Atlanta Hawks: Celtics pride

In my story for today’s AJC, I noted that it’s never opposing players who write off the Celtics as too old. Maybe that’s only because they don’t give a famously prickly Boston group any extra motivation but my feeling is it’s genuine respect (and wariness).

Marvin Williams seemed genuinely confused as to why anyone would say such a thing about a team with three shoo-in Hall of Famers and another player on track to follow them. LeBron James and Chris Bosh cited those credentials, too, when brushing off the washed up theory.

So if the Hawks end up drawing Boston in the playoffs, which is a very real possibility, it would set up an interesting series. And that’s not just because of the past skirmishes between these teams.

Remember, part of the Hawks’ rationale for keeping the proverbial “core” together for another run this year was because the owners and Rick Sund believed this group had built up some scar tissue from their past playoff failures. The Hawks are just 2-12 in the East semifinals over the past three years but management hopes the incremental advances–pushing Boston to seven games, beating (pre-SuperFriends) Miami, avenging the Orlando beatdown, winning Game 1 at Chicago–is part of a hardening process that will pay off this season.

And so what better way to test that approach than to tangle with the Celtics, the most hardened team of them all? Orlando and Indiana are better matchups for the Hawks but beating Boston would give them more credibility going forward. That would be true even in any case but it’s especially true now because the Celtics are playing better than anyone in the East.

Larry Drew:

They know how to win. They’ve been in a number of situations where they know how to deal with injury. They’ve kind of changed their lineup with [Avery] Bradley starting, [Ray] Allen off the bench. They are a veteran ball club, they have been in those trenches long enough they know how to win. We have to play with the consistency we’ve been seeking all year. It’s going to be playoff energy, playoff intensity. We are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. It will be a big challenge for us. . . .

[Paul] Pierce is a guy who has always been kind of a thorn in our side. You know what Ray Allen is capable of doing. You know [Kevin Garnett] is capable of solid games. [Rajon] Rondo has shown to be a solid point guard in this league that can put up phenomenal numbers. They seem to find a way. People always kind of dismiss them because they’ve played a lot of games but when the smoke clears, they are always there. That’s just a testament that these guys have been in the trenches enough times. I will say it again: They know how to win. They are not going to beat themselves. We have to go in there and we have to put four solid quarters together.

ESPN.com’s John Hollinger recently broke down Boston’s resurgence (Insider) and marveled at their stretch of defensive domination (he wrote this before Boston beat Miami last night):

Boston has allowed an astounding 92.9 points per 100 possessions over its past 15 games, according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, a figure which has propelled it to the league lead in defensive efficiency.

Let me help you try to grasp the significance of that 92.9 figure. The league average in offensive efficiency in that stretch shot up to 103.0, as every NBA team (except the ones playing Boston) found its post-lockout offensive rhythm.

So in the past 15 games, Boston’s defensive efficiency is a full 10 points better than the league average, a feat which nobody has done for a full season since … actually nobody has ever done that. Not even the 2008 champions, who were only 7.98 points better. . . .

When Bradley and Garnett play together, Boston gives up 88.8 points per 100 possessions, allows 38.8 percent shooting and forces nearly one turnover for every assist. This is scary stuff, and it’s not one of those small-minute flukes, either — they’ve played 658 minutes together.

You think that’s impressive? How’s this: When Rondo and Bradley play together, opponents average 82.2 points per 100 possessions.

That’s nearly 20 points below the league average. It’s in 271 minutes, so it’s not as robust a sample as the data with Garnett, but good heavens. The Celtics barely need to bother with an offense if the D is going to provide this kind of domination.

The Heat finally figured out Boston’s D only to watch the Celtics make a series of big shots and regularly get to the free-throw line. The Celtics know how to find a way, and it takes either a very talented or a very tough team to overcome it. It helps to be both, like the Celtics.

By winning tonight, the Hawks can provide some evidence that they are on Boston’s level now that they are relatively healthy. That statement would be mitigated somewhat by the schedule, same as Boston’s W at Philips came against a depleted Hawks roster and Atlanta’s third game in four nights.

There would be no such asterisks if the Hawks vanquished the Celtics in what certainly would be a physical, low-possession, grinder. It would not be the ultimate goal but it would be the best evidence yet that the Hawks are truly hardened.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

76 comments Add your comment

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
1:11 pm

Who is this 4th Hall of Famer on the Celtics that LeBron and Marvin are talking about? Rondo? Am I missing something? Rondo is really good, but HOF caliber?

High-sider

April 11th, 2012
1:11 pm

Michael Cunningham

April 11th, 2012
1:15 pm

@Najeh: they are projecting Rondo. he’s 168th on the probability list, according to that Basketball Reference link included in this post, and he’s just 26 so i’d say he has a shot.

Astro Joe

April 11th, 2012
1:25 pm

Maybe Josh can play SF on offense against the Celtics, but I don;t want him guarding Pierce on defense. Josh doesn’t do too well against 3-point shooters as he likes to stay closer to the rim to provide help defense. That doesn’t work against marginal guys like Matt Bonner (i.e. “Josh Kryptonite”), it would be DEATH against someone like Paul Pierce.

jeppz23

April 11th, 2012
1:25 pm

The hawks better toughen up tnite and get it done..the Celtics won’t just hand it over

SteveW

April 11th, 2012
1:26 pm

MC dude – You stole this from me. On last blog post I had an entire entry on Celtics Pride.

Thief

And I know you’ll do the obligatory already writing it etc, but we know the truth don’t we?

On well, picking on you MC. Just give credit where credits due.

Or it could be a case of great minds think alike, or something like that.

Rev in Tampa

April 11th, 2012
1:27 pm

I’ve been hearing the buzz grow regarding the Celtics over the past few days. And last night’s win over the Heat resulted in a convergence of the growing voices. Sounds like a cacophony to me.

I predict the Hawks take care of business tonight. Teague has a big night.

vava74

April 11th, 2012
1:30 pm

from previous blog:

Rod,

Always skewing reality in your favor.

First you “forget” that we got to the second round in 2009 to “validate” the essentiality of having Jamal on our roster when we went AS FAR with Flip.

MIA was bad? Again, another “nudge” to make your point…

Umm… yes, they were nothing to rave about that MIA team BUT… last year ORL were really not substantially better than that MIA team.

Wade is waaaaay better than Howard in my book and the filler in both rosters was more or less equivalent.

Also, you say:

“Mo Evans and Marvin trying to check Lebron, and Delonte West shuting down Iso Joe. It was ugly.”

You forget THREE facts which weighted against us on that CLE sweep:

1. Horford was injured badly and hardly could play.
2. Marvin was injured badly and hardly could play.
(JJ was also hurt, limping noticeably)
3. The refs simply killed us.

Note: Earlier that year with the roster at full strenght we had been very competitive against CLE (including Marving doing a good job on Lefart)

Michael Cunningham

April 11th, 2012
1:31 pm

@SteveW: haha . . . i assure you i have not seen your post. interesting, though, that this would be your assumption.

JCW

April 11th, 2012
1:32 pm

I will be at the game tonight. I think its it going to be playoff like atmosphere…hopefully the Hawks pull out win…but I will be cheering for the team win or lose…

Blake

April 11th, 2012
1:33 pm

Sorry….the Hawks fall apart In games like this…all Atlanta teams do!…I hope I’m proven wrong but I don’t think so….

SteveW

April 11th, 2012
1:35 pm

MC – I take your word for it. I’m on the iPhone right now. I may re post it too let you see.

jeppz23

April 11th, 2012
1:35 pm

This game is really gonna test how far this team has come this season..

Rusty

April 11th, 2012
1:37 pm

Nortcyde it seems funny hearing you saying anything good about JC2 I remember you saying he was nothing but a volume shooter who was not that good . Also I never remembered you not saying many good things about JT, I remembered you as being a great mike b fan.

northcyde

April 11th, 2012
1:39 pm

Right now, Rondo is tracking to be at 12 point – 10 asst – 4 rebound – 2 steal guy on a yearly basis.

That would put him up with guys like Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, and Isaiah Thomas. He already has a ring. If Rondo becomes a more prolific scorer and makes multiple All-STar and All-NBA teams in the coming years, I could see him in the Hall of Fame.

- 3 All-Star games
- 3 All-Defensive selections
- 0 All-NBA selections ( which he’ll have to get on a few of them )

northcyde

April 11th, 2012
1:41 pm

Rusty that is complete BS . . and I can pull up a post right now that will prove you wrong. I was ALWAYS high on Jordan Crawford . . it was Jamal’s gunning self that bothered me, because his shot selection hindered him from being a much more efficient player than what he is.

At least with Jordan, he is young, and still has time to refine his game. Jamal, on the other hand, is set in his ways, and will jack up bad shots regardless of how cold he is.

MsDee

April 11th, 2012
1:43 pm

@northcyde, “@MsDee . . . the point still stands. You don’t win Executive of the Year ( or even get fringe votes ), unless you or your team does something significant during the regular season. Just because the Hawks didn’t fall off the cliff with the loss of Horford, doesn’t mean that Sund is a great executive.

The “Dollar Tree” players that Sund acquired have been solid for the most part. But there will be no parades down Peachtree Street for those moves. Bring in a Chris Paul, however, and he’s seen as a great executive.”

Well, my point still stays too, the “Dollar Tree” players you called them are presently taking care of business til we could get the, not the Chris Paul of today, but the Chris Paul of 2014+..who knows, I bet you and I both will still be Hawks fans and thats all what matters!!

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
1:49 pm

Here is the Hollinger article about the Celtics from ESPN Insider.

northcyde

April 11th, 2012
1:49 pm

Here you go Crusty ( Rusty )

http://blogs.ajc.com/hawks/2010/10/12/atlanta-hawks-wizards-107-hawks-92/

***************************

northcyde

October 13th, 2010
12:23 am

Jordan Crawford in the last 2 games

50 pts ( 25 ppg )
12 assts ( 6 apg )
20 – 37 FG ( 54% FG )
50+ minutes

(( standing ovation ))

That a way to take advantage of all of that playing time. And I liked what MC said . . . “he didn’t look any different, regardless of who he was playing with”.

That’s the kind of bench player we need. A guy who will play his game at a high level, regardless of what starter or scrub he’s playing with. There are about 6 or 7 guys on this team who can’t say that.

******************************

northcyde

October 13th, 2010
2:51 pm

@ drmaryb . . . the need has ALWAYS been interior defense and rebounding, in my opinion. You can add shot blocking to that as well.

Even though the guy may not pan out in the NBA, I still would’ve used that #31 pick on a big man/shot blocker type. My guy was Jarvis Varnado out of Mississippi St, who is the all-time blocks leader in NCAA history. Even if the guy would’ve given us very little offensively, I still would’ve liked to see a guy like that try to be a shot blocking presence on the 2nd team. Others on this board were rooting for Hassan Whiteside ( another shot blocker ), or a Dexter Pittman ( a scorer/rebounder ).

Instead, we sell the pick, and go with journeymen scrubs on the interior.

I’ve never liked Dampier, but he would instantly become our best backup big man. And that’s really sad to say.

************

@ Ken Strickland

Woody would be SALIVATING all over Jordan Crawford, because he’s the exact type of guard that he likes. A guard who can create his own shot and score in a wide variety of ways. In fact, Woody would stir the waves so much, that Jeff Teague’s job would be in jeapordy if Woody was the coach.

Jordan is less talented than Jamal, but potentialy more talented than Flip. And all 3 do what Woody likes to see in a guard. Neither Teague nor Acie can score the ball like Jordan can.

Woody would’ve still been loyal to Bibby to a certain extent, but he would’ve given Jordan a legit opportunity to do his thing. Just like he did with Salim and Acie in their rookie years. At that point, it would be up to Jordan to play at a high level, to gain more playing time.

**************************

There about 10 – 15 people on this blog that has ALWAYS posted under one name, and not multiple names. Everything that we’ve typed over the years can be brought up at a moment’s notice.

And yes, I did doubt Teague very seriously, because he seems to have to be coaxed into being a leader, instead of automatically being one. He almost had to be forced to take a leader position. And he still really hasn’t taken it fully yet.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
1:52 pm

“they are projecting Rondo. he’s 168th on the probability list, according to that Basketball Reference link included in this post, and he’s just 26 so i’d say he has a shot.”

That link also thinks Amare Stoudemire has a better shot at the HOF than Steve Nash, which tells me it’s not all that accurate.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
1:57 pm

“Maybe Josh can play SF on offense against the Celtics, but I don;t want him guarding Pierce on defense. Josh doesn’t do too well against 3-point shooters as he likes to stay closer to the rim to provide help defense. That doesn’t work against marginal guys like Matt Bonner (i.e. “Josh Kryptonite”), it would be DEATH against someone like Paul Pierce.”

Valid criticism of the big lineup, and probably the biggest reason why I don’t favor going with it full time.

Considering how heavily this team relies on Josh, who as good as he is has glaring holes in his game, the Hawks will have to pick their poison in deploying him in some way, shape, or form. I think the disadvantage of having him chase Pierce around is less than the disadvantage of making him post up Garnett on the offensive end. He may struggle with Pierce on D, but he will be completely neutralized by Garnett on O.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
1:58 pm

“Teague has a big night.”

He is the X factor. He is the guy who can, if he wants, make life difficult for Rondo on offense and be a one man fast break (the Celtics are an atrocious offensive rebounding team, so fast break opportunities will be there). If he plays like he has played the last three games, the Hawks can beat most teams.

Michael Cunningham

April 11th, 2012
2:00 pm

@Najeh: picking out one example and dismissing the entire exercise on that basis is not how i would go about evaluating it.

here is the methodology and results:

“Of the 89 players in the Hall of Fame, 74 were correctly classified (83.1%) and 15 were not (16.9%). Of the 661 players not in the Hall of Fame, 651 were correctly classified (98.5%) and 10 were not (1.5%). Overall, 725 of the 750 players (96.7%) were correctly classified by the model.”

note that Rondo still has some ways to go to make his 0.5 used as the cut-off.

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:00 pm

Rusty

You`re nuts;
I`m the one who has never liked Jordan Crawford [still don`t].

northcyde has liked him from the git go.

Just another example of your vacuity.

MsDee

April 11th, 2012
2:03 pm

Wow, no love I see

MsDee

April 11th, 2012
2:04 pm

MC, eatting up my posts..whats bad about them??

MsDee

April 11th, 2012
2:06 pm

Jordan Crawford is not what the Hawks need..I tht he was but I believe we made the right decision..maybe not to necessarily get Kirk but nevertheless, right decision.

jeppz23

April 11th, 2012
2:08 pm

Doesn’t MC kinda favor Andre Aldridge?

Bucky

April 11th, 2012
2:09 pm

Any news or updates on how Al Horford is doing??? projected time back???

High-sider

April 11th, 2012
2:09 pm

^Correction^: “In Game 6, Zaza Pachulia scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in 29:33 of playing [time*].”

Astro Joe

April 11th, 2012
2:11 pm

Vacuity? Does Basketball-Reference have a dictionary? If not, I may be guilty of vacuity one day. :twisted:

Bravesfan79

April 11th, 2012
2:17 pm

Besides the fact that Boston is my 2nd favorite team in the league; the Hawks must at all costs avoid playing Boston in the first round!

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 11th, 2012
2:19 pm

MC!

You trying to scare us? Ha Ha … So – What! We ain’t neva, neva skurred!

Child Please!

“You want to crown their azzes? Go ahead and crown them then … We know who the Celtics are!” -drmaryb- (in Denny Green’s voice)

Here’s my point: so what! They beat up on some bad teams and took care of Miami? Miamai doesn’t scare me, nor do I care about any games they play! The Celtics will have to deal with Joe Johnson and the entire Hawks team, we match up well and we will run them out of the gym until their tongues wag! I hope they are over confident … I pray and hope they are.

Hawks WIN! 89-83 Hawks!!!

Bravesfan79

April 11th, 2012
2:20 pm

Best scenario for the Hawks. Get the 3 seed, hope the pacers get the 6th seed, and then after beating the Pacers play a Miami team that is very likely to have mental lapses and poor shooting nights from Labrick James.

SteveW

April 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

MC – Here is what I posted on your other blog at 11:23 am today:

“One word exemplifies those old Boston codgers, and also exemplifies Kobe Bryant.

Pride

In a good kind of way.”

BTW, why is it interesting that this would be my assumption? That you stole it – which I wrote with tongue planted rather firmly in cheek – (I knew that to run your sources that if would probably take more time from 11:23 to 1:07. Maybe not, but I thought probably anyhow).

Or that great minds think alike?

Are you saying one of us doesn’t have a great mind? HaHaHa – Oh well bro, check you later – good job on the article above.

pointguardslim

April 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

Stacking the bigs with Josh Smith at SF (Ivan, Pachulia)
How many times do I have to post this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuklWpNBhE0

That was a year ago when Smith was 245 or more.

Smith got lighter, Pierce got older. Also this criticism of Smith at SF in a big lineup, is mind boggling.

After years of proving his defensive acumen, you guys really think Josh Smith is bad defender as to say I need to go protect the rim, let me leave Paul Pierce wide open?

Josh currently sits behind Dwight Howard and ahead of Lebron James in defensive efficiency and Defensive Wins. Josh is a smart defender and can guard a 35yo Paul Pierce. Give him his due.

Rev in Tampa

April 11th, 2012
2:25 pm

Astro,

I just copied “vacuity” to look it up. My first guess is “emptiness”. Grandad has a broad vocabulary.

Yep. Just checked the definition:

va·cu·i·ty (v -ky -t , v -). n. pl. vac·u·i·ties. 1. Total absence of matter; emptiness. 2. An empty space; a vacuum. 3. Total lack of ideas; emptiness of mind.

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:26 pm

From a previous blog:

LD`s offense is not a jump shot offense ‘`per se`’.

LD`s offense is a ‘`Decision`’ offense:
Players have choices;
therefore they oft`times choose to place themselves
on the perimeter rather than in the post.
*[less work]
When reading a screen, thus making a cut;
the player should read the defender,
however, on occasion Josh may simply just float outside
as opposed to actually reading the cut.

Yes he has a choice, even if he reads it wrong,
he can post anytime he chooses.
Also the screener … goes opposite the cutter.
Josh rarely screens.
The screener is always open.
Notice how often Zaza gets open in the post;
as would Josh if he were as crafty as Zaza moving w/o the ball.

It is not the # of the position one plays.
It is how one plays the game.

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:30 pm

My last post was not anti Josh.
I only used him for example.
I could have used Joe.
-or-
I could have used Willie Green
as an example of how to ‘`get open -on- the perimeter`’.
*’`catch & shoot`’*

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 11th, 2012
2:30 pm

Breaking News!

NBC: George Zimmerman will be criminally charged for the death of Trayvon Martin at some point today.

Possible warrants: IMO only

2nd Degree Murder
Manslaughter (1)
Negligent Homicide
Assault with a Deadly Weapon

1st Degree Murder can not be charged without a Grand Jury and the State Prosecutor has decided to make her determination without the services of a Grand Jury.

DOJ: Eric Holder is running a parallel investigation for a Civil Rights violation separately. A Hate Crime is being thoroughly looked at.

Run George Run … There is no rock small enough for you to Slide under. What a slippery slope you have slimed up for yourself, sir. Fear not man, for God is the Almighty Judge and doer of justice. Turn yourself in and get yourself some rest now. These courts have nothing for you that God can not override and correct. The green eggs and ham are awaiting on the daily.
__________

-drmaryb- The Entertainment Reporter

SteveW

April 11th, 2012
2:31 pm

Rondo needs to play at a high level another 8-10 years to be a shoo-in for the HOF.

But he took a huge step in my book when he courageously played the Heat with 1 arm after that sickening elbow freak thing.

That dude is tough as nails, and the type guy I want on my team

SteveW

April 11th, 2012
2:32 pm

Rondo another 6 years at a high level – he’s close to the HOF.

But I can see he, Bradley, and Green getting a couple of other good players (maybe 3), and being really good in a few years.

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:35 pm

AJ & Rev

Never would I accuse you two of vacuousness.

pointguardslim

April 11th, 2012
2:39 pm

They say Bradley is going to go right at Kirk Hinrich.

I don’t see how we can win without a big lineup. We won’t get offensive boards unless we send 2-3 Capable guys to the boards, or in the post area, each time (Josh, Ivan, Pachulia).

What we have is Josh shooting and Pachulia crashing (1 guy to the board) or at most 2 guys (Josh, Ivan).

Bench Hinrich. Go at Bradley with Joe Johnson. Let Teague loose. Send the goon squad at the boards (Ivan Pachulia) and let Josh Smith use his length to make some steals in the backcourt.

That’s Josh at the 3 picking off a future Hall of Famer in Dirk and denying another HoFer in Jason Kidd.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6YPe3cqRzg

Let Josh be the glue guy instead of trying to make him score vs Garnett.

That’s like what Orlando does with Dwight Howard vs Zaza/Collins.

As long as Boston doesn’t double team Josh we will die with his shot selection. Just like Orlando with Dwight.

Go big or we lose today.

Thoughts MC?

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:41 pm

Rev

Rusty is in good company.

1st time I heard that word in context;
was describing … Sarah Palin.

-distant laughter in North Ga-

Najeh Davenpoop

April 11th, 2012
2:48 pm

“picking out one example and dismissing the entire exercise on that basis is not how i would go about evaluating it.”

There were other examples I thought of using (Baron Davis over Reggie Miller for example) but I stuck with one example for the sake of keeping my post short.

In any case, regardless of the accuracy of that system, I’m a little surprised that Rondo is regarded as a future Hall of Famer by his peers. I have been a fan of his since he was at Kentucky, but there are legitimate questions as to how good he would be if he played in a situation like what CP3 was in for his first six years or what Derrick Rose is in now, having to carry a team as the number one option. Statistically you could compare him to Jason Kidd, who was never a great shooter or scorer in his prime, but even Kidd managed to lead a team with no elite scorers to multiple NBA Finals appearances. Is Rondo that good? Stats don’t always tell the whole story.

Grandad

April 11th, 2012
2:53 pm

We are so funny on this board.

We want a Big line-up with Ivan
-but-
we do not wish for Josh to guard Pierce !

We want to go Big and crash the boards
-but-
the Celts are old, therefore we should run.

I`ve got it.
Let`s go with Pargo at the [1]
Teague at the[2]
-speed- and hey, hey, hey, no Kirk !
Josh at the [3] *’`point forward`’* [run the offense through him]
Ivan at the [4]
Zaza at the [5]
Man that`ll make everybody happy !

Whoops – wait up a sec – somethings missing ? hmmmmmmm ?
can`t quite put my finger on it.

Well at least Kirk ain`t startin` and we goin` big !
AND we got Big Shot Pargo in there.
[maybe he will hold it under double digit TOs]

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 11th, 2012
2:55 pm

Breaking News!

State Attorney Andrea Corey has announced a News Conference to be held @ 6PM tonight in Sanford, FLA to announce her decision in the Trayvon Martin case.

Tune in for additional details tonight @ 6PM.
_________
-drmaryb- The Entertainment Reporter

Astro Joe

April 11th, 2012
2:56 pm

Grandad, you can accuse me of being empty headed, but dammit, never accuse me of being vacuous. :lol:

Here’s hoping that the state of Florida takes the lead and not the Feds. A state conviction will carry more weight (IMO) and appear less political.

Section 303

April 11th, 2012
3:03 pm

I have to assume those Hall of Fame projections take in to account where the guy plays. Has to be bump for any player in a major market (NY, Chi, LA, Boston).

I still want that Celtics series in the first round. It will be tough. But, like Michael’s blog post says, winning that series will give the Hawks major credibility. Especially since everyone will be picking Boston to win.

I like the Hawks a lot tonight (almost hate to write that because it could be the kiss of death. They win, when I expect them to lose. And, lose when I expect them to win.)