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 the Hawks are simply better than the Magic and should be favored in this series.”

And, finally, after Atlanta’s W in Game 5, Bianchi wrote: “The Magic are now down in this series 3-1 and it’s all but over. Does anybody out there really, honestly believe the Magic can rally back from 3-1 against a talented and athletic Hawks team?”

Apparently Bianchi now thinks they can.

Jamal was the only Hawks player still around when I noticed the printouts. He was more amused than annoyed. He also apparently already is familiar with Bianchi’s flexible opinions.

“He changes with the wind,” Jamal said.

Jamal also was not impressed with the “Birdbrains” insult: “That’s a good one, huh?”"

Now all of the Hawks have heard it.

“It wasn’t my idea but I heard the article got passed around,” L.D. said. “Certainly we can use bulletin-board material. But at this stage of the game it’s just about us coming ready to do battle. I told the players after last night’s game we are still in a great position.”

It seems there aren’t many outside of Philips who still believe that. When I got home from practice, I flipped on the television to find the PTI guys doubting the Hawks.

Wilbon set it up the segment by noting that Dwight promised that if the Magic won Game 5 they would go on to win the series:

Wilbon: The Hawks appeared to treat this game like one in December. Now that’s it’s 3-2 and Atlanta has reverted to its dog form from last year’s playoffs, do you think Dwight Howard is right about that?

Kornheiser: I really don’t know about that. I am struck by the oddity of Dwight’s Howard’s performances. His team is 18-3 in games where he takes 10 or fewer shots. He took four shots last night. Then he goes and has a Wilt game with 46 and 19 and they don’t win. So I can’t get a handle on what Orlando can do and can’t do with Dwight Howard. I don’t get it.

Wilbon: That is a crazy stat and is hard to explain. But here is what matters with Orlando: They give effort. They might not play well, they do something that infuriates their coach, Stan Van Gundy. But they are paying attention and they give effort. And the Atlanta Hawks, last night, where was the effort? What were they doing? Is it because they get a home game in Game 6?

Kornheiser: Do you have them done? Do you have them losing?

Wilbon: I had Orlando winning the series and now, more than ever, I have them going to Atlanta and winning Game 6 and then taking the series.

For my blog people who also may be losing faith that the Hawks can close out this series, take solace in history–and not just that only eight of 194 NBA teams have come back from down 3-1.

Mike Prada of SB Nation says just because Game 5 was a blowout doesn’t mean the Hawks will lose the series. In fact, recent playoff results suggest they will win Game 6.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

198 comments Add your comment

Slimjr

April 27th, 2011
6:43 pm

1st again?????????????????????

Slimjr

April 27th, 2011
6:43 pm

2nd again???????????????????????

Slimjr

April 27th, 2011
6:43 pm

3rd again????????????????????????????????

Slimjr

April 27th, 2011
6:44 pm

4th again??????????????????????????????????

Slimjr

April 27th, 2011
6:45 pm

Those babes on LATINEURO. will give ELLE DUNCAN a run big time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

joBjo

April 27th, 2011
6:51 pm

tyger

April 27th, 2011
6:52 pm

IT’S THE FAN’S FAULT!!!

They should love to get their hearts broken year after year, it’s their fault. They should love spending good money after bad running behind the Atlanta Quitters. And if they hesitate, then well, you see, they don’t love us, it’s their fault!

joBjo

April 27th, 2011
6:52 pm

i am praying for the Hawks to play hard and smart and close out orl in 6.
really, i am.

O'Brien

April 27th, 2011
6:54 pm

northcyde was right. hawks fans are just as mentally fragile as the team.

Regardless of what happens this series, our GM needs to shake up the team and bring in some players who are mentally tough, and who play physical.

Rod from College Park

April 27th, 2011
6:59 pm

from previous blog repost:

“But we lost because of coaching. LD was great coming up with the Collins strategy. And it has taken the Orlando staff a few games to adjust. But this is the playoffs, and unlike Woody last season, they have adjusted.”

This is the point that everyone needs to understand. We got outcoached last night plain and simple. Van Gundy was able to adjust by playing more pick and roll, instead of passing to Howard, and standing around, and he also made another subtle move that destroyed the Hawks last night. He started trapping Jamal like they do with JJ, and we had no answer for it.

Again, for all the Josh Smith haters, please know that Josh is not my favorite player by any stretch of the imagination, but to critisize him after every game is absurd. Josh Smith is not an ALL STAR. Joe Johnson and Al Horford are ALL STARS. Al is a 2 year All Star, and Joe is a 4 year All Star. Please name one other team, in the playoffs, whose ALL STARS don’t carry the team. I can argue for the Hawks, that Jamal and Josh, have been much more productive in the playoffs than Joe and Al. Is Al Horford a leader, and a smart baskeball player, if he continues to pass up a shot (midrange jumper), that he was one of the best at shooting during the regualar season, and pass to Josh standing behind the three point line? Joe Johnson was terrible in every facet of the game last night.

FYI (2011 playoffs)

Jamal Crawford – 29mpg. 44%FG, 51%3p, 1.8 rpg, 3.2apg, 20.8 ppg
Joe Johnson – 40 mpg, 39%FG, 35%3p , 5.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 17.0 ppg
Josh Smith – 34.8mpg, 46%FG, 23% 3p, 9.0 rpg, 2.4apg, 15.6ppg
Al Horford – 38 mpg, 41%FG, 9.8 rpg, 3.2apg, 1bpg, 12.4ppg

Let me also point out that in this series, Josh has 26 free throw attemps (he has been terrible at the line), while Joe has 22 attempts, while being guarded by JJ Reddick, Jason Richardson, and Turk, and Al has 14 attempts, while being guarded by Brandon Bass, and Ryan Anderson. Which player is exhibiting the highest basketball IQ? If our ALL STARS can not dominate their matchups, we will not win this series period. To really be specific, Al and Joe need to at least put up their season averages in points, and stop depending on Jamal and Josh to carry the team.

It was not a bad pick

April 27th, 2011
7:02 pm

@Rod from College Park

you just want everyone to blame Marvin for every loss..The real problem is the guy with the Max contract…

mykhalc

April 27th, 2011
7:05 pm

smart based on experience and quality of play oberseved ain’t the same as mentally fragile!!! i’d say it’s more of bein’ a smart, informed NBA fan…who happens to be a Hawks fans. some of us have decades of supportin’ and breakdown these teams. NOW THIS particular incarnation of a Hawks team is probably mentally fragile. stay tuned…i’ll KNOW FOR SURE tomorrow nite…

mykhalc

April 27th, 2011
7:06 pm

breakin’ down these teams…

Ethan

April 27th, 2011
7:15 pm

You want bulletin board material for the Hawks LD?…read Facebook and this blog.l You will know how your players are seen out here. We might not be pro players but it doesn’t mean we don’t understand the game. get your “S” together! I dont expect a win every night, but I do expect to compete every night. NOT TO MUCH TO ASK!!!!

Barton

April 27th, 2011
7:16 pm

The doubters never left… we’ve developed the “believe it when we see it” attitude with the Hawks. MC I think you put it best in your notes from the game – You can’t praise the Hawks or they make you look bad and you can’t criticize them because they make you look bad. One constant I have seen though – when the words “I think we’ve finally figured it out” come out of one of the players mouth (Al Horford before the 6 game losing streak to end the season and JC1 before game 5) the Hawks get whooped.

I saw comments in other posts about the hawks fans hating on the hawks for being up 3-2 and losing one game and thus being fair-weathered. There is a difference between being a fan of a team that you know can right the ship after a blowout loss and dismissing it as just 1 loss and then there is being a true hawks fan and knowing this could be catastrophic. I think the Hawks might want to take a look at some of the offensive sets the Mavericks run, which open up the lane for the guards and allows them to attack, dish or kick out (which would help better utilize Teague, our better jumpshooters, and let JJ throw up that floater or become the assist master of his earlier days (I know he’s a more than capable passer). All we would need is Josh Smith to follow the ball to the hoop and he’d be throwing down dunks all day.

LakeDawg

April 27th, 2011
7:20 pm

Last night’s effort by the Hawks just proves that they will never overcome what they are. Even if they manage to win this series, the Hawks are through developing and progressing. What you see is what you get. A team that will never win anything of consequence. Not because they aren’t talented, but because they can’t be bothered to really sacrifice for it. No mental toughness, no courage, no ambition. I exclude Al Horford (and maybe Zaza) and nobody else including Jamal Crawford.

LakeDawg

April 27th, 2011
7:24 pm

Rod from College Park…..all of your points are legitimate, but J Smoove still sucks.

deron

April 27th, 2011
7:26 pm

The Hawks will win the series. The Magic are a one dimensional team. Stan Van and Dwight need to stop whining and play. The should be just worrying about the Hawks. If the Hawks win; they will be the 9th team in the last 30 years to successfully avenge a playoff sweep from the previous season.

http://www.theresastatforthat.blogspot.com

honest_abe

April 27th, 2011
7:31 pm

back? where’d they go? the doubters have been here all year long. i don’t mind being wrong. prove me wrong hawks! go get em!

has joe johnson ever stepped up in a critical game?
can someone give josh some aderol?
al needs a pair of _____ i’ll let you fill in the blank.
ld needs to disappear.

now onto more important issues will tomorrow’s game be on tnt or do i have to listen to bob and nique again. god bless my ears.

This Gets Old

April 27th, 2011
7:32 pm

@Rod from College Park

Yep…

bigdave

April 27th, 2011
7:48 pm

Rod from CP

good post sir.

True Hawks Fan

April 27th, 2011
7:50 pm

Go Hawks! Win game 6! I’m with you as always. ASG and RS are the ones who need to go after the season. Take KH with you while you’re at it. In the meantime go Hawks, win game 6!! I mean all of the Hawks, even Pape Sy.

GT Alum

April 27th, 2011
7:51 pm

O’Brien -

There are a number of fairweather Hawks fans. However, there are those of us who have been fans since the 80s (or before) who lost their faith in this team with the Rider debacle and still aren’t able to put our full faith in this team because they blow too hot in cold. I’ve honestly been waiting all series for a game like last night, because they come all too often with this team, usually just in time to seriously erode any confidence in them they’ve built among their fan base.

However, what’s important now is how they come out tomorrow night. If they lose that game, it’ll be down to 1 game in a rocking Orlando stadium with the Magic on a 2 game winning streak. They better come out playing with a sense of urgency, or their backs will be against the wall.

NCBravesFan

April 27th, 2011
7:53 pm

Honestly, I don’t think it’s time to panic unless the Hawks lose Game 6. We’ll see tomorrow night how that plays out but as MC has pointed out so nicely here, odds are the Hawks will be fine.

DanDickau

April 27th, 2011
8:08 pm

My prediction: Hawks win at Philips by 15+. This is their year.

Section 303

April 27th, 2011
8:20 pm

I’m still disgusted by what I saw last night. And, I still stand firmly in the corner that says you can’t just turn effort on and off. Once it’s off, it’s off.

They have to win tomorrow night. They simply have to. I may have a complete meltdown if tomorrow ends in anything but a victory.

HawksGoingBackward

April 27th, 2011
8:28 pm

I used to be a huge Hawks fan. I defended them to anyone who opposed their progression, to anyone who questions their direction.

Then I noticed that in every big game they have these mental lapses that dont company good teams. In every playoff series there isnt a player that steps to the forefront when things get the toughest kinda like when Bibby came out and called the Boston fans fairweathered to take the pressure off of his teammates because he could handle the pressure himself.

After last nights game 5, how many players did you see dive for a loose ball?

How many players did you see give a hard foul to send any type of message?

How many players did you see give any effort that would be considered extra-ordinary?

NONE.

This Hawks team will go as far as their best player will take them, This organization will go as far as the coaching will take them, and after 8 years (since I moved to Atl) I see that they arent going far at all. (check the name)

Ive never seen a team so willing to bend over and take it anyway an opposing team wants to give it to them. Any adversity and this team folds, how do you expect people to root for that.

J from the A

April 27th, 2011
8:36 pm

L.D. said, “I told the players after last night’s game we are still in a great position.”

This is the problem. No sense of urgency. No team is in a great position until they have won … it all. When the C’s won their first two games, did Doc say they were in a great position? No, he ripped into them over their quality of play in spite of the fact that they won. smh.

Joke Johnson

April 27th, 2011
8:37 pm

Say what you want, but the fact of the matter is we have a joke of a starting shooting guard who has a max contract. Joke Johnson was and will never be a Kobe, Lebron, Wade, D. Rose, etc. He is soft and weak. When was the last time a real superstar going scored 5 pts in a closeout game and completely quit on defense. Please trade this joke of a team captain.

O'Brien

April 27th, 2011
9:11 pm

Section 303,

These Hawks are like no other. They are just as likely to lose by 30 one game, and then win the next game on the road when nobody thought they would. As nire says, they are consistently inconsistent.

I would not be surprised to see them come out and win game 6, but then lose game 1 by 30 to the Bulls. They are very up and down.

it was not a bad pick,

The problem is, since the Hawks passed over CP3 and Deron Williams, there has been instability at PG. And then this error was compounded by the drafting of Shelden.

Buddy Grizzard

April 27th, 2011
9:16 pm

We get to see the real Joe Johnson in Game 6. Horford needs to step up and show up. His field goal percentage has dropped precipitously compared to the regular season. Josh needs to not take another three pointer for the rest of the series.

And Las Vegas Larry needs to sit his ass on the bench and spectate. He has proven beyond a doubt that he is not capable of coaching an NBA playoff team. In Game 2, he sat an All Star for an entire half and allowed Orlando to win by 6 points and avoid a sweep. The Hawks could be resting up right now getting ready for a CHI series.

In Game 5, with Dwight Howard on the bench and nothing to save Orlando but perimeter players, Las Vegas Larry benched KH, a perimeter defender, and sent JC1 out there to take long jump shots and ignite the Orlando fast break. It reminded me of Bret Lagree of Hoopinion’s analysis after the Game 2 disaster. He said Las Vegas Larry “did everything in his power to ensure an Orlando victory.”

We’ve got an All Star frontcourt player in Al Horford and a potential All Star in J-Smoove, but do we go inside against Orlando after DH goes to the bench? No, look at the play-by-play to close out the first quarter after DH checked out and JC1 checked in. JC1 missed 25 footer, missed 20 footer, missed 23 footer. Meanwhile Orlando went from up 10-8 to close out the first doubling the Hawks up 26-13.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
9:26 pm

“Peyton Hillis? he beat Mike Vick in the final. Peyton Hillis? Cleveland Browns? Really?”

Big fan of Hillis. Fantasy free agent pickup of the year. I’m glad Vick lost anyway; part of me still believes in the Madden Curse.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
9:29 pm

““Certainly we can use bulletin-board material. But at this stage of the game it’s just about us coming ready to do battle. ”

I’m with LD on this. If players need some columnist to fire them up at this stage of the game, they don’t belong here in the first place. It’s good to get us fired up though. Maybe they should put copies of that column on every seat in Philips before the game.

Buddy Grizzard

April 27th, 2011
9:34 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
9:40 pm

The silver lining for us as fans is that if the Hawks win, of course that’s the result we all want, but even if they lose, presumably big and necessary changes are on the horizon.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 27th, 2011
9:42 pm

Big Talk!

Mums the word. Sshhh … Haven’t the Magic learned to be quiet from the Jameer comment to Rose. When you are down in a series and history is not on your side, you should keep your head down and shoulder on the boulder and grind.

Not Talk Big. Pride is before a crash. To overcome the Hawks, the Magic need a three game swep of the hapless Hawks. As hapless as they are, they can and will still beat the Magic.

Worldwide has said all along, “Hawks in 6.”. I hope he is right.
But, to lose the way the Hawks did last night is utterly unacceptable -
It was just wronge’. Just wronge’ on every level – pathetic.
Downright tragic.

To a man, from the front door, to the floor, to the window, to the wall -
till the sweat drop of their balls.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 27th, 2011
10:03 pm

Epic Changes!

Najeh, I agree with your comment up there.

However, do you trust that the eight feces throwing orangutans will come together to agree upon a vetted buyer’s offer, without discourse?

What if, they resort to slinging urine next and begin filing injunctions if
the appraiser returns a franchise property value lower than what they paid in this down market?

That is what they did to low ball Steve Belkin when he tried to settle and surrender a quit claim. To date, they have yet to even buy him out seven years later.

Do you trust them to make the right changes in lieu of any sale.
You know they don’t spend wisely as it is.

There are so many questions surrounding this organization, a term I use loosely. I would be thrilled just to see the ASKG sell this franchise without it being a story.

I would love to hear your thoughts. I wait eagerly. I can’t even talk about the team right now, my heart is worn.

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:04 pm

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:10 pm

J From The A,

Jamal was making very similar comments. The guys just want to play better tomorrow – they don’t want to win

SMDH

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:11 pm

If we don’t defend the damn P&R tomorrow, we are finished

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:12 pm

Center Al Horford said it’s not exactly pressure the Hawks are feeling since they aren’t facing elimination.

“There’s a sense of urgency, though,” he said Wednesday. “We know that we have to handle our business here at home.”

SMDH

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:13 pm

LD: They were the desperate team. They played that way. We didn’t respond to it.”

How can you be saying things like that in the Playoffs? EFFORT should always be a given in the Playoffs

JeJe

April 27th, 2011
10:14 pm

The Orlando roster is full of punks:

Dwight
Q-Rich
J-Rich
Jameer

Harpie

April 27th, 2011
10:15 pm

Larry Drew: Worst coach in history!!!!!!!!!

Mike is back

April 27th, 2011
10:21 pm

MC, like stated in a previous blog…these opportunist don’t give a crap about the Hawks…hey everybody likes to kick you…when your down.

I will admit it’s disheartening watching the level of ineptitude this team can reach…so it’s kind of hard to blame the Hawks detractors…even ole Wilbond…the numbers don’t lie.

Heck, I’m already eating crow…I’M GOING TO SAY WE STILL WIN THE SERIES…in a perfect world…the Hawks will win game six…however we talking about the Hawks…so forgive me…if I’m kind of feeling a lil skiddish.lol

WIN OR GO HOME…That’s whatzup…Lets go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

drmaryb (*_-)

April 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

Who is that Grizzly back up center that got displaced by Gasol?
Does anyone think he could help the Hawks, or is he a total buster?

I’m tired of settling for scrubbage at center – we need some cabbage!

O'Brien

April 27th, 2011
10:23 pm

Despite being up 3-1, and playing in San Antonio against the #1 seed, its nice to see Memphis not quitting like the Hawks. In fact, they are up 3 going into the 4th. I hope they pull it off.

Earlier in the year, Rick compared the hawks to the Spurs. And I think the Spurs are in a similar position like the Hawks now.

If Spurs lose in the first round, i think they will have to break up the core, because they have been eliminated early the last 3 seasons. And Duncan isnt getting any younger. Tony Parker in a trade…anyone?

The Real Mandingo

April 27th, 2011
10:25 pm

In order to improve the Hawks’ chance of winning Game 6, I think Coach LD should strongly consider starting Jamal Crawford aka Crawdaddy in lieu of Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter and/or third quarter. I believe if Jamal and Joe establish themselves as efficient and prolific scorers out the gate, this will further enable the dynamic duo to be better clutch scorers down the stretch, if, and when, necessary. The best recipe for the Hawks’ success is that Joe and Jamal combine for 40+, preferably 50+, points. Depending on how Josh Smith is playing in Game 6, I would sub in Kirk Hinrich for Josh Smith early or late in the first quarter. I heard Greg Anthony say the following on NBATV after the Hawks Game 2 loss when discussing LD’s move to sit Al Horford for the remainder of the first half after Horford received two early fouls in first quarter: “All bets are off, this is playoffs. If I’m a (head) coach, I want my best players on the floor most of the game.” I would rather have Jamal get it going early from an offensive standpoint than have him come in off the bench late in the first quarter and miss his first three or four shots. We all know Jamal begins to press when he misses his first few shots. This Orlando Magic team, although revamped, is still an experienced team and should not be compared to the Milwaukee Bucks of last years playoff team which the Hawks defeated in two elimination games (Game 6 and Game 7). That Bucks team had a rookie point guard (Brandon Jennings) and no Andrew Bogut at center.

Furthermore, the Hawks just need to do what they did in Games 1, 3, and 4 of this series versus the Magic, work on the pick and roll defense, and use the guard to guard pick and roll with Joe and Jamal with both guards taking turns handling the ball on the guard to guard pick and roll. The Hawks are still in a good position to close out this series.

Wabe

April 27th, 2011
10:25 pm

O’Brien, you beat me to it.

Exactly what I was about to say. Memphis fans should appreciate what the Grizzlies are doing. Even if they do come out losing tonight, they still didn’t lay down like the Hawks did last night.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

Brevin Knight is doing commentary for this MEM-SA game on NBA TV. Shout out to former Hawks.