Round 2, Game 2: Say goodbye to the Atlanta Hawks

Cleveland – It’s over, folks. More than just losing two games, the Hawks have lost players and heart. They’re undermanned. They’re overwhelmed. Soon they’ll be outta here.

This one has sweep written all over it. Yes, a certain series a year ago bore the same look after two distressing road games, and that one went the distance. But Al Horford and Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson weren’t injured then, and these are the Cavs and they’re even more driven than Boston was. LeBron James might not let his team lose a half, let alone a game.

And the Hawks who showed up at Quicken Loans Arena – or, more precisely, didn’t show up – pale alongside the spirited bunch that took Games 3, 4 and 6 from Boston, even alongside the polished crew that saw off Miami in Game 7. In three days here the Hawks managed the difficult task of hurting themselves while taking a dive.

“I don’t know who’s going to dress on Saturday,” Mike Woodson said afterward. And then: “We’ve got to get our main guys on the floor and see what we’re made of.”

Alas, we’ve already seen.The Hawks weren’t going to win Game 2 Thursday without Horford and Williams, but they might have given the appearance of desperation. Instead Josh Smith got two (and then three) early fouls and Johnson managed only three baskets in 22 first-half minutes and by halftime the Cavs led by 24 points, which meant they could have wiped away LeBron’s 18 and still his team would have been ahead.

Two sequences told the grim tale: At the end of the first quarter, LeBron somehow got isolated against poor Solomon Jones. On cue, LeBron whirled past Jones and dunked behind his head.

Flash forward to the shank of the second quarter: The Hawks sought to hold for one shot, though there was a four-second difference between the clocks. They wound up being whistled for a 24-second violation. And LeBron took the ball in backcourt and, from 40 feet away, rose above Mario West and flipped the ball through the hoop.

Obvious point: LeBron can do whatever he wants – he just missed a 45-footer at the end of the third quarter – and the Hawks suddenly can’t do anything. “We need to act like we want to be here,” Johnson had said after Game 1, but almost nobody, Johnson included, has behaved that way.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Said Mo Evans, who led the Hawks with 16 points: “Even if we’d been at 100 percent, I don’t think we could have won playing the way we did.”

And then Johnson got hurt. He was going for a layup against LeBron with the Hawks trailing by 32 points in the third quarter, and he missed the shot and came down wrong and was off to the locker room, and soon he was in a wheelchair. Woodson’s prognosis: “He tweaked his ankle.”

The mighty Cavs might well have been, as they say in England, a bridge too far for the full-strength Hawks. Still, you’d like to have seen more effort, more passion, more something. The belief coming into this series was that the Hawks needed only to avoid being swept to call this season a success, and now even that modest goal seems a forlorn hope.

It’s said a playoff series doesn’t really begin until the road team wins, but these two wipeouts have belied that bromide. The home side rolled. The road team didn’t even stir. This one’s over.

More on me versus the “mayor”: I promise not to belabor this — indeed, I’m hoping soon to forget it ever happened — but here’s an independent (or so I assume) take on what transpired on a certain Cleveland station last night. (For my admittedly self-interested version, click here.)

And, as Lt. Columbo would say, one last thing: My new best buddy Spirit the Hawk Tweeted me late last night. Here was his heartfelt message:

Taking on the entire city of Cleveland solo…you’ve got seriously commendable Spirit, Mr. Bradley!”

175 comments Add your comment

Joe Johnson's Magic Trick

May 7th, 2009
11:53 pm

*disappears*

Matt

May 7th, 2009
11:57 pm

Just ow. You can’t run out the bench guys and expect them to produce like the starters. Do you think we’ll pull one out at home? Also, since you think that this is the end, what do you think that the Hawks may do this offseason? Same old same old (ie: draft a forward and do nothing in free agency)?

James

May 8th, 2009
12:10 am

Joe Johnson has looked flat out scared in this series for the most part he has not shown any leadership and he runs away from the ball. The hawks won the series against the heat but the heat wasn’t all that good so when they faced the cavs they got exposed.

Peter

May 8th, 2009
12:11 am

Joe got his 14 million…..and the Atlanta Spirit runs in the Red……..starts from the top down…….if you can’t run the franchise in the Black………how do you expect to WIN ?

REALBOWLERS.COM

May 8th, 2009
12:11 am

Yes Mark it looks like this series is definitely over….last year series against was a different animal, we had all our starters healthy and personally i think the Hawks matched up better against the Celtics. Who knows with Joe hurt it may spark an emotional push for someone else to step up. I like the way the reserves played hard down the stretch in the 4th quarter, they could have easily mailed it in to get it over with but they didnt. I admired the hustle. We both know the Hawks are a totally different team in Philips Arena and play at a totally different level, they question is whose going to step out? We need at least 4 players to have career nights to compensate for the injuries. Lebron is a beast and he appears determined to get his team back to the conference finals so they can make a push for the Championship. Tell me this, how in the world do a team(Hawks) get blowed out in every road playoff game? Is that heart? coaching? what? Please tell me…..i’m baffled. Inspite of it all i love my Hawks and is very proud of what they’ve accomplished this year, to cap it off though they need to win at least 2 more game and i’ll be satisfied as a fan. No ones stopping the Cavs….not even the Lakers. We must avoid the sweep and fight to extend this series so that the season want end on a sour note. Hopefully we can.

Kevin

May 8th, 2009
12:13 am

Well its time for firein a head coach folks if this is woodson excuse see Ya…Hawks best be lookin for a new coach after this is over and GM is also Can to

Shareef Adul Rahim

May 8th, 2009
12:13 am

Hey i’m not busy..Yall want me back?

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
12:14 am

I wouldn’t mind being wrong about this, folks. (Goodness knows I’ve been wrong about everything else.) But I don’t see the Hawks coming back from this. Not with so many guys hurt.

Richard

May 8th, 2009
12:17 am

What a joke! These Hawks don’t even show up! What an embarassment they are to professional sports. Let’s hope they are swept so we can get a real COACH!

mike28212

May 8th, 2009
12:17 am

Well said Mark, well said.

James

May 8th, 2009
12:18 am

Well Mark the hawks never had a chance from the get go this is the cavs year they are the best in the east. I would love to see the cavs match up against either the lakers or the nuggets in the finals that would be exciting.

Gumbo

May 8th, 2009
12:18 am

That’s OK. This Team is built for the ATL. All style – no SUBSTANCE.

Please don;t change a thing. I’ve made more money on this bunch of losers than I could have ever made legally…….

Mr. Bradley, are you still feeling good about how well this team executes on…..ahem……offense?

I always thought you needed to know something about a subject B4 you wrote about it. Maybe I can get a job with the AJC. Oh, that’s right…….you guys won;t be in business much longer.

BW

May 8th, 2009
12:20 am

This team has been done a while now. This team will never advance past the second round and will suffer 6 or 7 game first round series that will be toss-ups…I think now we have to think about the future composition on this team because this team will be done by Game 5 at the latest. Is Bibby worth (or believes he’s worth) the 15 million he got this year? Acie Law isn’t ready to run the team but Bibby is not the Bibby of the Sacramento era though we would not be in this position without him. Second, we have some huge frontcourt decisions to make…is Horford best served at the center position? Is Marvin worth anything more than vesting his additional year? I think Marvin has been good but has been hurt so much that it’s difficult to gauge whether or not we should give serious money to him. With Horford, I think he should be at the 4 but I believe that Josh Smith, should he develop any med to long range shooting or not, is the best option. Finally…we know JJ isn’t a superstar…therefore what do we do with him when his contract expires next summer? These are all questions that GM Rick Sund gets paid the big bucks to make. I’m glad I’m not in his shoes right now. So long as he does not pull a Babcock in an effort to make the team better, I’m happy. I think the team pull one game but if they don’t in Game 3, they will be swept….what do you think about all this Bradley?

James

May 8th, 2009
12:21 am

The hawks should hire Avery Johnson a good defensive minded coach and they need a real center hopefully they can somehow get hasheem thabeet out of uconn. I always think they should get rid of marvin williams, acie law, speedy claxton, and once joe johnson is a free agent get rid of him also cause joe johnson is soft. I wish the hawks can somehow get stephen jackson back from golden state he plays with heart and passion unlike joe johnson.

jstrick

May 8th, 2009
12:22 am

the problem I keep seeing isn’t the injuries, its the effort. I understand with the injuries they will probably lose, but they don’t look like they even try. I really think the problem starts with Woodson and a lack of a true game plan.

Roland Martin

May 8th, 2009
12:25 am

Hey Hawks, Yall wanna go fishing with me?..I got some good rods for yall to use.

BravesAreDone

May 8th, 2009
12:32 am

Even if everyone was healthy they would have no shot to win more than one game. They are not an elite team…as usual for Atlanta sorry sports teams.

rft

May 8th, 2009
12:41 am

the cavs with Lbj always step up their game in the playoffs. They remind me of the Bulls with Jordan. One superstar surrounded by support players that all buy into the defense first mentality. Their defense is like a swarm of bees and they seem to get to every loose ball. They have desire in their hearts and it shows on the floor. This Cavs team is much more and much better than a sum of its parts. I hope Cleveland gets its due. It has been a long time coming.

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
12:47 am

Thanks, Mike.

I’m a little unclear on just how Mike Woodson lost this game. He has the lesser team and he’s minus two starters and he’s playing an opponent that was 39-2 at home. I don’t think John Wooden could have pulled this one out.

Gumbo

May 8th, 2009
12:49 am

Oh yeah, rft, the Cavs are the first team that comes to mind when I think of PLAYOFF JUGGERNAUTS. Puhleezee. Be thankful they got a 2nd round bye.

jt in dallas

May 8th, 2009
12:49 am

As I have said many times, it’s time to get a real coach in here. Woody is perhaps a great assistant, but he sucks as the head coach. With the talent on this team they should at least compete. Also, when your score is doubled by the other team, how long does it take for any dumb@$$ to realize that it is time to try something else. What’s wrong with trying your bench. And speaking of the bench, why try the guys that you NEVER EVER gave time to in the regular season ahead of the guys that you at least let see some light?
I personally think that Woody’s coaching in this game is highly indicative of his ineptness and inability to lead this team any further than this round. And by the way, the Charlottes and Philly’s are getting stronger and could actually keep this talented team out of the playoffs next year if Wood-dummy doesn’t get his head out of his @$$.
With the team 36 points down in the third quarter, old dumb-dumb (I meant Woody) is still playing his starters. Good gosh, rest em instead of risking an injury for the next game–oops, too late, Joe Johnson already wheeled out.
I would just love to see what these players could accomplish with a good coach. They have done well with this non-coaching fool and I really believe that they are championship material with a coach who knows his @$$ from a hole in the ground.
Go Hawks, in spite of your disadvantage at the head coaching level.

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
12:49 am

Nicely put, RFT. The Cavs are a splendid club. Beautiful to watch. I keep going back and forth as to whether they’re better than last season’s Celtics, and I’m starting to think they (meaning the Cavs) are.

A year ago, Boston was 3-3 after six postseason games. Cleveland is 6-0.

Ted Striker

May 8th, 2009
12:50 am

The Hawks — and yes, the much maligned Spirit — have given casual fans more than they deserve in 2009. When a city doesn’t sellout for the playoffs the city doesn’t DESERVE a round two winner. Peer E Odd.

GA Bulldawg

May 8th, 2009
12:50 am

Just to quote someone from the previous blog because this person too the words right out of my mouth:

“Mike Woodson needs to GO….he just doesnt know how to use his bench..he forced Joe to play a lot of minutes during the regular season and drained him out physically…Dont blame it on Joe..Hes doing all he can…If Woody did a lot of rotations and gave Joe enough rest during the season..he could have been physically sound and a much better competitor.. In my opinion.. Atlanta needs to get a good coach like Flip Saunders..they have great players..we beat all the top teams during the regular season when our players were fresh.Woody is getting on my nerves..Just the sight of that bald idiot makes me wanna punch my neighbour in the face..”

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
12:52 am

As for BW’s series of questions: Every one is valid. Acie Law isn’t ready. Bibby isn’t quite what he was. Joe’s reputation has taken a hit. I disagree a bit on Horford — didn’t the Celtics win with Kendrick Perkins at center? — but only a bit.

Reid Adair

May 8th, 2009
12:54 am

Mark, it was bad to see the significant lack of effort in the game tonight. It was disappointing, to say the least. They weren’t going to win without Horford and Williams – but it would have been nice to see some effort and enthusiasm. The back-ups played like they cared, but they were going against Cleveland’s back-ups.

Joe Johnson has had a lot to say before the Miami series and before this one; unfortunately, he himself has done none of the things he said that the team needed to do. I was very surprised to see how much praise the ESPN commentators were giving him.

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
12:56 am

Mark, I have seen the video. You can take Billy/Bob. The sad thing is the dolt does not understand humour. Insulting the South by saying you work for Waffle House, was dude, lame. I bet if you would have asked him if he would like them scattered, smothered and covered, he would have given you a blank what…., look. You held up well only stumbling on the Hawks/Falcons comment, uhhhh but we were not all made to be tv stars. I guess I should send you my tape, “The best of my Masters interviews”. Soon to be out on DVD with an intro by Larry Munson. Fun swapping jokes tonight, lets play some ball Saturday.

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
1:01 am

Falcons, Hawks, Thrashers — too many birds for me to keep track. But thanks, Cuz.

Thanks to you, too, Reid. Tonight was indeed hugely deflating.

Mitch

May 8th, 2009
1:01 am

Mark, you may disagree with me, but I still think this season was a success, even if the Hawks do get swept.

Wasn’t the goal, one building block at a time? Last year, we made the playoffs after a nine year drought, and took a 66 win team, the eventual champs, to the seventh game. This year, we won the first round, and ran into a Cleveland team that may well win it all. I hope the Hawks can pull out a game at home, somehow, to send this series back to Cleveland, but even if not, it seems to me that we should say, “Nice season, Hawks, see you next year, and hopefully, if everyone’s healthy, we can compete, and get out of the second round.

Mitch

LA from the MIA

May 8th, 2009
1:04 am

come on HAWKS FANS please don’t blame this sweep on injuries,after all the reason you’re still in the playoffs is because of injuries.(D-WADE games 3&4).

GA Bulldawg

May 8th, 2009
1:04 am

Mark, what’s your email address? When I clicked on the email link on your bio page, nothing happens. It just stays on the same page

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
1:05 am

No, I agree, Mitch. The season has been a success. Even so, you’d hate to see it end like this.

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
1:06 am

I have got to change the channel, Sportscenter is killing me/us.

I just turned on the Weather Channel and they started talking about the perfect storm of a High reaching Lebron meeting a cold fronted Hawk team. Disaster. The video showed a demolished Atlanta bench. And one Atlanta player being rolled off in a wheelchair. Georgia Power says they don’t know if they can get them up by Saturday.

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
1:09 am

It’s mbradley@ajc.com. Don’t know why that isn’t working, but you’re right — nothing happens. Sorry.

GA Bulldawg

May 8th, 2009
1:10 am

Thanks. Don’t worry about it

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
1:18 am

Mark, could that mean that your desk has already been cleaned out while you were gone. My first realization that I was unemployed was when my password and e-mail quit working. My bosses said it was a glitch and continue to do that summary of my projects that they requested.

Want My Floor Seats?

May 8th, 2009
1:20 am

OH MY…Yesterday I was dancing around the house. Got 5 floor seats for me and wifee and the 3 boys for Sat night. But they’re too young to see another Home Town Massacre like they did from the 45-yd line of the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl…May scar them for life.

Has there ever been a more two-faced playoff team in ATL sports history? (OK…’96 Braves in World Series) Show up and blow out the Heat…Get blown out by the Heat…Rinse and repeat. Now they just DON’T SHOW UP?!?!

I knew we were in trouble when Marvin was being interviewed in the locker room the other day before either Game 7 Heat or Game 1 Cavs and he said, “I’ll have to see how I’m feeling…” WTF is up with THAT?!?! You SHOULD be feeling like this is THE NBA and it’s PLAYOFFS TIME and you’re making a STINKLOAD of $$$ because of us fans paying $120 a seat, you Freakin LOSER…And you should have your hurt self out on the court GIVING IT EVERYTHING YOU GOT. Otherwise, just GO HOME and watch it on TV.

That’s what I saw from the Hawks FIRST team Tues and Thurs — NO HEART, NO ENTHUSIASM, LITTLE EFFORT, JUST GET ME OFF THE COURT ASAP CAUSE I GOTS THINGS TO DO, Y’ALL KNOW? “NOW YOU KNOW” you’ve been taken when your team doesn’t even want to PLAY FOR PRIDE, something I thought ALL professionals accepted as their code…NOT THESE GUYS.

Now the Hawks SECOND team looked like they were HUNGRY…Something desirable in a Playoff Series. They would’ve shellacked the Hawks starters and probably sent a couple more home in wheelchairs. The Atlanta Spirit just hit a freakin iceberg and they better do whatever it takes to WIN SATURDAY NIGHT…Just one game where the Hawks actually play like they aren’t moving in slow motion or just standing flat-footed watching the Cavs in awe. Just sickening…I need to go throw up again…

Whopper Dawg

May 8th, 2009
1:22 am

We get too high with the wins (last year against Boston) and too lows with the losses (now). But it is obvious that the Hawks can’t compete with the Cavs much less win, and a part of that is coaching whether the Woodson supporters want to admit or not. But it serves to re emphasis my prior posts which is this:

The Hawks have built enough of a nucleus of a team to float in the middle of the pack in the NBA, probably good enough to make the playoffs for the next two to three years but with an early exit, and good enough that the draft won’t be the answer as they will be out of the lottery. The trick is how to how to get over the hump – Will resigning Bibby do it? Nope. Marvin?, (laugh) nope. The trick in the NBA is to be so bad that you are in the lottery and make the correct pick and then build around the superstar – when you miss (Hawks with Paul) – then you may not get back for a while as you have to float gradually to the bottom again UNLESS you have a real astute GM – (Dumars/Detroit/West early/mid in his LA career) – if not, you have to hit the draft correctly in the lottery. Non-lotto picks are not franchise changers. Name a non-mega superstar franchise outside of Detroit (Dumars again) that has won a championship. Yep, can’t do it.

Mark, what say you?

nunna yo bizznezz

May 8th, 2009
1:26 am

IM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT SATURDAY NITE..I THINK THE PLAY OF THE 2ND UNIT CARRIES OVER,AND WE’LL SEE THEM DOING SOME SPOT DUTIES AS WELL..

We’ve got to tap into our reserve energy right now and get it going,” Josh Smith said. “We’re all tired right now. I think every team still playing has to kick it into that extra gear this time of year. That’s just the way it goes in the playoffs.”

WE’RE ALL TIRED RIGHT NOW..I KNEW IT..JOE EVEN TOLD U HE WAS TIRED AFTER U ASKED HIM MR.BRADLEY..

I DON’T HAVE THE STATS,BUT I READ THAT JOE JOHNSON WAS AMONG THE LEADERS IN MINUTES PLAYED THIS YEAR,WITH 39+ PER GAME..

AND DID U ALL SEE WOODY’S BODY LANGUAGE ON THE CLIP OF HIM ON THE AJC WHEN HE WAS ANNOUNCING THAT WILLIAMS,AND HORFORD WERE NOT GONNA BE PLAYING..IF HE DID THAT,CAN U IMAGINE WHAT THE PLAYERS DID WHEN THEY SAW HIM..

PLAYOFF MINUTES IN THE REGULAR SEASON = TIRED LEGS DURING THE PLAYOFFS..
THE INJURIES COULD BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE FOR THESE ATLANTA HAWKS…
WE’RE GONNA SEE OUR FUTURE STARS PLAY NOW,INSTEAD ON AFTER NEXT YEAR..

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
1:28 am

I say floating to the bottom takes too long. Let’s go ahead and sink to the bottom in 2009/2010 and draft the best player we can get.

rft

May 8th, 2009
1:30 am

Gumbo, i never said the cavs were Playoff Juggernaughts. YOU DID. All i said was that the cavs with Lbj always play better in the postseason than they do in regular season. Jordan and the Bulls always did that. For example the Bulls beat cleveland on THE SHOT and went on to win the title even though cleveland had beat them 6 times during the regular season. Playing better in the postseason is a sign of a potential champion.

Mark Bradley

May 8th, 2009
1:35 am

You’re right, Whopper. Unless you’ve got one of the league’s five best players, you need a special blend.

Patrick

May 8th, 2009
1:35 am

Can we stop talking about Josh Smith now? He got totally outplayed at both ends by Anderson Varajao–a player so many around here dismiss as a flopper.

Joe Johnson Speaks Out

May 8th, 2009
1:40 am

Joe has some words about his playoff performance.

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch?e=20090508013124953

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
1:43 am

I saw my ex-wife tonight to give her the monthly chid support check. I asked her what she thought of Manny Ramirez testing positive for taking “performance enhancers”. She told me if I had taken “performance enhancers”, I would not be writing a check every month.

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
1:46 am

Mark, quit it and go out to eat. That fine Cleveland cuisine may not come back anytime soon. Or are you a marked, pun intended, man and need to order room service?

Cursedclevelanddotcome

May 8th, 2009
1:51 am

Hey Mr. Bradley! This is more on your dust-up with the Cleveland television station. I enjoy your blog (seriously!) http://cursedcleveland.com/?p=1218

Cuz

May 8th, 2009
2:09 am

Click on the video. It proves that Clevelandee’s have no sense of humour.

Dave

May 8th, 2009
2:18 am

That might be the poorest coached playoff team I have ever seen….. There is no excuse for that kind of collapse.

Whopper Dawg

May 8th, 2009
2:24 am

Mark,

Glad you agree, so what does Hawk management do? I am thinking that is a column. Resting the laurels on this core and adding “pieces” is a long shot.

The Whopper