The Hawks have a choice: Show up or get shown up

Cleveland – Just because they’re playing with house money doesn’t mean the Hawks have nothing to lose. And that’s what Mike Woodson tried to tell them after they were beaten by LeBron James’ team by 27 points in a sobering Game 1.

“We’ve played our way to this point,” Woodson said before practice Wednesday, “and you never know when you’re going to be in this situation again.”

And what had the coach done after Game 1? He’d yelled. Said Woodson: “I kind of lashed out a little bit last night after the game. [The players] don’t want to see me right now. I’ve got to go talk to them.”

It’s fine to set specific goals, even finer to meet them. But what happens when you do what you intended and still have games to play? Do you – picking up the house money image – double down and dare even more greatly, or do you smile benignly and slip your money in your pocket?

These Hawks said they wanted to improve their record, have the home court edge in Round 1 and advance to Round 2. They managed all of the above. To lose now to the top-seeded Cavaliers in a competitive series would be no disgrace. But they don’t want to be embarrassed four games running. That would cheapen them and their accomplishments. That would leave what has been a most palatable season with a sour aftertaste.

Said Joe Johnson after Game 1: “We need to play with a sense of pride. That second half, we kind of gave up … We need to act like we want to be here.”

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The weird part was that Johnson might well have been talking to himself. He took only 10 shots in Game 1, half as many as LeBron. Afterward Johnson and Woodson spoke of the Cavs’ double-teaming defense, but after further video review …

“We made plays out of the double-teams,” Woodson said Wednesday. “I didn’t think that hurt us as much as I thought it did.”

Put simply, the Hawks’ best player had another tepid playoff game. And with Marvin Williams in obvious disarray and Al Horford no lock to start Game 2 – his ankle stiffened Tuesday and he didn’t practice Wednesday – the Hawks are already at a manpower disadvantage. Mo Evans and Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray can’t offset LeBron James. Among Hawks, only Johnson can manage that.

Woodson yet again: “We need to move the ball side-to-side more, and that’s on me. I felt like I didn’t help the team the way I should have.”

This series, however, stands to be more about mindset than tactics. The Hawks must decide if they’re willing to pay the heavy price to trade blows with LeBron’s forceful team. They must decide if a series victory over Dwyane Wade was enough for one spring. If that’s how they feel, Round 2 will end in four deflating games.

But, should they choose to meet fire with fire, they could win a game or two and do themselves even prouder. Just because they’ve gone where the Hawks have rarely been doesn’t mean they should stop now. And who knows? They could get lucky. They could scare the Cavs as much as they frightened the Celtics a year ago. But they can’t do it if they don’t try.

80 comments Add your comment

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
7:42 pm

Oh well enjoy Cleveland. A great site to get to know Cleveland. http://www.247polkaheaven.com This is what makes Cleveland rock.

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
7:45 pm

Time to show what the Hawks are made of, time to give up, I don’t think so. Did America give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbour, heck no.

GA Bulldawg

May 6th, 2009
7:45 pm

Woodson yet again: “We need to move the ball side-to-side more, and that’s on me. I felt like I didn’t help the team the way I should have.”

Yeah Woody cause you certainly went out of your way to help the team during the regular season. The help you gave them all year allowed us to beat a much inferior Miami Heat team in 7 games…this man is a genius on X’s and O’s! Hmmmm running more set plays wouldn’t help this team, teaching the team how to move without the ball also wouldn’t help either would it?

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
7:48 pm

Maybe a group Yoga session given by Woody would help.

Mark Bradley

May 6th, 2009
7:50 pm

That’s an idea. Perhaps a day-spa outing would work wonders for the Hawks.

Atrocity

May 6th, 2009
8:01 pm

1) Joe never places the onus on himself. Why didn’t you ask him if he needs to step up?

2) Winning 1 or 2 games? You don’t want to try win the series? Oh wait–I forgot–you hate all the Atlanta teams and are just a fair-weather fan.

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
8:01 pm

How was the Walleye Mark? Since I cannot for the life of me figure out why the Hawks play like worldbeaters one game and fall apart the next, how was your dinner?

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
8:05 pm

Atrocity, win the series, that would be funny in some alternate universe. I am not a fairweather fan, it is raining here. I am a bandwagon jumper. Right now the wagon is going over the cliff. Quick, jump off.

Atrocity

May 6th, 2009
8:14 pm

I could care less how hard the team is we’re playing. The goal is to win the series. Did we beat them during the regular season? Yes. Did the refs screw us in multiple other games? Yes. We aren’t playing the freaking 1996 Bulls.

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
8:23 pm

hey great post mark, i agree lol now would be a nice time for the hawks to spend a day at the spa. One thing i saw in the first half of the game was that the cavs offense was similar to the hawks.For most of the half they had their on version of iso joe with lebron which i think was the reason the hawks did pretty well during the 1st half but then the 2nd half, the cavs passed more and played team ball which led to the blowout…now if only the hawks would do that

ignition

May 6th, 2009
8:28 pm

Somebody check to see if Joe Johnson is a man cause he plays with a lack of testicular fortitude that I cannot stand..
The nerve of this guy talking about his teamates when he turns the ball over 5 times and has 11 pt..
I’ve about seen enough of this extra soft player that is NO WAY in any form a “leader”.
Joe Johnson cost us the game in the second half plane and simple, he needs to get his head out his anus and play better “leader”.

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
8:33 pm

Playing team ball, hmmmm…. You may have something there Hawksfan. Now how do we get it to the coach and team? If only they read Mark’s blog.

I agree with you FAN. The birds need to quit playing like some kind of middle schoolers who are mad about not getting the ball and play like the worldbeaters they were in game seven against the Heat.

Ishakamusa

May 6th, 2009
8:34 pm

Sekou wrote the same blog about how Joe never uses “I” — only “we”

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
8:42 pm

“cuz” maybe we can get on twitter and get this blog to joe or sombody lol becuz i read that joe has a twitter account

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
8:46 pm

Ishakamusa, that is because there is no I in Team Catastrophe. There are several I’s in Individual Failure. Or even, I Am Tired.

Mark Bradley

May 6th, 2009
8:50 pm

Joe is @LittleRock02 on Twitter.

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
8:51 pm

I don’t know Hawksfan. I am just an old guy but twittering sounds like something that should be done in privacy. With maybe a cigarette afterward. Of course, I would probably just fall asleep after a tweet. Now in my prime I could have twittered all night.

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
8:55 pm

well i believe there are 2 reasons joe is really struggling. first reason is maybe he dosent have the legs to go. Since he dosent have the legs it makes it very hard for him to get some kind of energy. Second Woodson sets no plays at all that gets joe open. He always do either bang bang bang shoot or dribble dribble dribble shoot or pass out of double team. During that plus playing defense and running takes a toll on your body. but he’s gonna have to step up and led cuz the hawks played that game as if they were satisfied with just making the second round.

Chattin Hill

May 6th, 2009
9:05 pm

Joe Johnson: The only Hawk who can approximate LeBron James…

…when he’s not tired.

brewdawg

May 6th, 2009
9:08 pm

I agree with something I read on Mark’s blog from earlier today: the Hawks are 1 and a half players away from being bona fide championship contenders. My one and a half= a true center (I’ve mentioned Thabeet as a possibility if we can trade up… beyond that I admit I’m a little clueless as who to get… and an upgrade over Marvin.

Lloyd Free

May 6th, 2009
9:09 pm

Ishakamusa: Joe Johnson did use “I” one time when he said “I’m tired.”

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
9:15 pm

lol well maybe il twitter him later. cuz im a lot younger than what u mite think. your probaly old enough to be my father. thats how young i am lol…im not even close to my prime

brewdawg

May 6th, 2009
9:19 pm

Oh, and I also agree with Mark in that Marvin will always be “not Chris Paul or Deron Williams” in Atlanta. Don’t discount the possibility that this could be a hinderance to his development, and that he could thrive somewhere else. Hell, he deserves to thrive somewhere else.

Mz. Hawkdafied

May 6th, 2009
9:37 pm

The Hawks were playing with confidence in the first half but after getting down by 5 by half time that confidence waned and turned to doubt. I don’t think they’re satisfied with a second round win cause if that was the case then the first half would have been just like the second half. The biggest difference between the Hawks and Cavs in my opinion is confidence. Cleveland believes they are the best and can’t no one tell them different. JJ’s problem is that he’s lost his confidence, he has been hesitant to shoot. It’s like he’s thinking too hard and is filled with doubt. Mike Bibby and Josh Smith seemed to be the only ones who showed up to play. They didn’t give a hoot who they were playing they were there to win.

I wasn’t worried about the team at first until I read that JJ was tired. That sounds to me like a person ready to go on vacation. That’s not good at all. Nothing worth having is easy to attain. You wanna be counted among the elite you have to earn it and work hard at all costs. Ahh I was so looking forward to seeing the Hawks go beyond the goals they set for themselves. I guess they didn’t think beyond making to the second round. okay now that they are there now what are they gonna do? A sweep by the Cavs is definitely not what they should do with it. GO HAWKS! NO MORE EXCUSES! GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!!!!!!!

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
9:41 pm

Hawksfan, I am old enough to remember watching the Beatles the first time they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Kinda dates me.

Brew I am with you. Marvin deserves to thrive elsewhere. U-haul has a great $29.95 special going right now.

The Hawks need to put that seven foot center on their wish list. It don’t appear that they will pay for one.

Any of you Hawks want to make me eat my words go right ahead Thursday night. I will be more than happy to come on here after a blowout of the Cavs and say what an idiot I am.

DHD

May 6th, 2009
9:48 pm

Wow, Mark. How long did it take you to think that up? We should call you Mr Obvious.

Mz. Hawkdafied

May 6th, 2009
9:52 pm

If the Hawks don’t bring it Saturday with an arena filled with us cheering, screaming, and rooting them on then it’s time to start worrying about the team. Until then I’m gonna chill.

doc

May 6th, 2009
9:52 pm

“One pass and won’t shot on offense for the Hawks won’t get the job done against Cleveland.”

That is what it says on the AJC Hawks page. It’s said this for an hour.

Do any of you people actually proofread what you write?

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
10:02 pm

hey cuz i just got on twitter and i was gonna hit joe up but he hasnt even been on since April. 14. guess he been to busy lol but hey i tried….

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
10:06 pm

No doc, the proofreader was let go to cut costs. But they do have a cool KFC coupon on the Hawks page you can download thanks to Oprah. Oprah hawking KFC on the Hawks page. You can’t make this stuff up.

Cuz

May 6th, 2009
10:11 pm

Two twired to twitter.

HAWKSFAN

May 6th, 2009
10:14 pm

yea that is true well all i can hope for is that they come to play tommorow. I want them to win of course but i would take a loss if they left it all on the floor

mike28212

May 6th, 2009
10:24 pm

Great column as always Mr. Bradley. Here’s the link to the Wenger soundbytes I mentioned in the chat today. I think my favorite is ‘I’m not opposed to it.” http://www.twogunrocky.com/SOUNDBOARDFOLDER/ArseneWenger_soundboard.html

Shannon

May 6th, 2009
10:59 pm

Word is Joe Johnson is playing bad to get rid of his coach…. that ownership group is not smart enough to do the right thing!!!

Hal Basch

May 6th, 2009
11:16 pm

Word is, Joe Johnson…is tired.

Jamaaliver

May 6th, 2009
11:26 pm

Hey Cuz, Germany didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor. That would be the Japanese.

Anthony

May 6th, 2009
11:28 pm

In my opinion Joe needs to be a more vocal leader on the floor. When you’re getting paid the money he is getting paid, that position dictates you have to be able to light a fire under your team, not just by example. It’s not the coach. By this time of the year the players know the plays and each others tendencies on the court. THE PLAYERS have to be the ones who EXECUTE, PLAY WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY, AND HAVE PRIDE. Do they not know they not only represent themselves as pros but they’re representing us, the TRUE ATLANTA HAWKS FANS who have suffered all these years and yearning every year for a team we can be proud of. Cmon guys and show some life. What ya’ll think?

Lica

May 6th, 2009
11:32 pm

I have a question. Do you hear a little hate in Joe’s words?

Joe’s numbers have been down since before the all star game. He performed horribly in the all star game. He has taken flack for his mediocre performances since then. Even to the point that some Hawks commercials now say “Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks”.

He clearly can not rally the team and motivate them. Is Joe turning to bad mouthing his team to cover up for his poor production. Maybe its me, but wouldn’t a real team player pass the ball to the player making shots. He wants the ball to do what with it. He had the most turnovers in Game 1, 5 to be exact.

Only one action can correct a good player that is labeled an all star (some times undeservedly) who clearly can not take responsiblilty for his own actions. A dose of humility from the media and fans. I think Joe is getting his fill now and hopefully will return next season prepared to be the player he can be.

All to often, the most average of us can be tricked in to believing the hype. Joe is there. It is time for him to put up or shut up. No more throwing his team mates under the bus. I believe he should be a man and own up to his lackluster performances. If we don’t see that soon, Joe is headed for a downward spriral.

No team is going to pay him what he is getting now with this kind of production. If I am not mistaken, he is up for option this summer.

Darrin "The Vent King"

May 6th, 2009
11:36 pm

MARK IT DOWN- Hawks will win Game 2, you heard it here first…

wxwax

May 7th, 2009
12:05 am

You’re a hard working man today, Mark. Nice job, thanks.

One thing Coach Woodson said that makes more and more sense the older I get: “There’s no guarantee you’ll ever be here again.”

Young players never really believe that. I’m not sure the young Hawks believe that. But if they did, they’d play with an intensity that would burn a hole in Quicken Loans Arena.

I’m watching the Rockets play Los Angeles right now. And the defensive intensity Houston brings to the game puts the Hawks to shame. LA’s the favorite and Houston’s already socked them on the nose once, and they may be fixing to do it to them two games in a row… with Yoa Ming on the bench, even!

The Rockets already have the road win in their pocket, and they’re still playing like there’s no tomorrow. Now there’s a team with cohesion and leadership.

Barry

May 7th, 2009
12:10 am

Great post mark. I am reading it late but what a great post.

This goes back to coaching and the philosophy and goals you set fore your team. As an organization and coach of any team with any perceived type of players they have, the organiztion and the coaches should always have as the first priority of the team is to “WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP”. Sub goals should be: 1. Establish a winning record, 2. Win the division, 3. Make the playoff , and 4. WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD. These are subgoals. However, if your subgoals are preached to be your main goals throughout the season, with the exception of #4-WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD, then we have a problem when those subgoals are achieved and gives your players a “false sense of security” in thinking that their season is “DONE”. The players belief system becomes disarranged and they become just another team in the playoff instead of a team fighting to win the playoff. It appears to me that must have been the philosophy of this franchise and coach. They laud themselves of the yearly improvements and want a pat on the back but as a team in the playoff. However, they are playing as if to say as an organization and a team is “WOW , WE ARE JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE, ONLY, AND NOT FIGHT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE NBA. THANKS FOR INVITING US. And that’s IT!!!!!!! This philosophy and goal is not that of winning organizations and teams. This is a philosophy of “PERPITRATORS” who want to tease fans about wanting a winning organization in their city. If this is the philosophy of the Hawks and its coach than they all must go. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is not the case. I want to believe the organization and the players want to win the “NBA CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD”. I want to believe that the team is more than hungry to compete and win against any team in the NBA. I want to believe that our Hawks are ready to “SHOCK THE WORLD!!”. But if the philosophy by the organization and coach was tell the team to just to make it to the 2nd Round of the playoff as a goal then that is “malfeasence to professional sports”. YOU PLAY TO WIN EVERY GAME! If this is what they were teaching during the season then they all must go and we must start over. This lowering your standards and not pushing players to excel as a team, every game, and throughout the playoffs, is dunb thinking. Therefore, I encourage the HAWKS organization and the “PLAYERS” to “MAKE ME WRONG!!” “MAKE ME WRONG!!” I am with you when you make me wrong. “DO NOT MAKE ME RIGHT IN THIS. PLEASE!!!!!
“MAKE ME WRONG!!!!”

LET’S GO HAWKS! LET”S GO HAWK’S!!! LET’S GO HAWKS!!

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a HAWK FAN!! TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

………………………”ATLANTA HAWKS, BOOM-BYE-YEAH!!…………
…………………………”SHOCK THE WORLD!!!”………………..

David Smith

May 7th, 2009
12:12 am

I wish our guys would communicate more with each other on the court. No one seems to call out picks, double teams, and screens out there.I know joe is not a vocal leader but, we need someone to step up and not be afraid to call out players that are not performing like they should. I’m expecting to see a more competitive effort from our guys thursday night (WIN OR GO HOME HAWKS!!!).

otisfirefly

May 7th, 2009
12:13 am

@ Jamaaliver……you obviously haven’t seen Animal House. “Over, Over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor….”, is a classic comedy line from that movie

otisfirefly

May 7th, 2009
12:17 am

Varejao looks like Sideshow Bob

[...] meticulous AJC wordsmith Mark Bradley points out, the choice to either fight back or get smashed, belongs to the [...]

hot err

May 7th, 2009
2:46 am

Hawks have a choice- show up or get embarrassed? Really? This is expert analysis? Really? No wonder no one buys the paper anymore.

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2009
3:03 am

Thanks, WxWax. Thanks, Barry. Thanks, BrewDawg.

vincent

May 7th, 2009
3:28 am

Fellas, it was the japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Birdy

May 7th, 2009
4:12 am

My only comments to Joe is, “Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant and Dominique Wilkins have never admitted to being tired at playoff time.”

I know he played a lot of minutes but you just can’t give in to such thoughts.

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2009
4:12 am

Folks, the Pearl Harbor thing? That’s a line from “Animal House.” The late John Belushi uttered it.