The Hawks haven’t grown up, and now they’re in trouble

Turns out there is something to do in Milwaukee, Josh. Lose twice. (AP photo)

Turns out there is something to do in Milwaukee, Josh Smith. Lose twice. (AP photo)

Milwaukee – Remember the Hawks? Leading a playoff series 2-0 since 1970? They’re not leading anymore. They’re tied with a team minus its center. They’re tied and they’re reeling. They might still win this series, but there’s no longer a guarantee.

One misstep at Philips Arena and the East’s No. 3 seed will be relegated to the dustbin of playoff flops. Because we can’t really see these Hawks winning on the road in any round of any postseason, can we?

Give the Hawks a smidgen of credit. For a change, they made the home team work. They were down three after one quarter, down four at the half. They’d done what a road team needs to do: They’d given themselves a chance. Then they threw it away.

They threw it away in a wretched third quarter, in which the Milwaukee Bucks spread out the Hawks and sliced them to confetti. And let’s say it again: The Bucks have no center, and they have a rookie for a lead guard, and they have journeymen like Kurt Thomas and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Carlos Delfino not just in their rotation but in their starting five. And they’re now tied with the Hawks, who have …

Two All-Stars. A third guy who should have been an All-Star, and a fourth who’ll soon be named the NBA’s best sixth man.

But here’s your difference: The Bucks play in a way that maximizes every part and the Hawks, at least when outside the Perimeter, play in a way that minimizes their resources. Some of it is coaching — Milwaukee’s Scott Skiles has worked a nice series — but more of it is simply the nature of these Hawks.

They don’t like it when it gets messy. They don’t react well when the opponent spaces the floor and forces bigger men to guard quick guards. They do it anyway, but in the two games here they’ve done the switching thing so poorly that they’ve blown their chance to make quick work of a diminished opponent. They’re in a real fight now, and the Bucks believe they’re every bit a match for the presumed heavyweight.

Back to that third quarter: The Hawks came out of the dressing and yielded two quick layups to John Salmons. The Bucks would make seven layups in the period. This is in the playoffs, where the motto of every defense is supposed to be, “No layups.” But the Hawks kept allowing the smaller opponent driving lanes, and this is one team that knows how to find the open man when he’s cutting to the hoop.

A four-point halftime deficit became an 11-point hole in 12 minutes. The Bucks scored 31 points in the third quarter, making 12 of 19 shots. (It’s easy to shoot 63.2 percent when you’re shooting from two feet.)

The Hawks made it interesting in the fourth period, but this team should be beyond the point where we praise it for not quitting. The Hawks won 53 games this season. This is their third playoff run. They should be all grown up.

Alas, they’re not. They still do the silliest things. Josh Smith got into it with the officials early and was never himself. He scored 20 points, but they were jump-shot points, disjointed points. Al Hoford got two early fouls and finished with four baskets before fouling out. Mo Evans lifted the Hawks with his defense but shot them out of it at the other end. (He took seven shots, missing five.)

And Mike Woodson took the better players and again allowed the opponent to control the game. He got Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby going in tandem, and it didn’t matter. Because the Bucks are making the Hawks pay for deploying Bibby and Crawford, neither of whom is a strong defender, and those mismatches out front have leveled what seemed a lopsided series.

Yes, the Hawks can still win. Yes, they should still win. But they’re facing another trip to Josh Smith’s favorite city and their margin of error has been reduced to nothing, and there sits Orlando, already in Round 2.

This is not the way a grown-up team handles Round 1. If the Hawks don’t grow up fast, they might not see Round 2.

179 comments Add your comment

David

April 26th, 2010
11:29 pm

The problem with the Hawks is that in their minds, their season was made when they swept the Celtics.

Gilley

April 26th, 2010
11:33 pm

I dont mind us losing on the road. But I didnt want us to get blown out. But we could have won this game…but we couldnt consistently play good defense. Joe Johnson is playing for his contract and doing quite well. But we are not worthy to play the Magic and have no chance to win playing like this. Can we just turn it on and off against an elite team? NO. We can’t even do it against the lowly Bucks who have Carlos Delfino going off on us. Unacceptable. I understand why the media take us for a joke. We are underachievers. Now I know we’re going to win at home and we all will be happy again but we have to go back to Milwaukee and win on the road. 1-10 is terrible. Mike Woodson is outta here next year.

Big L

April 26th, 2010
11:35 pm

Anybody still wondering why Woodson’s cotract has’nt been re-upped. They play like they are coached. Underwhelmingly.

J.J.M.

April 26th, 2010
11:36 pm

same hawks…sorry mark im done with this team

GT3O

April 26th, 2010
11:36 pm

Third?

Is there a kudos for third? Especially since no one claimed first?

Oh yeah, Mark the Braves just lost…again. Good night in Atlanta!

I went to the Rockies game yesterday and they had only one guy in the line-up, other than the pitcher, who was hitting less than .200. After watching the Braves, I was not used to that.

TheAntiMe

April 26th, 2010
11:37 pm

Two main differences between these teams:

1) The Bucks play defense for 4 quarters. The Hawks play defense only when they feel like it, which isn’t very often.

2) The Bucks coach Scott Skiles has successfully made adjustments throughout the series to counter what the Hawks were initially able to do to hurt his team.
The Hawks coach Mike Woodson has refused to make any adjustments, whatsoever, during this series especially on defense – such as going away from the switches that aren’t working or maybe double teaming Brandon Jennings since no one player on the Hawks has been able to guard him. And people say that Bobby Cox is stubborn.

Keith B

April 26th, 2010
11:40 pm

The Bucks deserve a TON of credit for pulling even. as Mr. Bradley noted, on paper the starting 5s favors ATL by a mile, maybe 2 miles.

I sure am glad they aren’t playing this series on paper.

Fear the Deer

RMT

April 26th, 2010
11:41 pm

..what do the Hawks do in practice ? ..

The Grinch

April 26th, 2010
11:41 pm

Hopefully Woodson is gone next year, but unfortunately Joe Johnson will be too. And the rebuilding process begins again…

hector

April 26th, 2010
11:43 pm

Hahahahahahahahaha I finally found the hawks blog……… feer the deer b!+@&s…….. go home hawks go home hawks go home hawks…….. well if u guys want to keep it going come visit us at jsonline.com/sports/bucks/

If the bucks win at atlanta, the series will be over in the bradley center. For shure. And oh, hawks fans don’t get too exited if you guys win the series. Idk if you guys forgott but our MAIN piece of the puzzle is out. His name is andrew bogut. A player wich the hawks could not stop all season long. Good luck to you

Tired

April 26th, 2010
11:44 pm

Keith B—The Bucks don’t deserve any credit. The Hawks do what they have been doing the past 3 years, which is choking on the road. I saw this coming just like everyone else. They’ll win the series then get embarrassed by Orlando.

Peter

April 26th, 2010
11:45 pm

Mark they won the first two games here, and really they shouldn’t have been so close as they were……both games the Buck’s fought to get back in the games after being down big time……

That should have given you a clue……. they are still missing pieces, like a legit small forward, a Big with a presence, and a legit point who can guard, and dish.

NYCmatt

April 26th, 2010
11:45 pm

Ugly game. Sorry I asked the Village Pourhouse guys to switch the channel for me. Atl looked slow, plays were run with no inspiration, enough bricks dropped to build everyone in that frigid wasteland a fireplace. Hate to say it, but maybe we need to let Joe go and get a real star that’ll keep people motivated on the road.

Big L

April 26th, 2010
11:46 pm

We need some heart and fire. Let Joe go and bring in D Wade. More money will be made and Atl will be loud as hell. This is not immaturity, this is a could care less attitude from a team that has earned nothing and does not try hard.

Biff Pocoroba

April 26th, 2010
11:47 pm

It looks like Paul Hewitt is coaching now. The team wants to shoot jump shots instead of going inside where they should dominate.

Missisppi Dawg

April 26th, 2010
11:47 pm

A better effort than game 3 – but still got out-coached and out hustled again. And can someone please explain to me why when I tune in for an NBA playoff game, why in the world do I have to listen to Bucks announcers on the “NBA Network” ??? That was frustrating!!!

Peter

April 26th, 2010
11:47 pm

D Wade won’t come here…..the ownership is the reason !

FloridaHawk

April 26th, 2010
11:47 pm

I was thinking the same thing “Big L”…

JSS

April 26th, 2010
11:48 pm

TOLD YOU SO! This is not Woodson, this on the players! You don’t change DNA in the middle of the series. Marvin Williams and Al Horford have gone Casper! Poof! It does not happen to mature teams… JJ, Crawford and Smith showed up… Everything that I said had to happen on the road to win did not fall into place. Now, you’re in a best of 3 dogfight! You better have a big set of huevos!

E

April 26th, 2010
11:48 pm

Makes you wonder what would be happening if Bogut was available to play

Peter

April 26th, 2010
11:49 pm

e……. I think the Hawks would have split at home……and be down 1-3.

FloridaHawk

April 26th, 2010
11:50 pm

Actually Big L, my first post referred to yours, but I also agree with your second post as well!

Keith B

April 26th, 2010
11:50 pm

Tired: You are simply ignorant. The Bucks outplayed ATL. Simple enough

Al Einstein

April 26th, 2010
11:50 pm

“The first two times [in the playoffs], especially when we first got in, we was new we didn’t understand things about the playoffs and the postseason,” Josh said. “We was just playing with a lot of momentum at home. We didn’t really know what to do on the road. Last year we still was young but we had the depth that we needed and we had the maturity and growth that we needed to be able to win games on the road”

And the Bucks….they haven’t been to the play-offs in what…eight years? They have no center, a rookie point guard, and maybe, just maybe, Josh Smith and his team might learn next year how to win games in the play-offs. That would be about on schedule, huh Josh? What a bunch of over talented under achievers…….FEAR THE DEER………and any AAU team as long as it’s a road game in the play-offs.

SickandTired

April 26th, 2010
11:52 pm

I just simply want to see one of our big men lay Jennings out cold when he comes floating in the lane shooting those fall away acrobatic shots. Nobody has laid the wood to that kid yet and until somebody does he’s gonna continue to float in there like he just got of the tattoo chair and he’s certainly used to that and comfortable. Lay him out.

Tired

April 26th, 2010
11:57 pm

Wow, really calling someone ignorant on a basketball blog? Wow. Anyway, like I said the Hawks lose these types of games, they Bucks didn’t beat them. If you knew anything about Hawks basketball over the past 3 years, then you would know what I am talking about.

sportdog

April 26th, 2010
11:59 pm

i admire the job Mike Woodson’s done in rebuilding a wreck but these last two games have proven he can not lead this team to the title. there is too much talent for this series not to have been a sweep

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2010
12:00 am

Sorry to have stepped away. Tight deadline on the ol’ 8:30 p.m. tip.

The Hawks are not devastated. They still think they’ll win. But they know they’re in for a long slog now. Forget about getting in and getting out.

The Bradley Kiss of Death

April 27th, 2010
12:00 am

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2010
12:01 am

Yep. I did pick that, didn’t I?

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2010
12:02 am

I called home after the game. I told my younger daughter I really thought the Hawks would win tonight. She said: “Why would you think that?”

She had me.

Denver Hawk

April 27th, 2010
12:02 am

82 games is a long time to wait for this kind of flop – again… any team that plays like this should be lining up after hours to study film, practice, ANYTHING, with Coach Woodson, who has BEEN to the finals as a coach before!!! Instead they tweet and hang out and say they’re bored – they probably even secretly blame the coach! well, the fans are the ones getting bored now – with THEM…

hawksfan

April 27th, 2010
12:04 am

Mark you should be fired. why you still write for the hawks?? I’ll never understand that

Missisppi Dawg

April 27th, 2010
12:04 am

Hey Hector – enough with the “we don’t even have Bogut crap”…he’s not Dwight Howard…if you can’t replace 15 ppg with someone on your NBA bench then you are woefully unprepared for an 82 plus game schedule..If Gasol went down do you think the Lakers would start making excuses…no they would trot someone else out there and still expect to win…..Beer!, not Bogut is the best thing to come out of Milwaukee….Keep brewing it :)

Peter

April 27th, 2010
12:05 am

Mark……WHEN… is Marvin going to earn his Money ?

RC in ATL

April 27th, 2010
12:05 am

Big L, I think you’re right on track. I think Hawks will have to beat Orlando now for Woddy to be extended. If they had closed out the Bucks in 4 or 5, and then were competitive in Round 2, maybe he would have been extended…at least a couple of years.

I really believe this ownership group and management is looking at this team’s performance in the playoffs over the regular season. To be honest, so should all of us.

This team, while beating Miami last year, has not taken many steps forward once the regular season ended. I would not be surprised to see a new guy on the Hawks bench come October. And maybe it’s time.

So what are the chances the Hawks let JJ walk and go after Wade or one of the blue-chippers?

Peter

April 27th, 2010
12:06 am

Mark do you talk with Marvin ? What does he think of his personal production ?

Peter

April 27th, 2010
12:07 am

The ownership group is a fragmented as the team…….. each is a reflection of the other.

bowman

April 27th, 2010
12:07 am

Tone at the top. The problem has been and continues to be Mike Woodson. How does a team with a 2-0 series lead get blown out in the first quarter? Lack of mental preparation. Who’s in charge of this issue? The head coach. Too late to salvage this season but the future still looks bright… with a different head coach. Lots of talent has been squandered in getting to this point, and lots of talent is being squandered today. The solution: a new head coach. Simple. Why has no one pulled the trigger to ignite this team to the next level? Do it. Now.

bowman
– -
“Art will always be Art.” – Goethe

Mel Kiper

April 27th, 2010
12:08 am

Hey Mark if the hawks lose the series is woody in the unemployment line

tree rollins

April 27th, 2010
12:08 am

I think these Hawks are going to get back home and blow out these pesky Bucks. The problem is the Bucks are such a nothing team that the Hawks relaxed a bit and took them for granted. They’re already aiming for the Magic. But this wake call is all they needed and Mike Woodson will have these guys foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs at the Highlight Factory. Watch the Hawks win by 30 in the next contest and begin putting the final nails in the coffin for the Bucks. Orlando – here we come (and we won’t take YOU for granted)!!

tree rollins

April 27th, 2010
12:10 am

Sund has all but assured folks that Woody will be back with the Hawks leading the charge next year.

RC in ATL

April 27th, 2010
12:11 am

Hope you’re right Tree!

MrHughes

April 27th, 2010
12:11 am

i would give my left nut to see Wade in a hawks uniform

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2010
12:11 am

The Hawks didn’t take Milwaukee for granted tonight. They just got beat.

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2010
12:12 am

Marvin was gone by the time I got to the locker room, Peter. But he was awful.

RC in ATL

April 27th, 2010
12:13 am

Hawks need a vocal and charismatic leader. JJ was great to bring the team to competitiveness and maybe a step beyond. But the championship teams never stand pat. They always tweek the roster and upgrade wherever and whenever possible. We cannot think this team is going to get much better without making some moves.

Mr. Hughes, how good would the Hawks look with Wade and Childress?

RC in ATL

April 27th, 2010
12:15 am

Let me clarify Tree, I hope you are right about the Hawks coming back to win the series, not bring back Woody. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Woody has to go. But this roster needs tweaking.

Seen-a-lot

April 27th, 2010
12:16 am

Come on ASG, speak up!! Bad ownership. The Hawks will always be what they are as long as this group own the team. Change players,change coaches.The only owner that knew that was to much money to give to a guy (JJ) you can never built a CHAMPIONSHIP around was sent packing. Cuban will learn that with Dirk.Just because a guy can score is only part of what you need to built a championship around. Bad decision with resigning Marvin

Peter

April 27th, 2010
12:18 am

Mark…….. I have seen him in the sandy Springs Pet’s Mart…….he looked soft there !

Does he lift weights ?