Bradley’s Buzz: Is there hope for the Hawks? Next question

How to stop LeBron James

Here, from ESPN.com, is the most fascinating nugget from a series so devoid of fascination that some bloggers have taken to writing about me: In Game 3, the Hawks fared best against LeBron when they didn’t guard him.

According to ESPN, LBJ made five of six shots against Mo Evans, five of seven against Joe Johnson, three of four against Mike Bibby … but only one of five when uncovered! So there’s your answer, Woody. Forget matchups. Forget double-teams. Just let him go. Really, how many more points can he score that way? Didn’t he just get 47 of his team’s 97?

From Paul Newberry’s Associated Press game story — I’ve said it before, but here it is again: Newberry, based in Atlanta, is the best AP writer in the country — is this priceless quote from LBJ: “There’s only a few guys in this league that can get into a zone like that, and I’m blessed to be one of those guys.”

For the record, LeBron is not the best player I’ve ever seen. But he is the second-best player I’ve ever seen. The best would be Zaza Pachulia. (OK, I’m lying about that.) Speaking of whom:

On his highly recommended Hawks blog Hoopinion, Bret LaGree assigns the blame for Zaza’s Game 3 ejection squarely where it belongs — on Zaza. Writes LaGree: “Pachulia’s reaction was completely uncalled for. Saying the right things after the game does not have anywhere near the equivalent value of doing those things during the game.”

(Speaking of Zaza: Perhaps he was just in a rush — the link is from Waiting For Next Year, a Cavs’ blog — to get to this postgame party. And what is it about Atlanta and postgame parties, anyway?)

More LaGree: “I suspect [Saturday] was Atlanta’s best chance to win a game.”

On SI.com, Bill Trocchi offers the same grim outlook: Cavs in four.

And this sobering Game 3 truth from The Human Highlight Blog: “[James] and his teammates came into the ATL and took everyone’s best shot — and still won by 15.”

Not everyone, however, is impressed by Cleveland’s utter domination of these playoffs. As you might expect, the contrarian is Gregg Doyel of CBSsports.com, who believes the Cavs aren’t good enough to win the NBA championship. I would respectfully disagree. I believe these Cavs are better than last season’s Celtics. I believe these Cavs will indeed win it all. But don’t tell any of my friends in Cleveland I said that.

OK, enough about the Hawks

On ESPN.com’s Insider (requires registration), Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus offers a bunch of numbers that suggest the Braves aren’t going to make the playoffs. And which team, per Jaffe’s cipherin’, is apt to take the NL East? The Mets? Nope. The Phillies.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

From whom the Braves just took another road series. Whom the Braves, for all their early underperformance, trail by one game.

And here, from ESPN’s Inside Edge (link requires registration), is a scouting report on Derek Lowe, who’ll pitch against the Mets, who chose not to sign Lowe over the winter, tonight. The Inside pitch: Lowe is inducing fewer ground balls than in seasons past but is striking out more batters.

OK, enough about the Braves

Covering the Falcons’ minicamp for CBSsports.com, Pete Prisco offered this prognosis for the new man Tony Gonzalez: “[He] will win his first playoff game with the Falcons, and he just might help them do more than that.”

More from Pistol Pete, as he’s known in the trade: “I don’t usually condone trading second-round picks for 33-year-old players, but this one I can understand. Gonzalez is a weapon in the middle of the field, which will help [Matt] Ryan grow, but he’s also going to help show the right way for a young team.”

“Nerdish-looking writer” (i.e., me) gets linked!

Take it from a semi-professonal aggregator: It’s a strange sensation when you boot up the ol’ laptop in Cleveland’s ramshackle ritzy airport to find you’ve been aggregated.

Apparently my on-air appearance with the self-appointed Mayor of the City of Champions — I now know his name to be Bill Martin, though I assume he isn’t the Bill Martin who played for Georgetown in the ’80s — was deemed noteworthy by a host of Web sites. I was edified to see myself described as “a nerdish-looking writer” on BallHype and to find the video itself on The Big Lead and CursedCleveland.com and Deadspin, and to find links to said video on SI.com, Fan IQ and USA Today.

I even found my name on the Washington Wizards’ blog Truth About It, which also provided the video found below. A little history: It was compiled by Cleveland comedian Mike Polk, who, according to Cleveland Magazine, received death threats. So apparently I got off easy.

Watch Polk’s video. I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.

108 comments Add your comment

Leland

May 11th, 2009
7:49 am

Dear Mr. MB–maybe, once again. Your pal, Leland

Leland

May 11th, 2009
7:56 am

Dear Mr. MB–thanks for your empathy. In that contribution I made to DOL’s blog, I merely pointed out once again the relation between winning and quiting. There was really nothing new in it. Your pal, Leland.

Leland

May 11th, 2009
7:58 am

Dear Mr. MB–quitting. Your pal, Leland

BA

May 11th, 2009
7:58 am

Terry Pendleton is ok, but Rocket Wheeler should be the next Braves manager, based on name alone-

http://minorsandmajors.com/2009/655/the-cody-johnson-dichotomy

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
8:02 am

Kudos, Leland. Is this twice for you?

MightyQuinn

May 11th, 2009
8:04 am

Man, you’re at work early! Appreciate your diligence to your profession! We will find out one of two things tonight. If the Hawks roll over and die, which I regrettably believe they will, we know they have no heart. If the Cavs coast and “let” the Hawks win, we know they don’t have a killer instinct.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
8:06 am

What can I say, MQ? The storm woke me at 4:30 a.m.

MightyQuinn

May 11th, 2009
8:14 am

Kind of a twist on “Make hay while the sun’s shining” huh?

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
8:17 am

Kind of. But I doubt I’ll be awake much longer.

Mac

May 11th, 2009
8:17 am

Didn’t the Sixers with Moses Malone and Dr. J make a run through the playoffs much like the Cavs are doing now?

MightyQuinn

May 11th, 2009
8:19 am

Mac: That would be Moses and his fo-fo-fo (4, 4, 4) playoff run

Mac

May 11th, 2009
8:22 am

That’s right. Now I remember. Thanks.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
8:24 am

Yes. But they actually went four, five, four. In 1983.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
8:29 am

Interestingly enough — well, interesting to me — Philly won only two of those 12 games by more than 10 points. Cleveland has won seven games (of seven) by 11-plus points.

Tom

May 11th, 2009
8:55 am

http://deadspin.com/5246162/feuding-reporters-briefly-enliven-terrible-cavs+hawks-series

Some of the Deadspin comments:
“America, get to know the a**holery that is Mark Bradley. A truly awful sportswriter.”
“Mark embarrasses Atlanta again…if this guy has kids, then i feel bad for them.”
“I haven’t seen a guy (Bradley) back down that quickly since the last commenter fight.”
“Bill Martin just pwned Mark Bradley. Good for him. F*** Mark Bradley, seriously.”

LOL, you look like a complete moron in that video and it’s great that everyone recognized it.

pensacola dawg

May 11th, 2009
9:36 am

Hawks will lay down they have showed thats what there about!

PMC

May 11th, 2009
9:49 am

Forget playing defense on stars in the NBA. Breath on them… it’s a foul.

Are the Cavs better…. obvioulsly… but NBA officiating is consistanly horrible. The call on Zaza should have been a charge and it didn’t take a replay to see that.

Also in town… why the hell does Don Waddell have a job 10 years after failing to provide a team with enough talent to win EVEN 1 playoff game???????????

It’s professional sports is it not? I get that we are a softball town and people are concerned with offending teams and getting thier credentials pulled, but you don’t even need a credential in this town for the quotes anymore. We’ve lost forever. Ok. The Hawks HAVE NO Superstar. We are UNINTERESTING NATIONALLY as a sports city. That’s why the professional sportscasters on Saturday were absolutely drooling on Cleveland. That’s where the ratings are.

We FINALLY have good people in place it seems like with the Falcons… we had a nice good long run with the Braves even though they came up short 3 times in the WS when they should have closed the series out. The Hawks did have a very good year despite how it’s ending. They Achieved up to thier level even though they should have won saturday night…. they aren’t good enought to beat Cleveland yet. The Thrashers are an abomination unto hockey. All we can do is hope for the best.

As far as city bashing, there are plenty of good and bad things about any city. I would hope tourists are finding the bar districts and nice places to go about midtown though our marketing has been less than stellar since the demise of buckhead. I am quite glad to not have to shovel out my car everyday in the winter to go to work but I’m sure there are plenty of very nice parts of Cleveland too.

Danny

May 11th, 2009
9:54 am

Mark feel special now that he is quasi-famous for a couple of days. With the way the newspaper industry is going, Mark will be a star in no time!

Tony

May 11th, 2009
9:56 am

I love how it’s turned into city bashing. I’m just waiting for some Ohioan to sink as low as the people from Atlanta and start talking Olympic bombing crap.

hawksfan

May 11th, 2009
10:03 am

the bottomline is the Hawks need antoher offensive/defensive weapon in order to go deep in the playoffs and to be able to compete. There may be no I in team but there is and I in LebIron he had 47 points saturday night ball hog the cavs would be nothing without Lebron

Mac

May 11th, 2009
10:04 am

That Philly team was clutch. I was a huge Dr. J fan. And of the two Mo’s (Malone and Cheeks).

Mark, uh, Bra, uh, Bradley

May 11th, 2009
10:06 am

I don’t know which is worse, a fumbling, bumbling Bradley or the Cleveland guy doing his best Letterman- if Letterman wasn’t funny.

Really BAD television. At least the girl anchor was smoking.

NUNNA YO BIZZNEZZ

May 11th, 2009
10:13 am

u know what mark?
they might win tonight.
only if..
1.woodson is fired,lol,just kidding..
but some of these things need to happen..

1.woody and crew change the matchups and put some size up against the cavs fron line..
2.play A low post game against the cavs and get them into foul trouble to open up the drive to the hoop game with An option to pass out for the 3 pointers..
3.BRING JOE OFF THE BENCH!
i’d start flip..joe is tired..joe is not handling the playoff pressure well at all,And he would be more comfortable with less pressure if he were to come off the bench..Ala Andruw jones not bAtting in the cleanup postition..
4.your bench is ready to contribute..lets give them more playing time..
let Acie penetrate the cavs defense to open up the perimeter game more..
have solo in at power forwArd with plAys called for him..
Assign specific one on one mAtchups for marvin to be on jAmes and mArio on williams the entire game..As long as jAmes and williAms Are in,marvin And mArio will be right in there with them..
5.pressure defense when inbounding the ball for the whole gAme,lets go full court press,And sub frequently..

thAts it..
u will not only win this gAme but u will even win gAme 5..its gonnA take them by suprise tonight,and will open up your teAm with the faith that u are not as stubborn as they thought,and you will even chAnge your gAmeplAn for which now u Are not doing..
u are the 2nd coming of greg knapp mr.woodson..

switch up on these cats..
And u,And the fans of atlanta along with mr.bradley,can thank me later..
truly a good friend to All,
mr.nunna yo bizznezz

p.s…if u don’t follow my advice,u will be out of A job come tuesday..
bye

Joseph

May 11th, 2009
10:17 am

Hey Mark, Agree Cleveland is the best this year, but I disagree, totally that ZaZa should not have been upset with yet another bad call. I saw the replay many times and I thought ZaZa was right including getting upset on the other end. We need more consistency from both Hawks and refs alike. This game might have been different without their “let lebron do what he wants” routine.

TROTTINGHOME

May 11th, 2009
10:25 am

HOW TO STOP LABRON???

WAIT TILL THE SEAOSN IS OVER AND HE GOES HOME…ER… WITH A RING.

Here we go again

May 11th, 2009
10:26 am

I agree, The 2009 Atlanta Vs. Cleveland Local Print Media And Television Journalist SmackDown In Lieu Of A Competitive NBA Playoff Series, presented by Fox 8 was really, really anti-climatic. The best line was Mark’s referring to Atlantans’ depression from “all the snow” we’ve gotten this past winter, and it doesn’t even appear that the other dude got the irony.

RFT

May 11th, 2009
10:32 am

Hawks fans should be proud of their team. They have shown growth and have made the playoffs two consecutive times. Building a championship team takes time and effort and maybe some luck in the draft. Unless of course you can obtain great free agents like the Celtics. This championship calibur cavs team was not built overnight. They have experienced loss and frustration and defeat in the past just like the Hawks are experiencing now. Hopefully the Hawks can learn and build from this painful experience like the cavs have.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
10:36 am

Nice catch, Here We Go Again. I was beginning to think everyone missed that one.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
10:37 am

And I don’t think we should be overly critical of this basketball team. It’s up against a demonstrably stronger opponent. There’s no shame in losing to LeBron James’ team. I’m guessing two other clubs will do the same before it’s over.

Dan

May 11th, 2009
10:48 am

We shouldn’t be overly critical? They’ve lost six games by an average of 17.5 points in the playoffs. Joe absolutely refuses to be assertive and be a leader. Bibby refuses to do anything other than shoot threes. Josh Smith refuses to listen to anyone and stop shooting mid-range and deep jump shots. Woodson has zero ability to design an offense to open things up in the half court. This team deserves a ton of criticism and have been exposed as the frauds they’ve proven to be in this series. The Cavs are demonstrably better, Mark, and as demonstrably better teams do, they’ve exposed the glaring weaknesses of its opponent. There is plenty of deserved blame to go around and it’s time for people to stop making excuses.

DZ

May 11th, 2009
10:56 am

Braves: playoff teams do NOT lose series to teams of the caliber of the 09 Nats, Pirates and Astros. I don’t care if it’s in April or September.

Zaza: this time of year, aren’t the refs supposed to be a slight more lenient with their calls. Emotions are high…

Tony Gonzalez: consider this, 96 catches, 1,058 yds, 10 TDs (as many as Roddy & Jenkins combined) and he had the likes of Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle throwing to him. BTW, Alge Crumpler had 1 TD catch last season.

Cleveland: hilarious video. I was in Cleveland around 1992 and went to an Indians game at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Talk about dumps! That city knows it’s priorities: the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs, RnR HOF, keeping the river extinguished, and then everything else.

.

rusty

May 11th, 2009
11:04 am

the hawks play like woodson coaches them,horrible. jj is playing no different then he did through out the season but worse. heis over hyped
,he always dribbles to much we will never have any flow in our offence.
woody let this go on all year, they dont have any offensive. js is not the player he was the last 2 years. this team is giving up, woody has to go

Hohnson

May 11th, 2009
11:11 am

Many people apparently do not know the rules in the NBA. ZaZa got plowed into but he was clearly in the restricted area. You many not like this rule but since it is the rule ZaZa was moronic to complain at all. Here is the rule:

An offensive foul should never be called if the contact is with a secondary defensive player who has established a defensive position within a designated “restricted area” near the basket for the purpose of drawing an offensive foul.

The “restricted area” for this purpose is the area bounded by an arc with a 4-foot radius measured from the middle of the basket.

The key words are “should never be called”

I am friends with people in Ohio and they find it quite enjoyable that Atlanta fans now complain how Lebron travels and gets all the calls, because that’s the exact thing they used to say about Jordan when he dismantled them every year in the playoffs. They feel like the karate kid. He took many beatings from Johnny but in the end he got his revenge with the crane kick. (Johnny really walked right into that in retrospect) Lebron is their crane kick.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:19 am

You are correct, sir. Zaza was indeed in the no-charge zone.

Reid Adair

May 11th, 2009
11:23 am

That Cleveland tour video is hilarious. ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS.

I thought the Hawks had a chance to win Game 3, and they didn’t. Unfortunately, I don’t see any chance of winning Game 4.

That being said, the Cavs are the superior team. Far superior. Much more so than the Celtics were a year ago. Despite what some of the folks here say, I don’t think this team has regressed since last year.

d4dham

May 11th, 2009
11:25 am

Deny Lebron the ball. Assign a player to plant hid nose between the numbers on Lebron’s jersey – on the offensive and defensive ends. Even go to the restroom with him!

alsim

May 11th, 2009
11:27 am

Jordan did travel and get calls all the time – and not just against the Hawks.

some sense

May 11th, 2009
11:27 am

What’s not radical is that Cleveland is way better than the Hawks…e’body knew they were better…now we know they’re way better. A 7′3 guy spotting up all over the floor, smothering defense, a true penetrate and dish PG, SHOOTERS…haven’t even gotten to the monster yet.

So, the Hawks finish the season as fourth best team in the east…incredible improvement…maybe even top eight in the league.

BUT, as the Bard would say, it’s “next level” time in the offseason. Here’s radical…who can and cannot help the team to the next level.

Can:

Josh Smith
Marvin Williams
Al Horford
Mo Evans
Flip Murray
Josh Childress
Coaching staff

Can’t:

Mike Bibby – not a true PG…I like pentrate and dish guys…worse yet, a defensive liability. Getting on up there…let him go.

Joe Johnson – not good enough to be a team’s best player…trade value is good.

Hawks still suffer from what they did two years ago, limitations at 1 and 5.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:38 am

Joe Johnson: Trade value not so good, I’m afraid. He’ll be a free agent after next season.

I agree, Reid. I don’t think the team has regressed at all. It won 10 more games and reached Round 2. Don’t see a regression in that.

All I'm Saying Is...

May 11th, 2009
11:41 am

Mark: Let’s talk about what the Hawks can do to improve for the ‘09-10 season. What legitimate Center can the Hawks sign (or potentially draft) via free agency this year? That’s no knock on ZaZa or Al but Al is a power forward in reality and ZaZa is better suited to be a back-up. We don’t need a superstar just a defensive presence who can score a little (an Erick Dampier type in my opinion). Also, is there an up-tempo point guard out there we can sign (and finally rid ourselves of Speedy) who can come in for Bibby (who I think we should re-sign) and change the pace for us on offense? Finally, what is to be done with Acie Law?

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:43 am

Indeed, check out the free agent class of 2010, as ranked by The Scores Report. It’s pretty impressive.

Mike Woodson

May 11th, 2009
11:45 am

Fire me and get in Allen Iverson

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:48 am

There’s a center who might — I said “might” — be around when the Hawks pick in Round 1. He’s BJ Mullens, who played one season at Ohio State. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds as a Buckeye freshman. He’s 7-foot, 275 pounds.

Now, do I think he’s the answer? I don’t, no. And let’s note that, for all those who complain Al Horford isn’t a center, Rick Sund believes otherwise. He thinks Horford, in today’s NBA, is absolutely a center. And so do I.

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:49 am

Allen Iverson as coach? Now that would be intriguing. “Practice? We’re not talking about any practices!”

Mark Bradley

May 11th, 2009
11:50 am

Oh, and I’d be surprised if Acie is on the roster next season. I think he’ll get traded.

Joseph

May 11th, 2009
11:58 am

I don’t think Horford should be a center and I do think the Hawks need a better dish type PG and a large center. I am undecided if Woody has to go because the team keeps improvin. STILL dont thimnk ZaZa should have been thrown out of the game. Reffeing needs help too!

Westurd

May 11th, 2009
12:03 pm

This core of this team (Joe, Josh, Marvin, Woody) have done too much loosing together….we have to make some moves and bring in some more heart and winning attitudes……….

Ohio_Cool_Cat

May 11th, 2009
12:03 pm

Pull out the brooms b/c the L-train & company are going to roll over Atlanta Hawks…i mean Pigeons!!! your players might as well have their bags packed, locker cleaned, some warm houseshoes, a robe, and a bowl of popcorn b/c they are going to be at home watching the playoffs at home. Make sure to have the DVR on to “Witness” a championship.

PMC

May 11th, 2009
12:10 pm

sorry I got it wrong. Thanks for the rules lesson though. Now I know.

MrHughes

May 11th, 2009
12:14 pm

I agree with the arguement that we are being overly critical of the Hawks. The Cavs are the perfect storm right now. The Mo Williams signing for them was more signifigant than us getting Murray or Evans. He’s the best pickup any team made in the NBA this year. He’s been huge for them. Also, you are talking about the MVP and coach of the year. They lost one game at home out of forty-two! That’s the epitome of dominance. They win by 15 at home. It’s hard to take that team to 7 games. LBJ was fantastic Sat.

As for the Hawks offensive sets… The Cavs are the best half court defensive team in the NBA. The Hawks best chance is pushing the ball and getting fast break points off of their own defense stops. That worked in the first half of game 3 and until the wheels fell off after Zaza’s ejection.

Speaking of Zaza, the calls in this series have been ridiculos. I understand LBJ is an MVP. But, its sad to see the Hawks get called for breathing on people while our guys get mugged on the other end of the floor. Star treatment is star treatment, but their should be some level of fairness. I think the Hawks will rise up tonight and play well. This team has heart. Hopefully tonight they make the plays. This is all part of our maturation. The only thing I hate is that we are basically three starters down because of all the hurt folks and Cleveland is not getting our best shot. But, that’s good because it’s a motivator for next year. Next year we can shoot for the conference finals if we continue to improve. It is what it is.

Above all, I love the job Mike Woodson has done with this team. Anyone talking about him getting fired after tonight just doesn’t get it.