Archive for April, 2011

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 103, Magic 93

Orlando– We already knew the Hawks can defend the Magic but it’s possible they won’t be able to score like this through the entire series.

  • The Hawks made 13 of 27 shots from 16 to 23 feet. That’s a high percentage even for a team that made them at a better clip than anyone other than the Mavs during the regular season.
  • But, thanks in large part to J.J, the Hawks also had an effective Plan B (11 of 19 from 3 to 15 feet) and Plan C (21 of 29 free-throw attempts). That provides some evidence that the Hawks might be able to score when those long Js stop falling if they can make it a point to go to those other plans.
  • “The primary problem is we couldn’t guard them at all,” Stan Van Gundy said.
  • And, Xs and Os aside, the most important development might have been that the Hawks finally stood up to the Magic in a postseason game. That’s worth a lot for a team that was embarrassed in last year’s second round and staggered into the playoffs on a six-game losing streak.
  • “People were a …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 103, Magic 93 »

Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 1: Why will it be any different this time?

Orlando–That’s the question, isn’t it?

Unless you believe lots of Twin vs. Dwight is going to make up for 101 points of beat down. . . or Orlando vs. Atlanta without VC, Rashard and Gortat is that much worse than Orlando vs. Atlanta with J-Rich and Arenas . . . or L.D. is going to get something out of these players that Woody couldn’t . . . then there has to be something else to explain how the Hawks can win this series.

I’ve said I think the problem with the Hawks isn’t that they are good enough but just aren’t utilized properly or give in too easily, but rather they give in because they realize they are just not good enough. But I could be wrong about that. Maybe “something else” for the Hawks has nothing to do with match ups or lineups or shot selection or L.D.

Perhaps that’s why Hawks coaches included a couple appeals to players’ character among the usual keys on the pregame board:

“Good or bad, go to the next play.”

“Show no weakness or frustration.”

So I asked the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 1: Why will it be any different this time? »

Atlanta Hawks: Playoff preview bonanza

Finally, it’s almost time to end the talking and start the games. Here is my take on the match ups and below are some series previews from around the Inter Webs for your pleasure:

Jason Walker (aka THHB), Peachtree Hoops

My serious summary is this: The Hawks have proven, on the court, that they match up very well with the Magic, even when the Hawks don’t bring their “A” game. If the team is able to defend Howard one-on-one and maintain the defensive blueprint for closing out their shooters, as they have consistently this season, then they can win 4 out of 7 games against this team and move on.

I believe they can and will do just that.

Final Prediction: Hawks in 7

Now, back to my padded white room.

Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post

“[Team X] will only go so far in the postseason as [Player Y] takes them” is an axiom in professional sports, and almost invariably [Player Y] is indisputably the team’s best player. As it applies to the Orlando Magic in this year’s playoffs …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Playoff preview bonanza »

Atlanta Hawks: Judging Joe Johnson

It would seem the pressure is on J.J for the playoffs.

He faded during the playoffs last spring and dismissed Hawks booing Hawks fans. J.J. came out of last year’s free agent summer with the most expensive contract in the league, one that limits the team’s financial flexibility going forward. He made his fifth consecutive All-Star game but just finished the least productive and efficient of his six seasons with the Hawks.

J.J. is the Hawks’ lead dog, and lead dogs in the NBA usually are judged by how far they take their squads. But J.J. said he doesn’t feel that burden.

“Not at all,” J.J. said. “In this case, it is not like that. We’ve got equal opportunity around here. We ain’t just depending on one guy. We’ve got two All-Stars. It’s not just going to be all on me. I don’t get all of the glory when we win so I don’t get to take all the [blame] when we lose.”

But as he said during the Orlando series last year, chances are J.J. will “take a lot of heat” if he stumbles and the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Judging Joe Johnson »

Atlanta Hawks: Bobcats 96, Hawks 85

Charlotte–The starters were -53 in this game, a number that’s enhanced by Zaza and Hinrich the entire third quarter alongside reserves. Over the final four games of the season Atlanta’s starters were -215.

  • The Hawks finished with 44 Ws and a six-game losing streak. They were 11-20 after Feb. 5.
  • The Hawks didn’t put much into these last four games. It’s still not a good look for a group with a history of taking that approach for games in which the outcome does matter.
  • L.D.: “I was hoping it wouldn’t end like this. Those couple of games on the road, at Indiana and Washington, I was really hoping the guys would play at a high level but they didn’t respond to that. Now that this thing is over with, we have got to flip the switch. I am pretty confident we will do that.”
  • The Hawks say they will be ready come Saturday.
  • Al: No question. We were in a different situation since we already clinched. I felt like our focus shifted a little bit because we felt secure. We didn’t feel the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Bobcats 96, Hawks 85 »

Atlanta Hawks at Bobcats: No. 82

Charlotte–The regular season ends anticlimactically for the Hawks tonight. They didn’t practice yesterday and I didn’t make this morning’s shootaround in Charlotte so no word on who will play and for how long. I will update pregame, in case anyone cares. . . .

PREGAME UPDATE: Hawks-Magic Game 1 is Saturday at 7 p.m. The rest of the schedule comes out later tonight.

Twin is out but his status is still a go for Saturday. “I think he will be fine,” L.D. said. “He got some work in yesterday. He came over today early and got some work in. He should be ready to go.”

Starters are Hinrich, Joe, Josh, Al and Zaza. Armstrong, Rolle and Twin are inactive.

Drew said he plans to play the starters “a few minutes.”

“I won’t have anybody in the 30s,” he said. “I will try to keep them in the low 20s.”

L.D. wasn’t talking as much about trying to use this game to gather momentum: “Just looking at what happened to the Lakers last night, Chicago had a couple of guys hurt–that’s always a fear in …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks at Bobcats: No. 82 »

Atlanta Hawks: Heat 98, Hawks 90

  • A lineup of Teague, Jamal, Damien, Josh Powell and Zaza played the entire fourth quarter and nearly beat a Heat crew that included LeBron for 12 minutes, D-Wade for 10 and Bosh for 6.
  • That’s an aberration but it also was the kind of spirited play that’s been missing since the Hawks beat Boston. The Hawks had been searching for something good in these meaningless games and finally got it.
  • Still, is the play of the bench in this game going to mean more for Atlanta’s series vs. Orlando than the play of the starters over the last three games? The guys that play the most minutes got drilled by the Heat two nights after they couldn’t put down Washington’s D-Leaguers.
  • At least nobody got hurt. “The main thing is to be healthy because that’s been our Achilles’ heel the last two years,” Smoove said.
  • Marvin played 19 (productive and efficient minutes) and Josh logged 24 (pretty good, especially on the offensive boards, but for a couple untimely turnovers) minutes.
  • Josh said the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Heat 98, Hawks 90 »

Heat at Atlanta Hawks: Williams injury shows risks of gearing up for meaningless games

Marvin turned an ankle at Washington and may not play tonight. I remember Marvin limping a bit during the game but he ended up playing 29 minutes and I don’t recall him getting treatment after the game.

In any event, Marvin’s injury provides a (admittedly after-the-fact) counterargument to the notion that the Hawks need to use these games to get ready for the playoffs.

“You are hoping your team looks at is an opportunity to gain momentum going into the playoffs,” L.D. said. “Looking at the last couple games, that’s not the case and I am concerned about that. But at the same time, keeping things in their proper perspective, we want to try to get to the playoffs as healthy as we can. What happened to Marvin the other night is the one thing you don’t want to happen where you get a starter or key guy hurt in a game that has very little meaning.”

Josh will return to the lineup tonight. L.D. said Josh will play limited minutes with the main goal of getting him some work after …

Continue reading Heat at Atlanta Hawks: Williams injury shows risks of gearing up for meaningless games »

Atlanta Hawks: Wizards 115, Hawks 83

WASHINGTON–You kinda get the feeling the Hawks really aren’t buying into this momentum for the playoffs thing.

  • “Kinda get the feeling?” L.D. said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges of a coach when you get in these situations with a spot sealed up. The mindset for some players in this situation is the games have no meaning.”
  • “Guys were really just going through the motions out there,” Al said.
  • Since the Hawks have made it clear they really don’t care about these games, the question is whether they can suddenly turn it on for the playoffs.
  • “I honestly don’t know because you have to have some type of momentum going into the playoffs,” Al said. “Even if you are not winning you have to be playing well. I think we were doing that about a week ago and these last two games we just kind of laid down.”
  • “I hope so,” J.J. said. “Honestly, I don’t know. It’s been pretty much unacceptable the last two games. I can’t really just pinpoint one thing. We just haven’t been playing hard. We …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Wizards 115, Hawks 83 »

Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew’s dilemma

Washington–I honestly don’t know the right answer to this health vs. momentum dilemma faced by L.D. There is some inherent contradiction in his declaration that health is most important and his desire to finish the season with momentum but, in my view at least, both have merit.

Several Hawks players are banged up and could probably use some rest but don’t they also have to stay in tune? The team hasn’t played well since February but, at this point, aren’t the Hawks as good as they are going to get and so the “fine tuning” L.D. is looking for is too little, too late?

You can sense that players also aren’t quite sure how to feel about the situation.

J.J. says health is the main concern but in the next breath he says he wants to get his game in gear. “My main concern right now is getting into some kind of rhythm going into the playoffs,” he said.

Al says it’s important for the Hawks to “get better as a team and keep up our shape” but then comes out of the equation favoring time …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew’s dilemma »