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
6:03 pm

Joe Piskepo – If you’re a sports fan and you hung around for the first decade of the new century you would have had a ball.

rob

April 28th, 2012
6:05 pm

Shamrock, you live in ATL?

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
6:06 pm

rob – no, MA.

dagger

April 28th, 2012
6:12 pm

Shamrock why are you here?

Source?

April 28th, 2012
6:16 pm

peggy kusinski ‏ @peggykusinski

Close Source close to #Bulls Derrick Rose says as of 5pm cst Rose has Not had an MRI to confirm any injury to his left knee #breakingnews

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
6:16 pm

New York just caught an old fashioned “Liberty City” beatdown in Miami.
So if Chitown loses this series and The Hawks win theirs, we get homecourt advantage in round two against the Sixer’s?

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
6:18 pm

Shamrock,

What part of MA do you live? i doubt Roxbury, probably Worcestor,Springfield

Source?

April 28th, 2012
6:23 pm

dagger
April 28th, 2012
6:12 pm

Shamrock why are you here?
__________________________

I live in Idaho, just come to feed the trolls.

dagger

April 28th, 2012
6:23 pm

“TMACfan – You mean I’m even cooler than all those dudes you meet on GayLove.com?”

Shamrock are you gay?

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
6:24 pm

brigadierjerry – Why do you doubt Roxbury?

Shamrock

April 28th, 2012
6:27 pm

dagger – Don’t get your hopes up.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

Multiple reliable people on Twitter confirming that Rose tore his ACL.

TMACfan

April 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

Yeah he prolly is.

Source?

April 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

Najeh Davenpoop
April 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

Multiple reliable people on Twitter confirming that Rose tore his ACL
___________________________________________________________

read this….

peggy kusinski ‏ @peggykusinski
Source close to #Bulls Derrick Rose says as of 5pm cst Rose has Not had an MRI to confirm any injury to his left knee #breakingnews

Big Lou

April 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn ACL.

If the Hawks beat the Celtics… they just got an easier route to the ECF.

Source?

April 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

Spoke too soon

peggy kusinski ‏ @peggykusinski
#Bulls now confirm torn ACL for Derrick Rose – he’s out for the rest of the playoffs & more

Source?

April 28th, 2012
6:31 pm

Big Lou
April 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn ACL.

If the Hawks beat the Celtics… they just got an easier route to the ECF.
_______________________________________________________________

Good luck with that

High-sider

April 28th, 2012
6:31 pm

“Man down, man up.” – Bill Laimbeer

Rick Kamla of NBA TV just reported Derrick Rose [is] out for the remainder of the playoffs [torn ACL].

Big Lou

April 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

Sheafer reported it during the draft. He’s usually spot on about these things.

Big Lou

April 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

Adam Shefter*

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
6:33 pm

I think Shumpert has a torn MCL as well. Bad day of Chicago guards. Wade may need to hide before someone sweeps his leg like the Karate Kid movie.

Hawks have a chance to make some noise this playoff series and get to ECF. Hate to see players get hurt.

Please any team win except this ass clown studio gangster heat team

shamrock, u hood?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
6:37 pm

Like I said earlier, the Hawks may never have had a better chance to get to the ECF than they do now. Gotta take care of business. The Bulls are still formidable without Rose, just like the Celtics are without Allen, but they definitely don’t have a talent advantage anymore. The Hawks will have the two best players in a Hawks-Bulls series.

TMACfan

April 28th, 2012
6:37 pm

Hawks fans, keep it classy.

Don’t go troll the Celtics blog like Shamrock.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
6:40 pm

Not to mention, the deeper they go in the playoffs, the better the chance that Al Horford gets healthy enough to play. If the Hawks go 7 against the Celtics and advance, they may get Horford back in time to battle the second unit big men on whom Chicago will rely even more without Rose.

High-sider

April 28th, 2012
6:42 pm

I guess all the Hawks’ haters will [now] say it looks like it’s going to be [a] Celtics-Heat ECF this postseason. LOL

jeppz23

April 28th, 2012
6:42 pm

sad to see a kid like drose go down at the most exciting time of the year..best wishes for his recovery

But like Najeh said, the hawks opportunity to get to the ECF imo has never been larger..if they take care of the celtics, there’s no excuse for not being able to handle Chicago w/o their best player

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
6:44 pm

CJ Watson seems to get injured quite a bit when he has to be “the man” also. I like CJ alot – but he does have the injury bug it seems.

Bad news about Shump if he does have a knee injury. Probably any chance the Knicks had just went out the window. Shump is a great athlete, and at least makes guys work on O.

Landry on DWade or LeBron? Not so much.

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
6:49 pm

I did like how LD a couple of articles ago was calling our top 3, JJ, Josh, and Jeff. Imagine that. Jeff goes from not finding the court and out of the rotation until Kirk is injured, to being top 3 for LD. Interesting.

Najeh – Agreed on a Bulls series if we make it – we have the top 2 players on the floor. But Josh has a difficult time with Boozer, and Deng gives Marvin fits.

That 4 Big rotation that the Bulls do is difficult for anybody to handle. And the jazz are doing the same thing. I think they give the Spurs a tough time.

dagger

April 28th, 2012
6:50 pm

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

Shamrock, so you’re not gay and you like to goof-off on the opposing team blog. So that makes you STRAIGHT GOOFER, huh? Since you’ve been on this blog over 4 hours, you must also be bored. That would make you a BORED STRAIGHT GOOFER.

In Georgia, another name for a BORED STRAIGHT GOOFER is a FOOL!!!

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
6:53 pm

Bulls vs Heat (which I hope doesn’t happen) – The Heat can’t stop Boozer, Noah, Asik, and Gibson with Bosh, Haslem, Turiaf, and Anthony. They just can’t. Even without Rose, I think the Bulls would give the Heat problems.

Gibson has been playing really good lately.

The Jazz with Jefferson, Millsap, Favors and sometimes Kanter have been beasting also. If Harris and Hayward can give them anything in the backcourt, they’re going to cause problems.

And I never count out a George Karl coached team for some reason. That guys good. If the Nuggets have some health, they may compete even when they shouldn’t. Bynum and Gasol should destroy them. But Karl is a very good Coach – always seems to come up with something.

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
6:57 pm

I don’t think Al will be battling any Bigs if he comes back. Off the pick jump shooter about it maybe.

And ya’ll know I’m one of Al’s biggest fans – but that’s just a fact

O'brien

April 28th, 2012
7:39 pm

3 more losses in a row (similar to what happened today), and the Hawks wont have the record for the most lopsided series loss in postseason history. Hawks were swept by an average of 25 ppg against Orlando. Knicks lost by 33 today.

Come on Woody. You can do it :twisted:

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
7:52 pm

WHOA!!! Joe Johnson said. “The main thing I want to do is try to bring a championship here to Atlanta. The city is well overdue. Why not give it a try?”

I have never heard that out anyone from this group – I like it.

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
7:55 pm

Yeah Obrien. WOODY! WOODY!! WOODY!!! Carmelo and company will turn on him in a New York minute.

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
8:17 pm

The Magic are putting up a bigger fight than any of us thought they would. They are up at the half against The Pacers.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
8:44 pm

Iman Shumpert also tore his ACL. What slim chance NY may have had of pulling an upset or even taking the Heat to 6 or 7 games just vanished. Without Shumpert, they have no perimeter defender to make Wade and LeBron work.

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
8:55 pm

Slim JR – where u at pimpin?

Grandad

April 28th, 2012
8:55 pm

Wdsn for COY

Sautee

April 28th, 2012
9:23 pm

Grandad does Samuel. LOL.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
9:35 pm

Wow, Indiana looks like sh-t in this game.

soullrenaissance

April 28th, 2012
9:39 pm

Magic pulled off the surprise of the day – I guess having playoff experience goes a long way.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
9:41 pm

In related news, this is the type of sh-t the Hawks absolutely cannot afford in Game 1. They have to come out and play well in the first game so that the crowd gets on their side. Can’t let the Celtics fans be heard.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
9:46 pm

Chris Duhon busted out the Daunte Culpepper dance after Granger traveled on that crunch time play.

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
10:07 pm

Called that Orlando game (kind of anyway) a few blogs ago – Just said I thought Orlando would play Indy tougher than people thought. Still had Indy winning the series however.

Big Baby is doing pretty good in the middle.

Jameer is still a proud vet, and still has some steam left.

J Richardson has some life left also.

And Duhon, QRich, JJ, Hedo, Anderson are ok pieces for what they do – no jealousy – everybody knows their role.

They can be dangerous. Ain’t gonna win much, no Championship threat i don’t think, but they may cause some problems. SVG may be ok in this situation.

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
10:21 pm

Jameer is probably better than Collison. Richardson may have some vet life and be as good as George. Hedo is long and may bother Granger. Same with Anderson and West (but was Ryan Anderson the result of a system or what? Not doing much since Dwight left that I’ve noticed).

And Baby can compete with Hibbert in the middle. Hibs always seems to run out of steam late in a season.

Baby, Jameer, and Hedo have Finals experience also.

David West may win this series for Indy if they win it.

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
10:29 pm

One thing this Hawks team has: Moxy

They got some guys with attitude in a good way. Teague jammin’ on folks. Ivan. ZaZa. Even Kirk can get an edge to him. Pargo is a gunner, so is Green. TMac has attitude.

I’m starting to feel this Hawks team. They may win this series. Maybe the next one also. JJ and Horford are just too nice to be all you got, along with Josh. And Jamal was skinny – he wasn’t scaring anybody. They may have needed this edge to kick some rear end if you know what I mean.

This team may give Miami a run for it’s money, you never know.

Maybe even Collins and Dampier can sumo wrestle Sean Williams, Stiemsa, and Hollins – get some attitude with them. They may even lay some hard fouls on Garnett.

Now if Marvin could get some attitude with Paul Pierce…

hbcuclassics

April 28th, 2012
10:30 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 Draft Update:

Christian Thompson, S, SC State – Baltimore
Ryan Davis, DE/OLB, Bethune – Jacksonville
Mario Louis, WR, Grambling – Houston
Marquette King, P, FVSU – Oakland
James Dekle, G, Prairie View – Arizona
Kevin Elliott, WR, FAMU – Jacksonville
Demario Pippen, RB,Tuskegee – Denver
LaMont Bryant, TE, Morgan St – Baltimore
Bryan Tymes, TE, FAMU – San Francisco
Jared Green, WR, Southern – Carolina
Donovan Robinson, DE, Jackson St – New York Jets
Adrian Hamilton, DE, Prairie View – Dallas
Antonio Dennard, CB, Langston – Jaguars
Paul Cox, WR, Mississippi Valley St – Chargers
Nicolas Cooper, RB, Winston Salem St – Packers

http://www.hbuclassics.com

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
10:35 pm

MC Tweet – “Joe Johnson on Philips Arena for #Celtics-#Hawks: “I know it’s going to be loud. I just hope it’s in our favor.”

Joe – I think it will be in our favor!!

SteveW

April 28th, 2012
10:37 pm

Dallas may show some attitude and pride with OKC also…

And i don’t look at the Clips as the favorite in their series with the Griz. Should be a great series. I never count Chris Paul out if he has any semblance of help at all.

brigadierjerry

April 28th, 2012
10:54 pm

SteveW,

If the Hawks get to the ECF and get to play the Heat, they will get no calls. Did you see what went on in the 2nd quarter against the Knicks today?Not saying Knicks was going to win todays game but there were about 4-5 plays 2 by flops by James and what was a 6pt game turned into a 20 point game in about 2 minutes. If the Knicks cant get calls you think the Hawks will if they play the Heat?That was disgusting that 2nd quarter took all the steam out of that game