Caution: There’s a dangerous basketball team at work

This isn’t a great team, but we’ve known that all along. What we now know is that it’s again a dangerous team. Indeed, these Hawks are more dangerous than they were a year ago, when all they did was force the champs-to-be to a Game 7.

You wouldn’t bet on the Hawks to win the NBA title, but you wouldn’t want to face them, either. All the elements that fueled last spring’s run are still in place, with this bonus: They now know what the postseason entails, whereas last season’s team was flying blind.

“We’re more dangerous now,” Josh Smith said Sunday. “We have more experience. We’ve been in the playoffs.”

Smith spoke after a game in which he, Joe Johnson and Al Horford combined to score eight baskets, and still he wore a winner’s glow. The Hawks had beaten the NBA’s second-best team by 10 points, and beating the Lakers to close a nine-day stretch that included losses to Cleveland, San Antonio and those infernal Celtics was more than a tonic. It was a signal flare.

There’s a toughness about the Hawks, a toughness born in that Boston series and cultivated over a season that has exceeded expectation. If they split their final eight games, they’ll finish 47-35. That would constitute a 10-game upgrade without adding a real starter, although the guy starting in Marvin Williams’ stead had a bigger impact Sunday than the famous Kobe Bryant.

Philips Arena was packed for the occasion, with at least a third of the patrons wearing gold and purple. The Lakers drew within a point at the half, whereupon you figured Kobe would do his thing and that’d be that. Instead it was the promoted sub Maurice Evans, known as Mo, who did the Kobe thing. (The MoBe thing?)

Evans hit a trey 17 seconds into the third quarter. Then he hit another, and another. (The Hawks made six three-pointers in the period.) In the final 20 seconds, he scored off a dunk spawned by Johnson’s strip of Bryant, and now it was 72-58 and the Lakers were finished.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

“This was definitely important for our confidence,” Evans said. “We’d won seven in a row before we lost, and you don’t want to lose momentum now. There aren’t many games to get it back.”

One home win on a Sunday in March doesn’t mean the Hawks are unbeatable. That said, they’re a hard bunch to beat. They have enough of what you want in a playoff team – a slew of shooters, some seasoned reserves and the capacity to defend at every position save point guard – to make other qualifiers nervous.

“I view us as a very dangerous team,” Evans said. “We’re flying under the radar. We’re not expected to contend for the championship, and that’s the kind of team you have to look out for.”

The Hawks will finish fourth in the East, and you have to like their chances in Round 1. Philadelphia is working without Elton Brand, and Miami is essentially a one-man gang. Beyond that looms Cleveland, and that’s a tall assignment. But it’s no taller than the Celtics in 2008.

Only a fool would pick the Hawks to unhorse LeBron’s bunch. That said, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see these Hawks in another Game 7, this time in Round 2, this time knowing full well how a Game 7 on the road feels.

53 comments Add your comment

ValdostaMike

March 29th, 2009
8:02 pm

I really do not think we answered any questions that were created against San Antonio and the Celtics. Glad we won, we were due, but we must play better.

Matt Brill

March 29th, 2009
8:05 pm

I was at the game, and I have never seen a more uninspired player in my life than Kobe today. The only time he tried was when the crowd went absolutely nuts that GA tech walk on Mario West was locking Kobe down, and Kobe hit a jumper in his face. That was pretty nice on Kobe’s part, but seriously it was if the guy didn’t care. Very disappointing from that standpoint.

merbertmoover

March 29th, 2009
8:53 pm

looked to me like someone poured some gravy in kobe’s shoes, know what im sayin? mario was all over kobe like a fruitfly on a pineapple, mmm hmmm…..and that zaza, huh? he’s a tall drink o water aint he? everytime i see him play, its like “man, who dat?” looks to me like a porcupine eatin a candy cane, know what im sayin? yo, but for real, dem hawks lookin good baby! we gonna show dwade waddup, eat him up like some papa jons pizza, with extra pepperonis, know what im sayin?

jg

March 29th, 2009
8:58 pm

Mark,

These Hawks are VERY dangerous in Philips–man did I love to see all the “BANDWAGON” Laker fans leaving the building and heading off to drive back to LA–I mean Dunwoody or Marietta. I wish the Hawks would have a legitimate “home” crowd in Philips when we play one of these type teams. Not to sound racial at all–but when have you ever seen black folks wearing Boston Celtic colors. Sure didnt’ see that in the 80’s!!!! Those fellas were all rooting for the Pistons or Sixers back then. Say what you want about me–but I’m always and no matter what type of year my Atlanta teams are having–I’m rooting for the Falcons, Hawks and Braves every time they play. And I’m definitely starting to LOVE these Hawks…GREAT WIN–now take this effort to Philly on Tuesday.

JG in Chattanoog

Hawks Fan

March 29th, 2009
9:07 pm

From reading the three previous if I didn’t know any better I would have thought the Hawks lost, quit complaining and just be happy they won you bunch of LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
9:10 pm

A year ago I thought Zaza was the worst player in the NBA. Now I think he’s a real asset — 11 points, 13 rebounds and even three assists today.

SWAT Native

March 29th, 2009
9:14 pm

Kobe sprained his ankle Friday night, and I thought he might not play today. You could see he wasn’t himself. The rest of the Lakers looked like they spent too much time in the clubs last night.

In any event, it’s a big win for the Hawks. I enjoyed watching the Lakers fans go away disappointed.

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
9:20 pm

Kobe played 37 minutes and managed 19 shots, missing 12. And if he “wasn’t himself,” I suggest the Hawks throwing defenders at him — first Joe Johnson, then Mario West, then Mo Evans — had something to do with it.

This is not a bad defensive team apart from Mike Bibby.

Fred

March 29th, 2009
9:22 pm

Stinky

March 29th, 2009
9:31 pm

Mark,

Great article as usual. The tears on the faces of Lakers fans made my day as well. As for the game, I was happy to see us win when we weren’t at our best. Joe was off, Josh missed wide open dunks, Al wasn’t a factor & yet we still had the depth to dispatch of the vaunted Lakers by 10. I see us beating MIA in 6 in the first round, but we have to find a way to win at CLE. Its doable, but we have to play our best basketball to make it happen.

-Ya Smell Me?

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
9:39 pm

Thanks much, Stinky. And let borrow esteemed colleague Sekou Smith’s line about the Laker fans on hand today: “Half these people haven’t ever been in California.”

lawton

March 29th, 2009
9:49 pm

when the REAL season starts up, hit me back mark. its good to get excited about the hawks, i remember the good ole days of the 80s and even the late 70s, early 80s hubie brown teams, but this team is missing the crucial element of playoff basketball, TEAM defense. and, here is the expected woodson dump: woodson has the offense clamped down too much with joe johnson isolations. I like how they used that againt boston last year by having joe and bibby play the two man game with johnson was doubled, but they need more of a spread attack. i think williams and flip and mo evans are the 3 keys. if they can put up enuf points to offset josh smith’s turnovers and lousy shot selection, the hawks offense will be ok, regardless of woodson.

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
10:00 pm

Mike Bibby is technically the point guard, but I’m betting Joe Johnson gets more assists passing to Bibby than Bibby does to Joe. Joe has become a terrific passer out of double-teams. This whole team passes very nicely.

Eric

March 29th, 2009
10:02 pm

Welcome to Atlanta home of the worst fans in America!!! I am from the A, but if I were a pro player I would never play for this city. Yes, those idiots down at Phillips today dressed in blue and gold were born right here. I get ridiculed in my own city because I am a proud Hawks fan. Wake up Atlanta, and show some respect to your home team!!!

mike

March 29th, 2009
10:11 pm

hey mark.. can we get a face shot of the blond haired young lady in the pic?

Big T

March 29th, 2009
10:16 pm

Surprise surprise – Hawks “fans” show up at Philips today because of the opponent. That’s the only way you can get a decent crowd in that building.

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
10:18 pm

You mean the young lady talking to Beyonce?

spotts

March 29th, 2009
10:31 pm

Yea, too bad you’re not a pro player, Eric. Then you could really show those fans.

Yes the Hawks won today, but what about the last two games? They lost to the Duncan-less Spurs and the Garnett-less Celtics. It doesn’t seem like there’s hope in the near future for the Hawks to become an elite team. No lottery pick this year. Bibby’s leaving, and if he’s not he’s getting old. The coach and ownership are awful. We have a good team right now, but I want to see a great team. I don’t know if that’s in the near future…

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
10:34 pm

This will indeed be a big offseason, Spotts — Bibby is a free agent, and Marvin has to be re-upped — but I would say this: A team has to walk before it can run. It would have been unrealistic to expect greatness from a group that finished 37-45 last season.

Eric

March 29th, 2009
10:50 pm

Spotts you sound like you’re from Atlanta, I admire you’re negative attitude. New GM Rick Sund has said that the Hawks are in good shape this off season. Speedy Claxton comes off the books soon, they still have the rights to J. Chill that they can keep or trade. Josh Smith, Horford, and Marvin all turned 23 yrs old this year. The Hawks have a lot of options, and they all look good!!!

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
10:52 pm

Speedy Claxton? Doesn’t he have one of those rollover contracts? Every year he gets six more?

Russ

March 29th, 2009
11:21 pm

Bradley,It’s so hilarious, how you’re trying to ease back on the home side. I’m suprised you’re even writing about the Hawks after the way you trashed Woody and the team over the last few years,even though they lost that play-off series against Boston ,they still made you eat crow.You normally hide behind the Braves and Falcons to avoid having to continually eat your words,I notice your still trying to stick to your guns by leading off the article with “we knew this wasn’t a great team”,you sports writers in Atlanta are such a JOKE!!!! Like Rick Carlyle[ someone who really is in the know]said “it’s incredible what Woody has done when you consider what he walked into coupled with the fact that he’s never been a head coach.” but you clowns would never admit it. I think you guys better get used to giving this guy his due.And how Brilliant of a basketball mind did Billy knight have ?

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
11:24 pm

I give up. How brilliant a mind did Billy Knight have?

Lamar

March 29th, 2009
11:46 pm

The guy at the bottom right of the pic should be on suicide watch

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
11:49 pm

He does seem glum. Then again, Mike Woodson seems glum even when he wins.

Ted Striker

March 30th, 2009
12:32 am

Good news!

I have the same bookie as Tim Donaghy. Word is that my boy in Sing Sing picked the Hawks to make it to Round 2, Game 7.

My rule of thumb for NBA betting is this. I always go with teams that Donaghy or Stern has money on, I never take the teams where Barkley puts money down.

JD

March 30th, 2009
1:42 am

I was at the game and it was a great atmosphere. I am disappointed in our fan base, though, because you’re right – a majority of them have probably never even been to California. They’re just leftover Laker fans from the Magic, Worthy, Abdul-Jabbar erra. We were sitting in an area surrounded by Lakers fans and it was LOVELY watching them grab their Kobe gear and their yellow and gold colors and stuffing it in their free Home Depot bag and heading out the door. That’s the kind of place that Philips Arena needs to be and THAT’S what the Hawks have to continue doing – they have to BECOME this city’s home team. While that, I fear, is gonna take some time to happen, I feel that the overall turnout and support of the Hawks was just as good, if not better, than the support some of these wannabe Californians showed for the Lakers.

What a performance from Mike Bibby and ZaZa Pachulia. There were some gimme points that Joe and Bibby missed (like the layups they missed at point blank range and the shot that Joe shot that was WAY short in the second half after driving past Kobe and pulling up in Gasol’s face) but you’ve got to be encouraged by the overall effort that the Hawks have been putting forth in the past 10-15 games. Sure they lost to a Duncan-less Spurs team (who still had Tony Parker) and a Garnett-less Celtics team (who still had Ray Allen AND Paul Pierce), but as the article states the Hawks are not a great team, but a DANGEROUS team. I’d be a little concerned with the team that has the potential to pull off the timely upset. Hey, the NBA is where amazing has happened.

scottbravesfan

March 30th, 2009
2:18 am

Man Atlanta has so many bandwagon fans. What’s with black people born and raised in Atlanta not pulling for their cities teams? I see them on Friday wearing Celtics jerseys, which they clearly have never been to Boston, black people aren’t exactly welcome in that town, and then on Sunday they are busting out their Lakers gear when they have probably never even been out of the south let alone been to Los Angeles. I can understand when transients in Atlanta root for the Yankees, Cubs, and Red Sox because they are actually from those cities but trust me as someone who has been to LA there is NO ONE moving from LA to Atlanta. So you know those laker fans are not transients. Just good old fashion bandwagon fans just like Atlanta is known.

On another note you couldn’t pay me enough money to go out in public wearing purple and yellow you look like a moron.

Dr. Warren

March 30th, 2009
2:28 am

The blonde girl, the Beyonce girl, and the Lakers jersey girl are clearly waitresses/actresses from Santa Monica who love saying the word “amazing” and who made the cross-country trip just to follow their beloved team, whose stats they know by heart. Give them a break.

Mark Bradley

March 30th, 2009
7:46 am

I just assumed the blonde young lady speaking with Beyonce was Christina Aguilera.

TheHawksFan

March 30th, 2009
8:51 am

Double shot of Goose at Hawks and Lakers game in Phillips arena $16. Club level tickets. $350. Watching a Laker Fan take off his Kobe jersey after the game…….Pricelesssss. Mannnn. GOOOO Hawks!!!

MightyQuinn

March 30th, 2009
8:54 am

Beyonce and Christina are happy Kobe gave them both room keys and the Laker Jersey Girl is clearly upset she didn’t get one, too.

welikebaseball2

March 30th, 2009
8:58 am

MARK:
While I mostly agree with your analysis, I’d have to extend the title to say…”There’s a dangerous basketball team at work…except when their jobs take them out of town.”

Okay, yes, I’m excited that playoff basketball is back in Atlanta. I’m just not satisfied knowing that there’s pretty much no way we make the finals. Fact is, until we start winning road games against elite teams, we’re destined to second round exits at best (if not first). Do you really believe we could take a series against anyone past the first round if we happen to lose even 1 home game in a series?

Rufio

March 30th, 2009
9:11 am

If that’s Beyonce, then consider me Miles Davis.

3000

March 30th, 2009
9:22 am

Hellloooo?? This is an Atlanta team… Don’t you realize we are ALWAYS let down? Never been different. Atlanta pro-sports is cursed

Keep It Real!

March 30th, 2009
9:24 am

The 3nd round is as far as the Hawks will go in the play-offs.

Coach Woodie does not know how to use this teams unbelieveable physical skills. This team needs to run. We have a stating five who can put the ball on the floor and pass. This team should be a running team!

Barry

March 30th, 2009
9:38 am

Hey Y’all:

The Hawks kicked the Laker butt last night. These Hawks are for real. These Hawks are in this for the marathon. They will be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. All the NBA are afraid of what these young Hawks can do and will do. That’s why I cannot wait until the playoff. Everybody starts from scratch. And with that, the Hawks are a revamped team as compared to last year. With the addition of Flip Murray and Moe Evans, and the maturity of the other young players like Mario West and others, these Hawks are ready to hurt somebody. They are ready for a fight and a run in this marathon for the “FINISH LINE” which is the NBA championship. Therefore, get on board as a “HAWK FAN” and lets “PUSH” these nitty, gritty, bunch of talented HAWKS over the finish line. They are built for the long haul for this playoff. They are are playing in “OUR HOUSE” at Phillips Arena where they are going to “SHOCK” the hell out of teams when they show up in the ATL. We are a “THREAT” and a “LEGITIMATE THREAT” to make a run for the NBA Championship. We are taking the gloves of and ready to “SHOCK THE WORLD!!!!”
Let’s do this thing.

“ATlANTA HAWKS, BOOM-BYE-YEAH!!!!!!”

“SHOCK THE WORLD!!!!!!!!”

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET fro a HAWK FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ringold

Derek

March 30th, 2009
10:01 am

Band Wagon Jumpers??? I am a die hard LAKERS FAN have been every since I have watched NBA Basketball. I represented my team with my purple and gold as I have always. The real BAND WAGON JUMPERS are the fly by night Hawks fans, who only support them when they are winning or a great team such as the Lakers come in town. Where was the sold out arenas and fans when the Hawks could barely win double digit games? No, I am not from LA but I am a fan of the Lakers. Matter of fact, I wasn’t born and raised in Atlanta either, probably like most of the implants that were at the Hawks game yesterday claiming to be die hard Hawks fan. Let’s keep it real.

Mark Bradley

March 30th, 2009
10:03 am

If the Hawks reach the third round, that means they’ll have beaten Cleveland. That also means they’ll be in the Eastern Conference finals. That also would mean there’d be a parade down Peachtree.

AtlSouthside

March 30th, 2009
12:19 pm

Seems like our team is much better off without Childress. Can’t believe there are people who think we are missing/needing him. What did he accomplish in Atlanta? From what I remember the kid couldnt even dribble and run at the same time (like Josh Smith).

Mo Evans & Flip were the best pick-ups in the league, especially coming off the bench.

Mark Bradley

March 30th, 2009
12:29 pm

I’m not ready to say that Childress wouldn’t have helped. I thought he was a very good and extremely valuable sub. Then again, the Hawks probably don’t have room for both Evans and Murray had they re-signed Childress.

AtlSouthside

March 30th, 2009
12:32 pm

Exactly, what Childress brought to the table is peanuts compared to the Steak & Shrimp that Flip and Mo brings….

truth-serum

March 30th, 2009
6:34 pm

Mark Bradley

March 29th, 2009
9:10 pm

You were right the first time… Pachulia is a turnover waiting to happen. Even a broke clock is right twice a day!

scottbravesfan

March 30th, 2009
2:18 am

Why is a simple basketball game seen racially divisively through your eyes? What? Don’t white people like to cheer for a winner?
I love the Hawks and their rebirth. I would like to summit to you that Atlanta from the days of the Atlanta crackers to hank Aaron and the braves to Michael Vick and the falcons to your current post, The Atlanta sports picture is littered with racism. The southern redneck bubba attitude in Georgia sports is a definite turnoff for many blacks who don’t necessarily run back home after you’ve cut down the victim of your latest lynching, ala Michael Vick. You will never win a Championship with in sports with a bubba based mindset. Nobody wants to pay to see the redneck’s pick to replace a superstar like Vick; he’ll recover before the falcons will. I don’t know of too many teams to have such a problem selling out a playoff team like the dead birds. They don’t sell like they did under Vick, the excitement is gone. Yea the thrill is gone baby. Neither the NFL posturing, nor the racist press can relight that fire. The fal- -cons are pheasants under glass – Belly up first round. That mediocre qb they got can barely throw a five yard out but won the rookie of the year for handing off to the runner-up NFL MVP Turner and to Mr. Norwood.
The obvious racist public lynching of Vick, the abuse that Hank Aaron took, the way Chipper Jones and the bubba posse forced David Justice off the Braves leaves a bad taste in the black community. Just because you write to cover the facts or as an aversion doesn’t mean the truth isn’t obvious.
Scottbravesfan, don’t expect black people to be united and pulling with you as you raise the confederate flag.
Prov 14:34
34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
KJV

Mark Bradley

March 30th, 2009
6:37 pm

Truth Serum, I respect your opinion, but you should know that Chipper Jones considered David Justice a mentor.

Snowman

March 30th, 2009
7:10 pm

Mark, I thought you wrote a pretty fair and supportive article unlike the kind of negative and mean spirited articles towards coach Woodson that Jeff Schultz writes. I want to “Thank You” for that. At least you and Sekou Smith are fair and balanced. I am begging you Jeff, begging you to come root the Hawks on. free yourself from such negativity…enough already!!! (please help him Mark…smile, P-A-L-E-E-Z-E!!!)

Now for what I wanted to mention, look w/ 1) No draft picks this season, 2) Lose Josh Childress and Kwame (we needed another Big from free agency and he would have had allot of value to the Hawks) 3) Both, Josh Smith and Marvin have been out for pretty big chunks of the season, 4) Acie Law has not quite worked out yet, and 5)We did not make a move at the trade deadline. 6) We still have ownership

In spite of all of that we are going to have a 10 or 12 game upgrade from a year ago (are you kidding me)!!!…that is fantastic!!!…In fact, coach Woodson should get a few Coach of the year votes (not from Jeff Schultz I am sure). What he has done with this crew is remarketable.

So to you coach Woodson, bravo on a job well done this season!!! Truth-Serum continue to keep it real!!!

truth-serum

March 30th, 2009
9:26 pm

Mark Bradley

March 30th, 2009
6:37 pm
Truth Serum, I respect your opinion, but you should know that Chipper Jones considered David Justice a mentor.

YEAH! RIGHT!!!!

GoldenVulture

March 31st, 2009
2:04 pm

Sure, I agree that the Hawks are indeed a dangerous team, but the HUGE question remains, “Will the Hawks play inspired, tough basketball for 48 minutes for EACH game during the playoffs?” The Hawks did that last year against Boston for six games, but in game 7 the Hawks were in fantasyland and got blown out by about 40 points. The Atlanta Hawks are truly a great team when they play tough defensive basketball for 48 minutes. There is not a team out there that the Hawks can’t beat, if they play great basketball for four quarters. If they have lapses with a bunch of turnovers and slow starts, the Hawks will lose the opening round and get swept. The Hawks are capable of winning the NBA title this year, but they have to play the way they played the LA Lakers on sunday in order to make it through the rounds and on to the finals. That is the only way the Hawks will make a good showing in the playoffs and be crowned as champions of the basketball world this june. stay tuned.

Mark Bradley

March 31st, 2009
2:38 pm

I’d disagree that this is “truly a great team.” It’s a good team.

GoldenVulture

March 31st, 2009
4:52 pm

Mark: good comment. But follow the comments all the way through. As I said, I believe **the Hawks are a great team ONLY when they play tough defensive basketball for 48 minutes**. When this is taking place, Josh Smith is blocking shots, playing great interior and exterior defense and scoring at will. Al Horford is doing the same thing. Joe Johnson is Joe Johnson (certainly one of the top 5 players in the league today, maybe in NBA history); and Mike Bibby is playing as strong as he did when he was with the Sacramento Kings (an absolute monster at the point guard position, draining 3s blindfolded if he chose to). The Hawks were clicking on all cylinders against Boston last year during the playoff games in Atlanta and were 3-0 against the defending world champion Celtics at home. The Hawks played great defense against the Lakers Sunday and won the game easily. My point really references three items: #1 No Slow Starts; #2 minimize turnovers; and #3 play great defense for 48 minutes. I could even add a #4, which would be OUTREBOUND the opponent. When the Hawks do the first three, and all four they are, in my humble opinion, a great team. World Championship will be coming in June! Watch out NBA the Hawks are flying high!

JuliusCesaer

April 1st, 2009
3:39 pm

truth-serem. I dont agree with some of your comments. First, Chipper Jones and his bubba posse didnt run off David Justice. Chipper has referred to David Justice as a mentor of his, someone who he learned a lot from. Secondly, why do people like you keep bringing up Mike Vick, particularly on a Hawks blog. Vick is yesterdays news and will never, ever play again in the NFL. If Vick does manage to play NFL football again, he will be 39 or 40 and will be too old to be a starter and will be relegated to a backup role. Forget about Vick because I am sure that Vick has long ago forgotten about you.