Hawks’ constant Sybil act reaffirms changes are needed

There were too many times on the court in Game 3 when the Hawks looked about this interested.

There were too many times in the game when this reflected the Hawks' interest level.

Welcome back to the tin-foil hat brigade. Hawks players don’t just show up for games — they wait for signals from their home planet (where unicorns and perfect Billy Knight-drafted point guards frolic in the fields).

Shouldn’t they be past this by now?

“I thought we were,” Jamal Crawford said. “But I thought we were past it before Game 5 [in Orlando], also.”

He speculated it was part of the “growth process.” It would be a wonderful theory, except for that there are 3,000-year-old giant sequoia trees in California with shorter growth processes than the Hawks.

At some point, you come to the realization that certain teams don’t grow, they just forever mutate into a new, unexpected and possibly really ugly life form.

The Hawks resume their playoff series against Chicago on Sunday night. They could win by 10 or lose by 30. There’s something wrong with that. Just when you allowed yourself to think that the first-round series win over Orlando — despite a 25-point loss in Game 5 — was a sign of some long-awaited maturity, they came out Friday night against the Bulls looking like catatonic wildebeests.

A coach should not have to feel the need to call timeout only 49 seconds into any game, let alone a playoff game … at home.

Crawford again: “That’s never good.” (On this theory, we agree.)

Whenever this playoff run ends for the Hawks, and it could be soon, change is needed.

Joe Johnson is asked to lead. He comes up big in Game 1 against Chicago with 34 points. Then he fades to 16 in Game 2 and 10 in Game 3. Afterward, he complains about the offensive game plan. Says he is “buried in the corner” on pick-and-rolls. Says this: “Honestly, I’ve just got to force the issue. … Coach wants me to give up the ball at times, but I can’t give it up every time.”

On Saturday, when the media was allowed into the locker room, Johnson already was long gone. It officially extended his streak of disappearances.

There are things about this team that can’t be fixed without trades. We’re past the point of film study and psychotherapy. Josh Smith is asked, implored, begged, to stick to his strengths and not fire up jump shots. He cooperates for all of a quarter.

Question: Does Smith even realize he is 0-for-17 from beyond 15 feet in this series, and 5-for-33 in the playoffs? Conversely, he is shooting 60 percent from nine feet and closer (38-of-63). The lesson there should be easy to locate.

Most seem to believe the Hawks lost Game 3 99-82 because Derrick Rose scored 44 points. Suddenly, everybody forgot the Hawks beat Orlando in a playoff game when Dwight Howard scored 46.

The Hawks are asked to do a few simple things: defend, rebound and give some semblance of an effort. They went 0-for-3 in the last game. Chicago aced all three. There’s the game.

Coach Larry Drew was asked Saturday if he ever has been a part of such schizophrenic team as a player or coach. He smiled.

“I will admit — I do have an interesting group,” he said.

Everybody laughed. It was as if Sybil had just been described as having an interesting personality.

“What happened [Friday] night, it did catch me off guard,” Drew continued. “I really thought we would start that game too energized. I was expecting a lot of early turnovers. I thought we would be too hyped and have too much energy. I thought I would have to find a way to tone my guys down.”

There are only so many times a coach should have to threaten to use a cattle prod. Concepts such as competitive instincts, professional pride and even the motivation generally associated with earning a seven- or eight-digit salary should take over.

But too often with the Hawks, that’s not the case. Something is missing in their DNA. And they are way past their growth spurt.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

175 comments Add your comment

NAthan d

May 7th, 2011
4:10 pm

Nathan D

May 7th, 2011
4:14 pm

Great point at Josh Smith! This why we need to trade him for a center, Bynum or Bogut. Put Al at the 4 and put marvin on the bench or trade him and smith for bynum teegue and Sy both look good. next year have Teague at the one hinrich 2, joe 3, al 4, bynum 5, pachulia crawford and Sy on the bench.

NAthan d

May 7th, 2011
4:16 pm

Bynum wants the ball and is being more of a leader than before and get a good 2rnd pick!

JIm

May 7th, 2011
4:16 pm

I agree – little leagers get paid nothing – but they leave it on the field and play to win every game.

Ryan

May 7th, 2011
4:25 pm

I used to say trade Josh…but now I’m leaning to keeping Josh and trading Al. Al has gone soft and been near useless. Its sad. What happened to the brawler Al that would go for lose balls and rebound and work? Im so dissapointed with Al. Atleast Josh showed up for game 3 besides the dumb shots. Trade Al and Hinrich for a center. If Al doesnt want to be a center, lets go get one.

Ryan

May 7th, 2011
4:26 pm

Oh yeah, Teague haters, where you at? I’ve been a Teague fan all year and now he is showing up. Point guard of the future.

The Real Hawk

May 7th, 2011
4:28 pm

Got to agree on this one.

Charlie

May 7th, 2011
4:32 pm

Don’t offend schizophrenics by comparing the Hawks to people with a very serious brain disorder. By the way, schizophrenia is NOT the same as multiple personality disorder. Your analogy with Sybil (16 or 17 personalities) is faulty. Get a book on Abnormal Psychology and learn the difference. It might even make you sound more educated.

The Real Hawk

May 7th, 2011
4:33 pm

Nathan D-When I see stuff like this I wonder if you’re talking about soccer.
Hinrich is not a shooting guard. Joe is not a small forward. He’s too soft.
Why would the Lakers trade Bynum? To help us out?
We’re all frustrated but throwing things at the wall to see what sticks will not
a winning team make..

Duck

May 7th, 2011
4:35 pm

If Josh Smith shoots one more shot from outside, LD needs to suspend him for the rest of the playoffs. I am so tired of him just standing just inside the 3 point line. He needs to stand around near the blocks.

The Real Hawk

May 7th, 2011
4:35 pm

Trade AL?
The best player and heart of the team?
Yeah, that’s the answer.
He’s playing against Noah who knows him from FLA.
Tough to beat. But no!

The Real Hawk

May 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

Duck

May 7th, 2011
4:38 pm

Noah is just a maniac on the court. He is really affecting Al’s shooting.

David

May 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

I said it before and I’ll say it again:

This the most dysfunctional yet fully operational basketball team I’ve ever seen….

Sage of Bluesland

May 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

For some reason, Al Horford always escapes criticism. It’s funny, every time I watch this team, I walk away wholly unimpressed with him.

Trade them all, if you can, and rebuild properly the next time…hopefully…

richie

May 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

i say the hawks clean house and rebuild around teague AL,and Joe. Josh does nothing but hurt our team with his jump shots. THis isnt a YMCA league where u can shoot the lights out and no one care that you miss! its the NBA playoffs for Gods sake. Get rid of Josh and get a real center in here that will crash the boards and play defense.

STRETCH

May 7th, 2011
4:46 pm

I STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW JOSH SMITH STILL PLAYS??? Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Avery, Byron Scott, Popovich, and Scott Skiles, these are the kinda coaches Josh wouldnt be able to play for, cause they would sit his A@@ down on the other end of the bench when he starts jacking up shots!

richie

May 7th, 2011
4:47 pm

anyone notice the resounding BOO last night when Smith took his first jump shot. Youd think he could take a hint

moorman

May 7th, 2011
4:50 pm

The Bulls series is the perfect series to expose EVERYTHING thats wrong with the Hawks. Ok, after game one, in which Johnson and Crawford lit the Bulls up, they have adjusted. They are trapping Crawford and Johnson in the corners, they are letting Smith pop free on the wings, inviting the jump shot and covering everybody else. What does Smith do? We know, he DOESNT drive and attack the rim and cause the Chicago team to start collapsing off of Johnson or Crawford, no, he doesnt do that, soo, Chicago in effect is playing 5 defenders against 4 Hawks every trip down. The reason Teague has found success is because the Bulls arent ready for ANY Hawk to attack the rim because the gameplan is to just shut down the Hawks jumpshooting on the perimeter. If the Hawks played inside out by attacking the rim with Smith and letting him kick out, they would destroy the inferior talented Bulls, but thats not gonna happen and this team needs to be ship everybody but Teague, Johnson and Crawford to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

dap01

May 7th, 2011
4:51 pm

JC sucked because his brand of basketball can not be relied on. Joe sucked because he is not a lead player. Al did not exactly come up big. Josh is showing signs that he is not the greatest, look who has been his coaches in his career. The Hawks need to start ALL over.

Teague looked good.

SPORTSGIRL

May 7th, 2011
4:54 pm

PEOPLE PLEASE STOP GIVING AL HORFORD A PASS BE REAL HE JUST HASNT SHOWED UP!! AMARE TOOK SOMETHING FROM HIM HOPEFULLY AL CAN GET IT BACK BY SUNDAY

DMR

May 7th, 2011
4:57 pm

This is like having a child that reflects certain aspects of one parent and then another. The Hawks resembled the ASG in Game 3. A collective mess. Joe Johnson is no leader. Josh Smith is a hard head. Marvin Williams might be the worst pick this team has ever had; but if Shelden Williams hadn’t left town, we might have a debate.

Teague can play. Horford is your leader. Crawford is a good baller. This is your foundation. Time to get rid of the above mentioned and build something better.

Adam Keefe

May 7th, 2011
4:57 pm

Josh Smith is the poison of this team. We’ve been saying for 5 years “if Josh plays to his strengths, he’d be a star”…..it’s never gonna happen folks. The guy is too stubborn and his huge contract keeps him on the floor and off the bench. And you can tell by the looks from his teammates that they’re tired of his antics and stupid basketball IQ. Get rid of him and the team will prosper….sometimes addition by subtraction is the only way.

Josh Smith

May 7th, 2011
4:58 pm

Smell your upper lip again!

moorman

May 7th, 2011
4:59 pm

keep teague, crawford , heinrich , wilkins , pachulia and by contract default, johnson. ship EVERYBODY else to orlando for dwight howard. we will not have depth, but we will have a nba starting five:

pg teague
sg heinrich
sf johnson
pf anybody
c howard

bench
crawford
wilkins
pachulia

CGThree

May 7th, 2011
5:00 pm

I say find some kind of way to move Joe Johnson and that massive contract. I think the main reason this team is so up and down is because of him they take on his personality. Some nights he looks like an awsome force like game 1 against chicago. Other nights he just doesnt bring it. He’s a slow footed jump shooter he doesnt get to the free throw line he doesnt get easy baskets. So if his jumper isnt falling he’s useless offensively.

moorman

May 7th, 2011
5:05 pm

you can forget getting rid of johnson, he is the termite infested house that nobody wants. you have to find a way to move all the other big contracts and get another centerpiece in ( smith, horford, yes horford, williams and anybody else orlando wants for a howard sign and trade).

Tia

May 7th, 2011
5:07 pm

Funny—as my Dad and I were skulking out of the Arena last night after the beating the Hawks took he also said trade Al. Of course his reasoning is because nothing good is going to come from the Hawks and should have an opportunity. Joe needs to be traded. The AS annointed him the leader of the team and he shirks that responsibility whenever he can. Seriously before starting on what players to get rid of the Hawks need a true KICK you know what coach. Someone different from clueless Woody or babysitter Drew. These guys “match up well” to most teams on paper–why are they not motivated to play consistent ball? Drafting or trading for better players won’t overcome the coaching deficiency.

moorman

May 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Its funny that the very thing that the Hawks were meant and built to be: a FORWARD DOMINATED TEAM, is exactly WHAT THEY ARE NOT. its beyond laughable. They are a BACKCOURT DOMINATED TEAM, regardless of all the boneheaded moves billy knight made. Horford is showing that he is expendable also. Tear up what the problem is, the forwards, ship all of them for Howard and rebuild around teague, johnson at small forward, crawford, etc.

Nannyrut

May 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Nice article J Schultz. I think you summarized this pathetic ensemble better than anybody has.

leo

May 7th, 2011
5:12 pm

Man there was a time I would know what to say. Now I just say I am a Hawks Fan and leave it at that. I hope we get a win Sunday, but these guys are taking shots at each other in the media. I just don’t know now. Love the way Teague is playing though.

Tia

May 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

Moorman—I agree with you except one thing: is the players or the game plan? I also noticed the Hawks seem to be avoiding the paint all together, never driving for the score. But they played like the whole game. So either that is the STUPID game plan by Larry Drew and if it isn’t, why is he unable to get this team to play his game plan? The Bulls aren’t as good as the Hawks but we are making them look the part.

RomeDawg

May 7th, 2011
5:16 pm

Once again all the Hawks fans scratch their heads at what we witnessed….Our best player through the first 3 games of this series is an almost never used backup point guard. Why hasn’t he been playing all along? When given the chance Teague almost always delivers. Forget trading JJ and that albatross of a contract…kinda reminds me of Konkac. Marvin Williams..well he’s just not a point guard. A nice complimentary piece that may never find his niche in the NBA. He would make a better 6th man than starter, in my opinion. Al could be one helluva PF, but we let the under whelming Smith keep that spot. I hope Smith has jump shot himself into a trade with another team and I don’t care if we get nothing more than a few new balls and nets for him!

Tia

May 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

Wow RomeDawg. You went back to Konkac. Like the reference.

Not surprised

May 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

The hawks as a whole is nothing but a screw up. Lets start from the top we passed on chris paul, deron williams,rondoover paod josh and joe( over paid joe twice) joe johnson is not a CLUTCH player period and josh well hes jos. If josh not hangin around the rim finishing hes useless. Now this year with new coach and GM WE dROP the ball. We trade jordan crawford which is a baller he didnt play at all after havin a great summer league. We trade him bibby and half the bench+future for hinrich when teague was the future anyway. Should have let joe walk start jamal at 2 bring jc2 off the bench to score traded bibby and marvin for perkins basically thats wat okc gave up.

JJ Time

May 7th, 2011
5:19 pm

It’s time for the hawks to let JJ carry this team. They need to be running isos for JJ every time down and keep the the ball away from ball hog josh smith who will just shoot 3s.

tyger

May 7th, 2011
5:22 pm

Expectations…

1. What did the organization really expect?
2. Certainly, not a championship.
3. Probable good 2nd rd. showing, luckily Eastern Conf. showing.
4. If not, then what?
5. Retool obviously.
6. Then why trade promising Jordan Crawford and 2011 #1?
7. Desperation, didnt think they would make it outta rd. 1.
8. Now, the envitable is upon us and we’re short 2 assets.
9. Blame LD, blame the fans, blame the ballboy…
10. The buck stops at the Top!

Ummm......

May 7th, 2011
5:30 pm

Nathan and Moorman “Smokum good peace pipe” lol….Watch Nba basketball before you come up with inane trades….this isn’t an EA video game we’re talking about…

bigdawg

May 7th, 2011
5:30 pm

I haven’t seen that many boobs at once since I went to The Cheetah!

N.D.T.K.A.

May 7th, 2011
5:31 pm

Bingo! Coaching kills! If these guys are not responding to Drew, why not? L.D. is the coach of the team either they do it your way or they don’t play! Joe Johnson and Jamal pass out of the double team, attack the basket and split the double team, or sit at the end of the bench. Josh Smith plays in the post, attacks the basket from wherever he receives the ball, rebounds, and blocks out on all rebounds, or sits at the end of the bench. Al Horford defends, hustles, blocks out and rebounds, or sits at the end of the bench.

It is the coach’s responsibility to get these guys to play the way they should!!!!

Rico Niles

May 7th, 2011
5:34 pm

RELAX!!!! The Hawks will Rebound… Literally on the court and in the series.

JSS

May 7th, 2011
5:39 pm

You finally stopped the car to shoot the Glock!

There was a quote that use to make the rounds in my youth in sports. I cannot attribute it, but it was: “I’m responsible for my effort; but not the end result.” This Hawks’ team has always chosen to take 3 steps forward, subsequently they’ll run three frantically 3 steps back… It is not “Sybil” like; that is an ailment; it cannot be controlled… She needed diagnosis and a treatment that actually worked. On the other hand, the Hawks roster is filled with individuals who lack recognition skills. It always reminds me of Ralph Sampson. He had every skill needed in the toolbox. However, when the skill of reaching beyond his tremendous athletic ability was needed. He never had that in reserve. People always give Al Horford this benefit of the doubt. This is not college anymore. His career flow is starting to take on the air of David Greenwood with each playoff cycle…

I said earlier in the playoffs, “I’m only worried about the here and the now!” Hinrich gets a pass of his injury. Johnson must realize what he is and get beyond his own inclination. Crawford needs to stop playing junior analyst and try being a catalyst. Smith is playing on one leg. Say this for him, he must be tone deaf! What’s wrong with Horford can’t be cured in a playoff series. He needs a mentor not named “Tito” to get in his ear and in his game and teaching him a post repertoire… Then he’ll have to have the guts to use, not just talk about it!

LakeDawg

May 7th, 2011
5:46 pm

Very well put Jeff. I used to think that the Hawks folded because they couldn’t take the pressure. Now its obvious that they flop because they just can’t be bothered to try. A team with no ambition. They need a leader ( JJ won’t do) and they need to excise the cancer on the team (J Smoove).

Coach D.

May 7th, 2011
5:48 pm

If the Hawks stay true to form, they’ll win by 10 tomorrow, get everybody back on the bandwagon and break our hearts again. Say it won’t be so, JOE!!!!!

dawggone

May 7th, 2011
6:02 pm

this team is not as talented as the media wants you to believe. JJ is not, I repeat, is not an allstar. No chemistry for a team mthat has been together this long. No center to get you 10 and 10, and I’m not talking about Al who is playing out of position. This team doesn’t hustle, go after loose balls like other less talented teams I see. We are who we are and we are average team with average players. And thats the truth wether you like it or not ownership. You had many opportunities to be one of the best but you didn’t know how to draft with the exception of Al. Hawks dont win again, Bulls in 5, mark it down.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 7th, 2011
6:03 pm

If Al is this team’s leader and heart, and this team so often looks leaderless and heartless, what does that say about Al’s leadership?

Quit letting Al off the hook. Like Joe, Jamal, and Smoove, he’s just another good but not great player who occasionally looks brilliant but is not irreplaceable. And the reality is that offensively he has not shown up in these playoffs, regardless of whether he’s been guarded by power forwards or centers.

Ted M

May 7th, 2011
6:17 pm

I agree w/your assessment Jeff except the stupid JJ contract makes a meaningful trade impossible.

Josh Smith is talented but a major head case. While a trade of him would likely turnout best for him and his new team the Hawks would only get crap in return.

Sadly the Hawks only hope is to wait till JJ contract expires then rebuild. Unfortunately we have the worst owners in pro sports, the prospect of the Spirit successfully rebuilding 5 yrs from now is quite low.

The corporate ownership of the Brave is 100 billion times better then the Spirit.

Ted M

May 7th, 2011
6:20 pm

Najeh Davenpoop do you think the Hawks could improve by trading Al?

Najeh Davenpoop

May 7th, 2011
6:26 pm

“Najeh Davenpoop do you think the Hawks could improve by trading Al?”

I think the Hawks could improve by trading any individual player, including Al, if they get the right player(s) in return, but I wouldn’t trade Al — or Joe or Smoove or Jamal — just for the sake of trading them. They are all good but replaceable players.

Woodson Time

May 7th, 2011
6:27 pm

Bring back Mike Woodson! Drew can’t get it done at this level. Woodson can get the hawks back.