteristic of this team.
  • The Hawks offset all of the bad with key rebounds, another efficient game from Jamal and some clutch free throws by J.J..
  • The Hawks have taken a beating for their lack of toughness and character in the past and so now they deserve some credit for winning ugly in this series. From the time Arenas made that 3 to tie it early in the fourth until the final buzzer, the Hawks answered every challenge.
  • “In the huddle, the first thing I did was look at all the guys’ faces and I didn’t see a sense of panic, which was a great sign for me,” Drew said. “In the past this team has been in those type …

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