Hawks surviving despite an ordinary Joe

It seems like Joe Johnson has been fighting for control of the ball the entire playoffs.

Joe Johnson seemingly has been fighting for control of the ball the entire playoffs. (AP photo)

There he was before the playoffs, saying all the right things. He wanted to be viewed as an elite player. He wanted to be known as a difference-maker. He wanted to be the guy who stood out in a postseason series, not blend like flowers on wallpaper.

“Everybody wants to be the guy,” Joe Johnson said last week. “This is the time when the great players step up.”

It’s Game 5 of the NBA playoffs, and we’re still waiting for Joe Johnson to step up. The degree of his greatness remains up for debate.

The Hawks are even in their series with Miami at two wins apiece despite Johnson, not because of him. They’ve received great games from Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia and solid play from Mike Bibby.

But their captain and expected leading scorer has been relatively pedestrian.

Johnson is averaging 13.8 points. He has made only 37.9 percent of his field-goal attempts. He is 2-for-9 from three-point range and 9-for-17 from the free-throw line.

His assist-to-turnover ratio: so tilted the wrong way (10-to-15).

This is not what stars do. Not in the playoffs. Not even in November.

Johnson spent most of practice Tuesday getting treatment for an ankle sprain. When he emerged following a film session, he looked tired and irritated. The irritated part is probably a good thing. That anger-motivation-get-out-of-my-way-I’m-scoring-30-points domino effect would help right about now.

“It’s been a tough series,” he said. “But now that we’ve got home court back, maybe we can taken advantage of it.”

When asked if it has been a tough series for him personally, Johnson said: “Yeah, in some form or fashion. But, you know, we’ll be all right. I’ll pick my play up. I’ll get it together.”

He needs to. Because the current 2-2 count not withstanding, the chance of the Hawks winning this series with Johnson averaging less than 14 points seem slim.

Coach Mike Woodson told our Chris Vivlamore on Tuesday: “The thing is, we’ve been able to sustain with him being mediocre. To me, that’s great.”

The problem is, players who get five-year, $70 million contracts shouldn’t require a safety net, not so often and certainly not in April. Players who get five-year, $70 million contracts do so because they’re supposed to be special.

Team officials often point to Game 4 against Boston in last year’s playoffs, when he scored 35 points, as an almost staple of Johnson’s postseasons. But that night has been more of an aberration than the norm.

In seven playoff games since, Johnson has scored 21, 15, 16, 15, 16, 10 and 14, shooting 37.4 percent (37-of-99). It doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. Fact is, he’s a very good one who sometimes has great games. But elite players are great when it matters most.

Hawks general manager Rick Sund credited Miami’s defense but said Johnson has responded well to the double-teams, saying, “He has swung the ball when he’s needed to, and he’s made some big shots. Great players respond to a defensive scheme, and Joe’s done that.”

As for the lack of scoring, Sund added: “He’ll have a game where things fall his way.”

Johnson also referenced double-teams, off pick-and-rolls and in the post. He said, “I’ve just got to pick my spots a little better. I’ll be all right.”

Saying the right things hasn’t been the problem.

128 comments Add your comment

The Hawksta

April 28th, 2009
6:44 pm

Great article! Joe needs to step it up in the worst way. I guess if teams didn’t double him and let him go one on one like we do D Wade things would be different. But he’s the star and stars require special treatment. Get out there and be a damn Superstar Joe!

willie

April 28th, 2009
8:09 pm

If they are going to roll double coverage to Joe, he needs to continue to pass the ball. There are only a few guys in the league that should still try to score when double-teamed. He has to trust his teammates to make the shots when he passes out of it. And a message for Josh…we love ya kid, but there is a reason you are wide open for all of those jumpers….GO TO THE RACK!

eturn

April 28th, 2009
8:17 pm

Just like C. Barkley said the other night. Joe Johnson is not a elite or great player. He just a good player. I agree. The Hawks need a star and are trying to make Joe a star. But in imo there are a lot of other average players lot better than Joe.

DrewCat

April 28th, 2009
8:23 pm

Sekou I’m so glad that you chose to go where few journalists will go. Joe Johnson is our star player, and he’s playing like a struggling role player. I think Woody makes a good point, however that The Hawks are still in this series despite Joe’s ineffectiveness. Josh Smith is really emerging as an intense player, and it is evident that ZaZa is a force off the bench.
Joe just seems too passive in his approach. He doesn’t have that takeover ability, and his ability to rise to the occasion on the “big stage” is questionable at best. Joe’s gottta show that he can be that guy. If he contributes how he’s expected to, this series will be done in six.

bottomline

April 28th, 2009
8:29 pm

He is a very good player. He is NOT a very SPECIAL player. Boston has Paul Pierce and KG (well not at the moment), Cleveland has LeBron, Miami has Wade, LA has Kobe, and the list of GREATNESS goes on. Until the Hawks acquire a SPECIAL player (Chris Paul wherefore art thou?) they will be no better than 4th in the East. We’re a good team that is still young, but we will be a good team that is old eventually unless we find that special, GREAT player.

bottomline

April 28th, 2009
8:30 pm

And for the love of God, would someone PLEASE tell Josh Smith that he SUCKS from outside! I am not a Woodson fan, but I sympathize with him having to deal with this hard headed talented player who is NOT a COMPLETE player. I can accept that…I wish HE could!

Cliff Levingston

April 28th, 2009
8:38 pm

Joe Johnson is playing scared. He had it rolling for the first quarter of game 1 and since then he’s literally looked sick.

I could do much better and I’m in my mid 40s and always sucked to start with.

Truth-serum

April 28th, 2009
8:57 pm

Truth-serum

April 28th, 2009
12:25 pm
Like ive always said, you cant became a finalist in the NBA without a Bonefied center. Za played a career game and I will acknowledge that, as ive always been very critical of him. If he could CONSISTANTLY DO THAT,rebound and intimidate and KEEP HIS TURNOVERS DOWN AND HE MUST FINISH IN THE LOW POST, NOT TURN OVER, then perhaps we could raise a flag in the atlanta.
GOOD GAME Z, STEP YOUR GAME UP AND WE WILL BECOME AN ELITE TEAM. WITHOUT A CENTER THE HAWKS ARE GOOD BUT NOT GREAT. IF Z STEPS UP THEN WE CAN GO BIG OR QUICK AND WOODSON HAS MORE OPTIONS!

TOAST TO FLIP,WOODSON,JJ, JOSH AND HORFORD- DO US PROUD GUYS.
THE DAY BELONGS TO WOODSON AND Z CONGRATS GUYS!

bottomline

April 28th, 2009
9:05 pm

Truth serum…something is IN your serum! Who is Cleveland’s BONAFIDE center? Hmmmm? Think they are not a serious contender? Who is Boston’s BONAFIDE center? KG is a 4…NOT a center. Who is LA’a BONAFIDE center? Yeah…you don’t HAVE to have a center…You HAVE to HAVE a SUPERSTAR!

Jeff Schultz

April 28th, 2009
9:25 pm

Willie: I hear ya on Josh’s jumpers. Everybody hears ya. Well, everyone but Josh.

Eturn: I wasn’t aware Barkley said that. But he does speak his mind, so I’m not surprised.

Drewcat: Sekou and I do look a lot alike, but . . .

Bottomline: I hear ya, too, just like Willie.

RA

April 28th, 2009
9:43 pm

Well Cliff you’re half right, but at least you were able to ride Jordan’s coatails to an NBA title or two. Listen, you folks need to back up off Joe Johnson, because I got news for you, durring the early years of this teams renaissance (that word means rebirth Cliff, try to keep up) Joe Johson was the ONLY thing going for this team. When Marvin Williams was too green and Josh Smith was too young and stupid. Before Mike Bibby. When Tyron Lue and Anthony Johsnon were trying to patrol the lane in their walkers, Joe Johnson was this franchise. He carried this team through the lean years when he was the only player on it that at some point or another didn’t make you want to put a paper bag over your head. He hasn’t had that great of a year, but I’ll tell you what, for part of that year, he’s been sick, and for the rest of it, he’s probably been battling problem and injuries that we don’t even know about. It reminds me of Tommy Glavin back in 1992. Everybody wondered, “what’s wrong with Glav, what’s wrong with Glav?” Well, after the season, those of us that cared enough to listen found out that he’d been playing with cracked ribs for the last few months of the season. You don’t know, maybe he’s tired. God knows if any of you had been running into double and triple teams for an entire year, your gas tank might be a little empty too. Oh, I’m sorry Cliff, I forgot, you never commanded a double or triple team. Well, maybe you can ask someone special enough to warrant one how it feels one day. You might want to start with Joe Johnson, after you apologize. Oh, I remember you Cliff, very well. You were a nice player, even decent one, but all you had was a roll, and there was NOTHING special about you, and while you played with truly great players like Dominique and Michael, you were never one of them and until you understand the pressure that comes with that level of expectation, I suggest you stay quiet, or just find a rocking chair and root for the Heat. Either way, I speak for all REAL Hawks fans when I say that I’m glad that Joe is captain of the Atlanta Hawks and he’s a much more special player than you ever were.

Speaking of special players, uhm bottomline, you need to remember something about Kobe, LeBrone, and Paul Pierce. Yes, they are great players, but they play on teams that have been deep into the playoffs, with veterans that have fought the wars. The Hawks have good players, but they can either play up big or disappear altogether. Other teams take their chances on everyone else, but they focus in on Joe each and every night. Try that with LeBron and Ilgauskas could have a big night or Joe Smith or Mo Williams, the list on that team goes on. Oh, why don’t you throw a triple team on Kobe. Darn that’s right, you’d have Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Bynum, and a cast of thousands to hand you your backside. Oh, and bottomline, the last time I checked, your precious Chris Paul, he and the Hornets were hanging on for dear life because the Denver Nuggets are taking them out behind the woodshed and giving them the business. Oh, and if you do find Chris Paul, you might want to help him find his backside because over the last few games it’s been ripped out of the fram.

Lastly, Jeff Schultz. I’ll be honest with you. I do believe that there’s greatness in Joe Johnson, and it frustrates me that we don’t see it more, particularly at times like this, but I have NEVER questioned his heart or desire or work ethic. He might not be great, but there’s no question in my mind that he’s doing the best he can. What about you, what are you doing? There were so many good stories from last night. Za Za grabbing eighteen rebounds, Bibby willing the Hawks over the hump, Josh Smith jumping into the rafters to get a game changing rebound. And if you HAD to write about Joe Johnson, why couldn’t you write about the way that he was out there playing on a bum wheel the entire fourth quarter. Can you put aside being the cynic for a few brief seconds and be fan enough to rally this city behind a team that bled and sweat for it all year, never more than in this series? You’re a capable writer with many positive atributes, but I think that it was despicable of you to write this article, particularly now.

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love this team, and Joe Johnson has my confidence. That’s my opinion. No one else need adhere.

HAWKS FAN

April 28th, 2009
9:52 pm

Yea Barkley does speak his mind…but thats not fair how he judges JJ based off a couple of games. He always bashes the Hawks so im sure he didnt watch many Hawks games this season so he’s just suming up JJ’s game off a couple games WTF!!! But this is what happens when you have your best player averging just about 40 mins a night so im not surprised that he dosent have anything left in the tank. Willie i agree that Josh needs to stop taking those jumpers and stick to what he is best at which is driving so hang in there Hawks!!!!!

DrewCat

April 28th, 2009
9:55 pm

Lol sorry Schultz! Great article though, LETS GO HAWKS!

STATS, LLC

April 28th, 2009
9:55 pm

FACT: John Smith leads the NBA in 45-footer attempts…and whining.

RA

April 28th, 2009
10:02 pm

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt 1910

Woodhead

April 28th, 2009
10:16 pm

Joe leads the league in minutes played, and he plays hard minutes. Who guards the best player on the opposing team? JJ! What offensive “play” do the Hawks seem to run every single time? Isolation-Joe!! Blame it on Woody, not Joe, who doesn’t make excuses or blame. He’s not Lebron, but when he’s fresh and not carrying the team on both ends of the floor by himself, he is a very special player.

cwm

April 28th, 2009
10:20 pm

I was in miami for the game and joe stepped up when we needed the big shot LETS GO HAWKS SHOW OUR WHITE TEEES

calico

April 28th, 2009
10:27 pm

I see people still talking about Josh but Josh has outplayed Joe even with the ill advised shots just think where we would be if Josh was playing as bad as Joe- Joe has to step up simple and plain.

HAWKS FAN

April 28th, 2009
10:34 pm

I agree that josh has outplayed joe but at the same time his role is not as big as joe’s. Josh’s role is to play defense, rebound, and drive. joe has to do basically just about everything. Im not making excuses for joe because he does need to step up but you have to understand that he has a huge load on him to put up many points.

JJ Backer

April 28th, 2009
10:55 pm

bottomline -

CP3 where for art thou? His team is in the process of losing 4 games to 1.
His team just got beat by 58 at home in a playoff game.
In a game that could have evened up the series (and again, at home) – dude shot 2 of 7, finished with 4 points, 6 assists and 6 turnovers.

Let’s not drop his name right about now, huh?

HAWKS FAN

April 28th, 2009
10:59 pm

Yea saw those hightlights on sportscenter and CP3 should feel embarassed for himself and his team but he’s human so he’s gonna have an off night here and there (he just chose the wrong night to have it) lol

Dan

April 28th, 2009
11:15 pm

I think we are getting a little carried away with this “Joe Johnson is not an elite player” BS. Who are the elite players? Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and…..Tony Parker,maybe? There are not that many elite players out there. Joe Johnson is an All Star and he has been the main reason why the Hawks have risen so far the last few years. We would not be looking forward to a game 5 tomorrow with out him. So, let’s lay off him a little bit.

He playes a smart game yesterday. He never forced a shot, set his teammates up with good looks, and played good D. He has played better, I agree, but this idea that he has choked or fallen apart is just a load of crap.

I know the local writers do not know hoops well (not counting Sekou Smith), but I expected more from the fans.

bottomline

April 28th, 2009
11:27 pm

I agree CP3 has disappeared in this series…..anybody here would not RATHER have him on this roster than Marvin? Hmmmm….anyone???

Flappin' Hawk

April 28th, 2009
11:51 pm

Dan – Your on the money.
JJ is not an elite player and never will be, but I love the guy because he is a great and humble player. Like Dan said, there are only a handfull of “elite” players out there. So crying about not having one or saying we need to go out and get one is a waste of time. You don’t just go out and get one. If you don’t have an elite player the only way to go far in the playoffs is with a strong defense and great roll players, i.e. the Pistons until the last 2 years. The Hawks are a servicable center and a driving guard away from what they need.
JJ is hobbled by a bad ankle, so he’s struggling. But you won’t see him cry about it like Wade and his dramatics. JJ will never be an elite player. He will always be just below that level and that’s still pretty dam* good. I mean the guy made the Olympic Team.
Let’s put Miami out of their misery and move on to the Cavs so we can all start complaining about Lebron touch fouls.

J.J.M.

April 29th, 2009
1:34 am

bottomline you sound like charles barkley

Rick Sund

April 29th, 2009
2:25 am

I hope you all like my opinion in the article. I know what I am talking about because I have been in the league for 30 years.

J. Carter

April 29th, 2009
5:03 am

Don’t forget that Joe Johnson leads the league in minutes played, so he’s got to be tired now. Woodson needs to find a way to ease his workload. I don’t know what you guys consider as elite, but JJ has the potential to be a Top 10 player. He’s got the toughness, the athletic ability and the drive. For now, though, there’s still about 4 other players on the team that I’d want shooting the ball instead of Joe when the game’s on the line.

Just A Fan

April 29th, 2009
6:24 am

Joe is hesitant on his moves. He seems to be thinking too much into his shots. He needs to start simple and start from there. His rolodex is stacked but he’s so determined he’s thinking too much into it. He needs to settle down and let the game come to him. He will prevail…

I didn’t buy the only Joe Johnson authentic home hawks jersey at the nba store in NYC for nothing!!!!!

Let’s get together and do it boys….

GO HAWKS

TJB

April 29th, 2009
7:12 am

What Barkley said was that he wasn’t an elite player because he couldn’t shoot. He said he should be in the gym shooting 200-300 (he might have said 2000-3000) jump shots every day

ATL_LOVE

April 29th, 2009
7:33 am

Man I love and support Joe as much as the next Hawks fan but SERIOUSLY THIS IS AN ALARMING TREND not an exception:

“In seven playoff games since, Johnson has scored 21, 15, 16, 15, 16, 10 and 14, shooting 37.4 percent (37-of-99).”

If it’s rest or an injury, that needs to be fixed but we cannot continue to have our leader put up those kinds of numbers ON A REGULAR BASIS and be successful.

Love for the guy aside, you’re fooling yourselves if you want to make excuses for that! Go Hawks.

SwATLBlackGuy

April 29th, 2009
7:33 am

none of this would be said if Joe was a white man.

smartguy

April 29th, 2009
8:17 am

SwATL, you’re right, if JJ was white he wouldn’t even be in the league.

I would trade him, and FIRE WOODY.

Dr. Warren

April 29th, 2009
8:23 am

If one superstar (Wade) doesn’t end it for them, keep in mind the next is coming like an oncoming train. (Lebron). Johnson is no Wade or Lebron. Hell, he’s not even Tony Parker. Not even close.
When are we gonna get a bonafide SUPERSTAR in Atlanta? Dominique was the last one, and Maravich the only one before him.

Westurd

April 29th, 2009
8:26 am

RA, well said above in reference to JJ, Hawks Fans, and the love for the HAWKS. I agree 100% with all of it glad it was already written so I didn’t have to jump on it. As a HAWKS fan I want to see another big game by the team and not so much one player (Unless its a bunch of J. Smoove highlights half court alley opps)

-SEE YOU TONIGHT IN PHILLIPS-

Westurd

April 29th, 2009
8:28 am

With Marvin sidelined during this round is anyone starting to realize he is more and more expendable…….Is Joe too?

WR

April 29th, 2009
8:32 am

SwATLBlackGuy, it doesn’t matter if Joe is black or White a captain is supposed to lead, if he is the hawks so called captain he should be leading and he’s not plain and simple, but on second thought maybe he is leading, leading the hawks right out of the playoffs. Dirk is considered the leader of his team and he’s a white guy, he layed back in the bushes while Dallas built a 3 to 1 series lead over the Spurs they didn’t need him to build that lead. With their backs against the wall the Spurs came alive in hopes of keeping the series going so guess what Dallas needed, its Superstar to come alive and if you watched the game the Superstar delivered. Same principle for Joe, the Hawks are now good enough to stay in games, but they don’t have a true streak buster, clutch preformer, or the one guy who delivers when all else is failing. When a superstars shots are not falling he takes the ball to the rim and piles up free-throws, not Joe, when teams go on scoring runs a superstar puts an end to it, not Joe,when the team is hanging their heads a superstar raises his higher, not Joe, when a team’s youth causes alot of confusion and adversity a superstar puts the team on his back and leads, not Joe. In conclusion here is a perfect example of the difference between a superstar or captain and Joe Johnson, after Miami lost game one reporters interviewing Dwayne Wade asked was the lost due to the youth on his team, Wade responded its my fought, these guys needed me to be more vocal and I wasn’t, but we will get that corrected, as you can see they did. Joe’s response to similar questions is always we’re young, we have alot of young guys on our team, our youth is causing alot of the break downs, well that youth has been playing well but I ask where is Joe Johnson the captain of the youth. In the words of Micheal Jackson “it doesn’t matter if your black or white” and heres a little something I got from my departed grandfather over 15 years ago which applies to Joe now “he’s letting his mouth write checks his a$$ can’t cash”.

WR

April 29th, 2009
8:33 am

Smartguy, just noticed your post, GOOD ONE

Terrell

April 29th, 2009
8:56 am

Do you know what’s so funny? Chirs Paul, as someone just said, is a “great player” but his team is down 3-1. Guess being a great player is not good enough. SWAtlBlackGuy, considering most of the players in the league are black you point is invalid. I do believe this is a sign of fatigue from JJ however. JJ played the second most minutes in the regular season while missing 3 games. He’s logged in more minutes than Lebron, Chris, Paul, D-Wade, Bryant: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/statistics?stat=nbaminutes&qual=true&sort=mins&league=nba&split=0&season=2009&seasontype=2&avg=none&pos=all

Terrell

April 29th, 2009
9:09 am

Oh WR, I respect what your late grandfather, bless his soul, old saying was, but Joe Johnson doesn’t talk so how can his mouth write a check his butt can’t cash?

Chris

April 29th, 2009
9:09 am

I don’t know if I am remembering this correctly, but it seems that when Joe was out for several games, Marvin was scoring something like 20 ppg. The ball seems to move better when Joe isn’t in there. He is an all star, not a superstar.
Another question – who was the better pick from the Florida national championship team? Early on it seemed to be Horford, but Noah looks pretty good out there.

DP

April 29th, 2009
9:09 am

I think part of Joe’s problem is that he’s constantly being forced to create his own shot because Bibby is so slow and can’t create offensively. So Joe ends up with the ball while Bibby is spotting up for open 3’s. Joe is showing that he is not a Wade or LeBron or Kobe who can create and make his own shot while also setting up others.

I think we need to accept what Joe is and try to find a quick, penetrating point guard to replace Bibby so Joe can work off the ball more.

mark

April 29th, 2009
9:13 am

all the things people are complaining about josh shooting long jumpers not taking the ball to the rack more. jj not stepping up like a superstar should. look at the offense the hawks run my wife said why do they keep number 5 so far away from the basket, when he is so good at driving the b. ball ask the coach. ask the coach why does he play jj 40 mins a nite during the reg. season and some of those compaints you take back. the hawks are where they in spite of mw, not because of him. put your players in the position where they can do good. watch carefully tonight and tell me where josh is line up in the offense, three point area.

Truth-serum

April 29th, 2009
9:20 am

bottomline

April 28th, 2009
9:05 pm

You really don’t understand basketball, I appreciate you.
You must have just started watching in the last few years or you would understand.

Cleveland does have a decent center, but just to help you get steered in the right direction, I must ask you, when did Cleveland become a final titlist?

If a team who is weak at the five spot, managed by a rare miracle to get to the championship round they would not win.
I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule. I’m sure somewhere at sometime by some miracle some team won something with out a center
.
But with me and other learned basketballers….let’s just keep it real.

WR

April 29th, 2009
9:27 am

Terrell, I somewhat agree with your assessment pertaining to fatigue, but Joe has had these same problems since hs’s been here whether dealing with fatigue or not. As much as I like Joe he lacks a killer instinct. Sadly to say thats just how it is for some players, Lamar Odom is the same type of player. He could be a superstar and the leader of a team, but thats not what he wants, so it works out really well for the lakers because they get a 6′10 freak of nature who can play every position on the floor and he is completely happy with filling up the stat sheets while doing the dirty work, you have to have those kind of players, but in order to win a championship you have to have at least one player who just plain out puts a team on his back if things are not going well. Magic,Bird,Erving,ONeal,Russell,Chamberlain,Jordan,Pierce,Garnett,Bryant,James, just to name a few. I think most people agree Joe is a good player, we just want to see some fire in his eyes every now and then, I mean have you seen this guy in person, he’s built like a tank so I know he can go in the post on top of that he can shoot, the guy should be unstoppable but he has to decide thats what he wants to be.

AtlSouthside

April 29th, 2009
9:29 am

The same thing that’s happening to Joe, happened to LT (from the Chargers). Joe damn near led the league in minutes played, so I’m quite sure he’s banged up… But of course he gets no compassion from the media (even the local media). Of course I wanna see Joe put up 25 every game, but its not realistic.. Especially when teams are double-teaming him, and there is not really another scoring threat on the Hawks roster…

If Josh would drive the ball more often, that would free-up Joe and force teams to play one-on-one… I don’t understand why Josh and Woody don’t get it… Drive the ball damn ball!

WR

April 29th, 2009
9:31 am

Terrell just noticed your post, I was referring to Joe saying he was going to step up for this playoff series, I know the comment seems a little blunt and I didn’t mean for it to sound so harsh but its a statement I carry with me everyday as a reminder of getting yourself in over your head, or not being able to back up what you say.

Truth-serum

April 29th, 2009
9:32 am

April 28th, 2009
9:05 pm

The hornets have a superstar, Chris Paul, but were crushed defensively by Denver. The hornets don’t have a good center.

When Z had a career day of 18 rebounds and actually intimidated opponents in the low post, the Hawks won a playoff game on the road for the first time in modern history. Do the math!

Yes, Schultz, I too would like to see JJ step his game up consistently. We now agree on two things: The hawk’s need a center, JJ needs to step his game up. I will add that if Z can play at the level he played Monday then problem solved. He may even get his starting job back.

Shout out to the Snowman!! You boy Z is the last games Hero. Good job. I’m missing your writings…..

O'brien

April 29th, 2009
9:49 am

There’s no excuse for missing his free throws, but there are 4 reasons why JJ is struggling.

1) Miami’s defensive scheme against him
2) No offensive system to get him easy shots
3) Not enough ball movement by the Hawks
4) Joe Johnson

We need to win tonight’s game, and this would be a great time for Joe to be Joe.

WR

April 29th, 2009
9:51 am

Now to get off Joe for a bit, could someone please send Josh a little note saying “state away from the 3 point line it is even, its your krytonite. For as much as we get on Joe, if Josh would just hang out on the block he would be unstoppable, I mean no one can guard this guy on the low block and we all know he doesn’t mind putting up a shot.

All I'm Saying Is...

April 29th, 2009
9:53 am

Joe Johnson is our best player and that’s why he is constantly double-teamed by the opposing club. The Celtics learned this the hard way (see Game 4 last year’s playoffs) and after that they always doubled Joe to force the ball out of Joe’s hands. Now if Joe tried to force his shot despite the double team, then all you bloggers would call him a selfish player.

Woodhead is right: the problem is Woody as he calls for the same isolation for Joe every time. The isolation worked to perfection in Game 4 of last year’s playoffs but the Celtics adjusted…and so has the rest of the league. Because of the make-up of our players — we do not have a dribble-drive/slash-and pass point guard in Bibby as he does not have a quick first step and can’t penetrate into the lane, Josh Smith is too inconsistent for the other team to worry about, Marvin is either not on the floor enough or out on the wing shooting 3s (which is fine), and Al is still developing a consistent low post game — whoever we play knows that it is all about one thing: don’t let Joe Johnson get going.

So what should we do? Get more out of our other starters. In the short-term, 1) Marvin needs to get his behind on the floor and play through the pain. 2) We need to run some set plays for Al Horford early to draw attention his way. 3) If Josh Smith elects to take a three instead of driving to the basket then we need to immediately take him out of the game, tell him why, and tell him that when he goes back in that if he does it again, then we will take him out of the game again. (Anybody who is a parent knows that the only way to correct bad behavior is to consistently apply punishment (with an explanation) as soon as it happens—its called consequences). With NBA players, playing time or the lack of it is the only thing that gets through to them.

In the offseason, I say we sit Joe and Al down and show them hours of film of Stockton and Malone and we tell them to do what they did. Next, we need to get an uptempo back-up point guard who can run the floor like Spud Webb did back in the day when he backed-up Doc Rivers. That change of pace throws off the other team and gives the Hawks more options (are you reading this Rick Sund?).

Joe Johnson is our guy and he is an outstanding player. The list of elite players in the NBA is a short one (Kobe and LeBron) and the fact is that those guys didn’t win in the playoffs until they got some help from the other starters who consistently played well to take some pressure off of them: Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher do that for Kobe. Mo Williams and Ilglauskas do that for LeBron. The key word is consistently play well to command attention. Right now, Josh does not do that, Bibby does not do that, Marvin does not do that, and neither does Al (though he is getting there).