Archive for April, 2010

Hawks show some resolve in win over Bucks

No need to look at the scoreboard to know who won. Al Horford and Josh Smith can tell you the playoff sereies is going back to Atlanta for a Game 7. (AP photo)

No need to look at the scoreboard to know who won. Al Horford and Josh Smith can tell you the playoff sereies is going back to Atlanta for a Game 7. (AP photo)

(UPDATED AT 10:58)

MILWAUKEE — One game after humiliation, one loss before elimination, in a game on the road, they showed us something. Not talent, but resolve. Not finesse, but determination.

Not the things that crush a team’s salary structure, just the things that crush opponents in the postseason.

Who knew?

“Now nobody expects us to do it,” the Hawks’ Jamal Crawford was saying before Friday’s playoff game against Milwaukee. “So maybe the pressure changes a little bit.”

It came off as a wonderful pre-game rationalization by a struggling player for a desperate team. But maybe he was right. After hanging with Milwaukee for one ugly half, the Hawks started to look again like the team that won 53 games during the regular season and the first two of these playoffs.

Playing as if somebody suddenly pulled needles out of a …

Continue reading Hawks show some resolve in win over Bucks »

We’re LIVE from Hawks-Bucks (and is this the end?)

Any thoughts on what the scoreboard will look like when it's over?

Any thoughts on what the scoreboard will look like when it's over?

MILWAUKEE — There are people with painted faces and antlers on their heads outside the Bradley Center. Inside, all of the seats are draped with souvenir red “Fear The Dear” towels. Just a hunch: It’s a going to be loud tonight.

“That would be something to break 20,000 hearts, wouldn’t it?” Jamal Crawford said, smiling.

That would be a change of pace for the Hawks: breaking the hearts of a road crowd.

Facing elimination and with the backdrop of a 1-10 road playoff record in the last three years,  the Hawks play game six against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Oddsmakers actually have the Hawks as two-point favorites. But after following a 2-0 series lead with three straight losses — including a meltdown in the final four minutes of game five at Philips Arena Wednesday — they don’t quite project as a safe investment.

“We know what we have to do, so we just need to relax and do it,” said Crawford, who has shot a …

Continue reading We’re LIVE from Hawks-Bucks (and is this the end?) »

Hawks down 3-2 but Skiles hardly looks satisfied

Scott Skiles' team is up 3-2 over the Hawks, but he's not assuming this series is over.

Scott Skiles' team is up 3-2 over the Hawks, but he's not assuming this series is over.

MILWAUKEE — Good day. I arrived in Josh Smith’s favorite restaurant town too late for the Hawks’ early morning shoot-around, but I was able to get behind enemy lines for Bucks’ practice.

Tonight’s game is a sellout. Fans here must be anticipating some kind of celebration or something.

While this should not at all be taken as a prediction, any thoughts that Milwaukee players are cocky or overconfident heading into tonight’s game six and potential elimination game for the Hawks were quickly doused. Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who has done as good a coaching job as anybody in the postseason, already knows what button to push. He believes his team was fortunate to win game five in Atlanta and can’t afford to get away with that kind of performance again.

“The reality is they outplayed us for 40-plus minutes in game five,” Skiles said. “We were down by nine with four minutes to go. We had a lot of …

Continue reading Hawks down 3-2 but Skiles hardly looks satisfied »

Poll time: Where would Hawks’ collapse rank in history?

The Hawks could be lining up for one of the worst playoff collapses in Atlanta history.

The Hawks could be lining up for one of the worst playoff collapses in Atlanta history.

If the Hawks win their next two games against Milwaukee, they can avoid two things: 1) Playoff extinction; 2) A special place in Atlanta pro sports’ infamy.

This hasn’t been Utopia, as you know. Atlanta has celebrated only one pro sports championship — the Braves’ World Series in 1995 (not counting obscure acronyms like NASL and IHL).

What ranks as Atlanta’s worst playoff collapse?

  • 1980 Falcons
  • 1987-88 Hawks
  • 1991 Braves
  • 1996 Braves
  • 1998 Braves
  • 2006-07 Thrashers
  • 2008 Falcons
  • 2009-10 Hawks (if this happens)

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

Pain? Oh, there’s plenty of that. It was difficult to choose. But I’m listing eight postseason collapses (including the Hawks’ current plight), with a synopsis of each. I’ve also included two polls, with a simple question: If the Hawks lose this series to the Bucks – be it tonight in Milwaukee or game seven back at Philips …

Continue reading Poll time: Where would Hawks’ collapse rank in history? »

Gearon is mum on Woodson but expects Hawks ‘to go far’

Mike Woodson has been the lesser of two coaches in the playoffs against Milwaukee.

The Hawks' Mike Woodson has been the lesser of two coaches in this playoff series against Milwaukee and his team is facing elimination. (AP photo)

You can tell a lot about a situation sometimes by the meetings.

Take Michael Gearon, for example. The Hawks’ owner had a five-minute, closed-door meeting with coach Mike Woodson at Philips Arena Thursday. Then he walked down a hallway and had a 30-minute meeting with general manager Rick Sund.

Gearon said he showed up after practice only for moral support, and that his meeting with Sund was about matters other than just basketball. But let’s be clear here. Mike Woodson is in trouble.

Even amid his supportive comments about the team and noncommittal remarks about Woodson’s future, Gearon said this: “It’s our third straight year in the playoffs and we expect to go far. I’m comfortable saying that.”

Sometimes it’s also what you don’t say that’s important. At no point did Gearon say, “Mike Woodson is my guy, regardless.”

With three …

Continue reading Gearon is mum on Woodson but expects Hawks ‘to go far’ »

Wren’s problem: He hasn’t earned benefit of doubt

Here's Troy Glaus looking at a called third strike Wednesday. So much for that experiment.

Here's Troy Glaus looking at a called third strike Wednesday night. He's hitting .203. So much for that experiment.

Frank Wren spent Wednesday at a high school game, coughing from pollen that triggers his allergies. That night, the Braves lost their eighth straight game in St. Louis, coughing from their apparent allergy — the other team.

They can’t hit long. They can’t hit short. Some nights they can’t field. Some nights they forget to tag up. Usually, they can pitch pretty well, although St. Louis hung 10 on them Thursday and there are some nights when Derek Lowe looks like he’s allergic to mounds.

When the Braves broke spring training, they looked like a possible playoff team. Now they have the second-worst record in baseball.

What is Wren doing about it? Nothing. Not trading. Not panicking. Not even twitching. Just waiting for the rain to wash away the pollen.

He will tell you the Braves have the advantage of time. But don’t even baseball time frames get shortened when a …

Continue reading Wren’s problem: He hasn’t earned benefit of doubt »

College playoff may be on agenda for new NCAA president

"If had a college football playoff, we could make this much." OK. Mark Emmert didn't really say that.

"If had a college football playoff, we could make this much." OK. Mark Emmert didn't really say that.

There is a new NCAA president, and his name is Mark Emmert. Unearthing what his priorities are might take a little more time.

But it is possible Emmert will be our shining light for a college football playoff.

Emmert’s predecessor, the late Myles Brand, made it no secret that his priority for college athletics was academic reform. While the NCAA made  financial decisions that indicated otherwise — continuing to sell out for TV contracts, approving 12-game seasons, etc. — at least Brand instituted the Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures a college program’s success in moving students toward graduation.

Emmert was very careful not to say what his priorities are. Among his comments: “I want to sit down with the membership and talk about what’s working and what’s not. … I don’t foresee revolutionary change in terms of academics issues, I see an evolutionary change as we go …

Continue reading College playoff may be on agenda for new NCAA president »

Sunshine time: Dancin’ Falcon; Wren’s move; D-Wade’s exit?

happy-sun-300x296The Hawks have lost two straight. The Braves have lost seven straight. I think it’s time to lighten things up a little, don’t you?

So here’s our first “Sunshine Blog” — three things to feel happy about!

1. A Falcons’ receiver has some moves! (Kinda, sorta.)

The Falcons need a strong second receiver behind Roddy White. I’m not sure if Ryan Wolfe is the answer but at least we know he can dance a little.

Wolfe, who was signed as an undrafted free agent this week, led UNLV in receiving last year with 74 receptions for 760 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he and a UNLV teammate appeared in this ESPN/Kenny Mayne comedy short with Justin Timberlake last October.

In the bit, Timberlake is teaching potential NFL players to brush up on their entertainment skills for teams’ traditional rookie shows in training camp. Wolfe is No. 88.


2. Frank Wren made the right on Javier Vazquez!

Life as a Yankee hasn't been good for Javier Vazquez.

Life as a Yankee hasn't been good for Javy Vazquez.

As many problems as the Braves have had, …

Continue reading Sunshine time: Dancin’ Falcon; Wren’s move; D-Wade’s exit? »

Hawks’ talent means nothing without heart, intelligence

xxx

When Carlos Delfino is celebrating, you know things aren't going well for Joe Johnson and the Hawks. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

When a decidedly more talented team suddenly loses consecutive games to an opponent that has less size, less skill and it was assumed less hope for postseason survival, there really are only two possibilities:

– The better team is not playing as hard as it should.

– The better team is not playing as smart as it should.

Everything else is window dressing.

For most of their first two playoff games against Milwaukee, the Hawks had us wondering how high their ceiling was. For the next two games, they reminded us where the floor is. It’s one thing to lose game three. It’s another to trail, 31-13, 10 minutes into the game. It’s one thing not to sweep the undermanned and Munchkin-like Bucks in the first round. It’s another to keep suffering brain cramps, go weak at the knees every time they walk into an opponent’s arena and lose twice.

Despite 53 wins, the …

Continue reading Hawks’ talent means nothing without heart, intelligence »

Report: Mike Woodson could leave Hawks for Sixers

One report has Mike Woodson coaching again next season -- but in Philadelphia. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

One report has Mike Woodson coaching again next season — but in Philadelphia. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Even before this season began, it was clear the year would be a referendum on coach Mike Woodson. He was entering the last season of a two-year deal (he wanted at least three) and every time he asked management for an extension, he was told, “We’re going to wait until after the season.”

Now that the Hawks are struggling with Milwaukee in the opening round of the playoffs, whether Woodson is re-signed/wants to stay is as big an issue as ever. In fact, some reasoned speculation now has him leaving on his own — to Philadelphia.

There is an increasing belief that Charlotte coach Larry Brown is finally ready to retire from coaching and return to Philly, where he still maintains a home, to become president of the Sixers. According to a story by Yahoo Sports, Brown already has his wish list: Washington Wizards executive Milt Newton would be his general manager. Woodson, his former …

Continue reading Report: Mike Woodson could leave Hawks for Sixers »