Atlanta Hawks: On Doc Rivers punting home-court advantage

“Whether they play in Boston, Atlanta or Tokyo, the Celtics are going to beat the Hawks.”

That’s what Charles Barkley said the other night. It’s also what Doc Rivers implied over the final two weeks of the season.

Wasn’t that the message when Rivers started resting his players with home-court advantage against the Hawks still at stake? Didn’t Doc send out his “C” team against the Hawks at Philips Arena–and nearly win the game anyway? Certainly Doc earned the psyops W at that moment when Joe Johnson trudged back into the game because Atlanta’s reserves couldn’t finish off the likes of JaJuan Johnson.

“That’s mental,” Josh Smith said. “He’s a great mental coach. He plays mental games with his players and the other team. He’s a great coach. He knows what his team can do.”

The Celtics didn’t have to go all-out to get home-court advantage, either. The Hawks opened the door with that ugly home loss to the Raptors. Doc just shrugged.

“I’m taking rest and rhythm over home court,” he said over and over.

The unstated implication, of course, is that the Celtics don’t think they need home-court advantage beat the Hawks.

“I’m not going to be politically correct: Yes, I am a bit offended by that,” Jannero Pargo said. “I think it also shows the confidence they have in themselves, which is a good thing for them. But, yeah, I feel some type of way about that. They feel like they are going to win the first round whether it’s here or there.”

I suppose Boston’s nonchalance about home court is understandable for a group with championship rings and three players headed to Hall of Fame. The Celtics are 13-22 in playoff road games since 2008 so it’s not as if they don’t know they can do it (though it’s worth noting is they didn’t win at Philips in 2008 when they were much better and the Hawks not as good).

I’m sure supreme confidence is the default disposition for a franchise that has nearly as many playoff victories in the last four years as the Hawks have managed since 1988.

“They’ve won a championship,” Jeff Teague said. “They’ve won on the road in the playoffs. They are confident. We are confident, too. We don’t take offense to it. They feel like they can win on the road.”

Larry Drew: “They won a championship with a team a few years ago and they have a core of guys that are used to playing on the road in big-time situations. I’m sure that doesn’t faze them at all. Being a veteran ballclub, I can see where health is probably a little bit more important than home court. For us, it’s totally different.”

I’m not one to throw shade on Doc’s approach with his team. Not many coaches are more in tune with what their players need. Perhaps it’s less about Doc taking the Hawks lightly and more that he felt he had no choice but to ease his guys into the postseason.

Still, Doc’s strategy is not without risk.

It starts with the math: According to the NBA’s postseason media guide, teams with home-court advantage have won 76.3 percent of series since 1984. The Celtics were a mediocre road team this season–even their surge to end the season included a loss at Toronto when they were actually trying to win. And if the Celtics expect they’ll get their usual robust support from fans at Philips Arena, they may be out of luck: word is the Hawks expect the ratio will be much more in the home team’s favor for Game 1.

Also, it’s not as if the Celtics have overwhelmed the Hawks this season. Boston is a poor offensive team and an even worse rebounding team.

In other words, the Celtics have plenty of warts for a team that seems so unconcerned about home-court advantage. But I’m all for playing this series in Tokyo.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

244 comments Add your comment

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:06 pm

There will be enough green in the stands of Philips Arena to make the Celtics feel at home.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
2:06 pm

If this series is anything like 2008, Celtics fans are not going to be heard from very much in Philips. The crowds at those games were as good as any I have seen at any sporting event, and definitely the best I have seen in person. Hawks gotta take advantage and hold on to home court, though.

MC, do you have any idea if Ray Allen will play this series? To me, he is the difference between the Celtics being a decent offensive team vs. a poor offensive team.

drmaryb.[*_*].

April 28th, 2012
2:11 pm

Banner Banter!

“After the Celtics end the Hawks season, I heard Danny and Doc are going to give the Hawks this years Celtics Division Champs banner as a consolation prize.” – what a sham!e -
_____________

And, if the Hawks were in your division, they would give it back. The Hawks don’t want no division banner either. So, enjoy your consolation prize – you earned that with your play, it’s the only banner you will achieve this year, as it comes with an asterick* (no HCA).

Even if lucky enough to get past the HAWKS, you will not win a championship. Those days are over for the foreseeable future, so enjoy the 17 won in the past. Most, before you were probably born.

lal909

April 28th, 2012
2:11 pm

Hawks win in 6

jeppz23

April 28th, 2012
2:16 pm

Hawks got this thing in 6..

Philips might not be the best venue in the regular season, butt the ppl of Atlanta support this team well when the playoffs come around

drmaryb.[*_*].

April 28th, 2012
2:18 pm

Between the Lines!

This series will be played and won between the ears, and the court lines. Not, between the L and R margains of any blog pages.

LT

April 28th, 2012
2:18 pm

The Orlando Magic underestimated the Atlanta Hawks in the first round last year too and you see where that got them…… watching the remaing playoff games at home!

GO HAWKS!!!!!

rollo lawson

April 28th, 2012
2:22 pm

I get sick and tired of the national media penciling in Miami and Chicago foe the ECF. The Hawks should be tired of it too. If we play smart (Josh), take advantage of mis-matches (Bradley trying to guard Joe), play aggressively at all times (Teague), make the extra pass (Josh), and get T. Mac substantive minutes (Drew), we win this series.

I believe we need to re-insert Marvin into the starting line-up and send Hinrich to the bench.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:26 pm

Next summer the Celtics will sign Dwight Howard and Josh Smith to play with Rondo, Bradley and Jeff Green.

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

April 28th, 2012
2:28 pm

Doc Rivers is arrogant when he wins but he cries like a female dog when he loses.

BIG IVAN FOR PRESIDENT

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

April 28th, 2012
2:30 pm

We have to drive to the basket and get Garnett into foul trouble. All them jumpers ain’t gonna cut it. Force them to play Sean Williams.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:30 pm

Doc Rivers often refers to his days with the Hawks as “The Dark Years”.

O'brien

April 28th, 2012
2:31 pm

FTPB,

Northcyde, Rod

I agree that the Hawks need to play defense and rebound to give themselves a chance to win. However, in the first 2 games against the Celtics this season, Hawks gave up 79 points in game 1, and 88 points in game 2, which went to OT. I don’t think defense was the problem. We only scored 76 in game 1, and 86 in game 2 (including 0 points in the OT period).

On the other hand, we scored 117 against Denver, and lost. Scored 109 against Miami, and lost. Scored 112 against the Knicks and lost.

And therein lies the problem (imo). The Hawks don’t have an identity, and will let their opponent dictate the tempo, and we respond accordingly. That is not a good recipe for playoff success. So who knows what to expect.

However, against these Celtics, i think it will be a low scoring series. Hawks will have to score the ball.

ClassicHawks

April 28th, 2012
2:35 pm

@Najeh, Yeah I was at Game 6 and the crowd was Epic! Best Experience at a Sporting Event I had ever been too, period. Kevin Garnett said he never heard Atlanta Crowd Sound like that. It was Amazing at old 100 Techwood Drive!

SWAT Native

April 28th, 2012
2:37 pm

Way too much is being made of this. If they had the HCA and Ray, KG and Pierce came in hobbling, they were way more likely to lose. Resting his players was Doc’s best shot. That said, they still almost got HCA – it came down to the final game.

I think this series comes down again to game 7. This time it’s in the Highlight Factory.

O'brien

April 28th, 2012
2:39 pm

As for the Josh Smith discussion, I think KG will be playing center. Therefore, if LD starts Josh at center, history suggests Josh could have issues going up agains KG in the post, and if that happens, he will take jumpers.

First Celtics game, Josh was 3-13 on jumpers outside the paint. Game 2, he was 8-15 on his jumpers from outside the paint.

We better hope he is making his jumpers.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:39 pm

The Highlight Factory?

tee hee hee

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
2:40 pm

Shamrock,

Can you show me a quote or link where Rivers said that. Also do you live in New England?Also how old are you?How loing you been watching Celtics?

GoCelts

April 28th, 2012
2:40 pm

I can’t wait to hear all the Go Celtcs chants at Phillips Arena tomorrow night!

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

April 28th, 2012
2:42 pm

I hope the Hawks sweep the Celtics

bbfan

April 28th, 2012
2:45 pm

For thoses old enough to remember, is Josh a better or equal player compared to sir Charles? During his era, I remember Charles as a good player, no where near great. If you listen to all the ish he talks, you would think he was in the league with, Jordan, Magic and Bird.

High-sider

April 28th, 2012
2:45 pm

I hope the Hawks’ starters and reserves can replace the explosive scoring and clutch free throw shooting of its “Boston Strangler” aka Jamal Crawford.

http://www.nba.com/statistics/index.html – see FT% stats

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:47 pm

Born, raised & live in Massachusetts, (not a Democrat so don’t blame me); I’ve been following the Celtics since they drafted Bird (I was at the game when Bird stole the ball…talk about loud!); and Doc Rivers never said such a thing (I made it up to bust balls).

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
2:51 pm

High-sider:

There was only one “Boston Strangler” and that moniker belongs to Andrew Toney of the old Philadelphia 76ers…well…I guess two, if you want to include Albert DeSalvo.

bbfan

April 28th, 2012
2:55 pm

Yeah, I’m sure Doc is alittle paranoid whenever he eats out in Boston, afterall, they did try to poison him the night before the shootout between Nique and Bird.

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
3:08 pm

Shamrock,

Ok. I know Mass very well have friends who live up there and went to college. I went to uconn myself in ct. you really think Celtics making the finals with the injuries you have right now?

Philly looks over matched and they stated they wanted the Bulls

Tootsi

April 28th, 2012
3:11 pm

” word is the Hawks expect the ratio will be much more in the home team’s favor for Game 1.”

MC, while I hope this is the case, how exactly can this be determined ahead of time? You don’t list your team affiliation when you purchase a ticket so I’m not sure how they can “expect” that the ratio will be better. However, as Najeh said, if it is anything like 2008, that will be HUGE advantage. In a book written after their 2008 title, the big 3 said it was the loudest and most hostile crowd they had ever experienced. We can only hope so.

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
3:11 pm

bbfan,

If Barkley was on this Hawks team, Hawks would be in the Finals.He is a better overall offensive player than Smith, Smith better help and individual defender and better athletically and legth

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
3:19 pm

brigadierjerry:

The only way the Celtics make it to the finals is if there are key injuries to other teams.

Buddy Grizzard

April 28th, 2012
3:21 pm

Ivan Johnson is the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April.

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
3:23 pm

Shamrock,

So then why are you on the Hawks blog trollin or more importantly would you be shocked if Atlanta wins this series?I dont see you if you do beat the Hawks getting past Chicago.

Anonymouse

April 28th, 2012
3:31 pm

@drmaryb.[*_*].
u mad bro?

IMA butthurt

April 28th, 2012
3:34 pm

A lot of butthurt in this thread

drmaryb.[*_*].

April 28th, 2012
3:34 pm

Rose goes down! Left knee ACL gone.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
3:37 pm

brigadierjerry

Why am I on a Hawks blog? Half the fun of being a sports fan is goofing on the opposing teams fans.

Would it “shock” me to see the Hawks win this series? Nothing would “shock” me…it might surprise me a little.

High-sider

April 28th, 2012
3:38 pm

Shamrock,

I know about Andrew Toney of the 76ers along with [Maurice] Cheeks, [Julius] Erving, Bobby Jones, Caldwell Jones, Darryl Dawkins, Clint Richardson, Earl Cureton, Steve Mix, etc. [I didn't remember Lionel Hollins, though; I was rather young back then ('80-'83).] Would you find it acceptable if I refer to Jamal Crawford as “Boston Strangler [Part] II [or III]“?

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 28th, 2012
3:38 pm

That ACL popped loose on the way up. Weak quads equals no explosion. Why was this guy playing hurt to begin with and, when the game was already won.

Do my cohorts still wanna’ see Horford walk through that door this season?

DawgNole

April 28th, 2012
3:39 pm

KevinM
April 28th, 2012
1:57 pm

And let me make a statement about being at Philips…..I have never been part of such a special time like that ‘07 run against the Celts. No one in that building was sitting down. That is going to be very hard to duplicate, but it is possible.
_____________________________

“. . . that ‘07 run . . . .” Wasn’t that run in ‘08?

DawgNole

April 28th, 2012
3:42 pm

drmaryb.[*_*].
April 28th, 2012
3:34 pm

Rose goes down! Left knee ACL gone.
_______________________

That’s a shame. He’s had the injury bug since that brilliant season in ‘10-’11..

The announcers acted just now like they didn’t know for sure how bad it was.

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 28th, 2012
3:42 pm

Well, we can check DRose and The Bulls off the list.
What more incentive do the HAWKS need, to finish off the old green people?

DawgNole

April 28th, 2012
3:43 pm

drmaryb.(*_*).
April 28th, 2012
3:38 pm

That ACL popped loose on the way up. Weak quads equals no explosion. Why was this guy playing hurt to begin with and, when the game was already won.
______________________

Good question.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
3:43 pm

A lot of depressed fans in Chicago right about now.

DawgNole

April 28th, 2012
3:46 pm

Just saw the clip on Rose. Doesn’t look good, the way it buckled.

DawgNole

April 28th, 2012
3:48 pm

I see ol’ Shamrock’s warming to the task, but where’s your help, man (other than GoCelts)? You’re gonna need ‘em.

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
3:50 pm

High-sider,

Don’t mind me; I also don’t believe they should be calling Pierce, Garnett and Allen the “Big Three”; to me, there is only one “Big Three” and that is Bird, Parish and McHale.

High-sider

April 28th, 2012
3:57 pm

Buddy Grizzard

April 28th, 2012
3:21 pm

Ivan Johnson is the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April.
———————————————————

Even Ivan Johnson earns an individual [NBA] award ahead of Marvin Williams. At least, Ivan Johnson can put that [April 2012 Rookie of the Month award] on his NBA achievement list and toward his “legacy.”

zgoldatl

April 28th, 2012
3:58 pm

See y’all at theHighlight Factory. I’m going with the same buddy I went with for games 3,4, & 6 in 2008. Looking forward to as few Celtics fans as possible. Let’s get it Hawks

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 28th, 2012
4:05 pm

“A lot of depressed fans in Chicago right about now.” -Sham!e-
_______

Boston fans will be next. Now that’s a sham-shame.

drmaryb.(*_*).

April 28th, 2012
4:14 pm

Just saw the replay on DRose injury. He planted the left foot and the outer knee bowed outward. Might be a LCL tear with a combo of medial meniscus tear. But, I’ll go with an ACL tear.

No point in x-raying that MOI, i would go straight to the hospital and get a CT-Scan on the knee,

NCBravesFan

April 28th, 2012
4:15 pm

Doc did the same thing a couple of years ago, did he not? Rested the starters down the stretch and traded regular season Ws for having a rested squad for the playoffs. And they ended up losing game 7 of the finals to the Lakers.

Can’t really fault him for that, or feel like it’s a slight against the Hawks … especially since this year’s team does not appear to be a strong as the ones of old.

Anyway, Go Hawks!