We say it again: The Hawks really did flub a big fat chance

This is Chris Bosh. He's hurt. (AP photo)

This is Miami's Chris Bosh. Guess what? He's hurt. (AP photo)

As noted, the Hawks tripped over a splendid opportunity to reach the Eastern Conference finals. But, even had they gotten there, they wouldn’t have been expected to win the Eastern Conference finals. You had to figure Miami’s Big Three would have been too big.

Update: Miami’s Big Three is down to two, and the Heat just lost Game 2 at home to the Indiana Pacers. Meaning: The Hawks might have had a better chance in the ECF than we’d have thought.

Run the (depleted) numbers: In Round 1 the Hawks had the homecourt edge over Boston, which was without Ray Allen for Games 1 and 2 and Rajon Rondo for Game 2 and which saw Paul Pierce hurt himself in a shootaround before Game 4; in Round 2 they’d have faced eighth-seeded Philadelphia, which beat Chicago after Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah got hurt, and if they’d won Round 2 they would have faced either Miami, suddenly without Chris Bosh, or Indiana, which nobody really fears.

Oh, and this, too: Al Horford returned in Game 4 of Round 1 after a 3 1/2-month absence, and the Hawks thought Zaza Pachulia might have been ready for Round 2. And we’re being reminded on a nightly basis that the 2012 NBA playoffs are less about excellence than about who’s fit to play.

As we know, Round 2 and the Eastern Conference finals were rendered moot points when the Hawks lost to Boston in six games (after winning Game 1 and leading Game 2 by 11 points). The notion of what might have been hurt, and it will keep on hurting with every wobble by the Celtics (who lost Game 2 of Round 2 at home to Philadelphia after having to steal Game 1) or the Heat (who are tied headed to Indianapolis for Games 3 and 4) or anybody still standing.

For decades we’ve been noting that the Hawks, in addition to being not quite good enough, have never been very lucky. Had they been good enough this time, they’d have had the wind at their backs. I guess you’d have to say that’s the story of their lives: They finally get lucky and it still doesn’t matter.

By Mark Bradley

126 comments Add your comment

crose714

May 16th, 2012
7:12 am

Morning Mark! You are up early, but right on with this one!

Mark Bradley

May 16th, 2012
7:13 am

Morning, crose714. And kudos to you.

crose714

May 16th, 2012
7:17 am

I would have commented earlier but JS scared the fire out of me with his article on the Braves having to make a decision regarding Brian McCann. Yikes!

AlpharettaGuy

May 16th, 2012
7:18 am

some sense

May 16th, 2012
7:18 am

They will tell us that they’re going into next season with:

Josh Smith playing in a contract year.
Healthy Horford and Pachulia.
An improved Jeff Teague.
Finally figuring out how to use Marvin Williams…as a sixth man.
Salary relief by dropping Hinrich(?).
A decent (i. e. rotation) player in the draft.
Still relatively young while other top teams are aging.
A coach who inspired forty wins w/ a patchwork roster.

Do we buy this???

crose714

May 16th, 2012
7:22 am

I can’t even understand why “I do buy it” but for some reason, I do. I think the Hawks will be factor in the East next year. Healthier and hungry. The constant optimist I guess.

AlpharettaGuy

May 16th, 2012
7:23 am

Going further in the playoffs may have been bad for the Hawks, giving them false confidence they were making progress past being a first-round playoff loser. As Barkley noted, they need to ‘bust it up.’ A) get a new coach B) hang on to core of Josh, Al & Jeff C) think ‘moneyball’ by finding a guy or two who can really play if given a chance but is buried on someone’s bench. All easier said than done but that’s my two cents.

crose714

May 16th, 2012
7:27 am

The Braves didn’t make any major changes and look great. The Falcons have decided to follow suit and not make any major player changes which, I believe, will be the right decision. I think the Hawks need to follow suit. One more year, lets see what happens.

Rick Sund

May 16th, 2012
7:39 am

The Portland Trailblazers, I mean Atlanta Hawks, have so much UPSIDE!

SimpleDawg

May 16th, 2012
7:41 am

The Atlanta Sparrows will never win big with their current Ownership, Head Coach, and Roster.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Whiskey Breath

May 16th, 2012
7:41 am

Jeff isn’t going to like this. Has he seen your article, or has he been on vacation? I don’t think he approved of this. You do realize the old MB was probably the best reporter the AJC ever had. Jessie was right there with you, but you were one reporter people could count on. When you going back to telling the home team what it want’s to hear? Anyway, it sure is nice to know the talent is still there.

Hawker1

May 16th, 2012
7:45 am

the hawks got hosed by the refs or they would have beat boston! larry drew and the owners need to file a protest with the league!!

Paddy

May 16th, 2012
7:55 am

Hawker1………the refs beat us, sounds like a 12 yr old! Stop it already!

AlpharettaGuy

May 16th, 2012
7:56 am

The Hawks did get hosed but was Drew out at mid-court screaming about that call? Nope. And with 5 second left or whatever & one play to win or tie the game, when the camera did the closeup of Hawks huddling, Josh & Teague & Joe were talking more than Drew. They left the huddle & the players were still talking, figuring out they play that they apparently drew up instead of the coach. Drew may not be a terrible coach but he’s at best average & the Hawks need more than that.

Buddy Grizzard

May 16th, 2012
7:58 am

Please post a beat blog AJC. We wanna talk Hawks and that’s where we do it. Glad Bradley is still talking Hawks as of May 16th but there’s about 100 of us and we only chat on the beat blog.

O'Brien

May 16th, 2012
7:58 am

Mark,

I always thought the ceiling of this team is the second round. So the fact that we didn’t even get to the second round this year is a step back (imo). Unfortunately, we have over $61 mil committed to 6 players next season (projected salary cap of $58 mil). So what can we do?

I would like to see the Hawks make some roster moves. But as we know, they are in love with their core, and will probably use injuries as an excuse this season.

Well, we saw the Falcons and Braves stand pat (as far as player changes go). But the Falcons brought in a new OC, a new DC, and new O-Line coach. The Braves brought in 2 new hitting coaches. Hawks need to follow suit (especially if we bring all the players back). Let LD go, and bring in an established veteran coach (Jerry Sloan maybe?) to see if he can shake things up.

Since the coach’s salary does not count towards the salary cap, ASG needs to pony up for a coaching change.

jlewis

May 16th, 2012
7:59 am

Jeff:

Do you actually believe the NBA was going to let the Hawks beat the Celtics? I’ve been around a long time, the whistle prevents this, note, bad calls, the celtics holding and setting illegal picks all series. Also, you talk about who was out for the Celtics, the hawks played games without no inside presence, injuries hurt the hawks. People kill Joe, but go back and watch the games and observe Teague, he is not a good point guard, he doesnt know when to pass and when to score. In the tough stretches of games, he couldnt get them in the offense and is a terrible passer. You cant build around Josh and Teague, or Horford, but you cant blow it up.

O'Brien

May 16th, 2012
8:00 am

Buddy,

I suggest sending MC an email as well. They shut down the Fan blog last season, and now they can’t even leave the Hawks beat blog open…SMH

Doug

May 16th, 2012
8:10 am

I was hoping for a 8 reasons why the hawks squandered this opportunity!!

Email Profiling Is Wrong

May 16th, 2012
8:10 am

NBA officiating is the most blatantly subjective of any major sport. How else can you explain the foul shot advantage the home team enjoys almost every game?

The league’s “star” system ignores the transgressions of marquee players and awards foul shots to them like they’re a perk negotiated in the last labor agreement.

The NBA’s elite talent expect the preferential treatment too. They consider repeated chances from the charity stripe every game to be an entitlement.

Anybody who thought the refs were gonna call a straight game in Boston – when the Hawks were the opposition – is extremely naive.

GT

May 16th, 2012
8:14 am

Some of Josh Smith’s long distance shots are still in the air.

There is rumor next year the Hawks are cutting their payroll and just keeping Teague and Smith. Teague throws the ball in Smith shoots. Josh is a little slow learning the new offense and already whining that Teague is getting too much time with the ball.

Really?

May 16th, 2012
8:15 am

@AlpharettaGuy –bust it up… are you really ready for that?
When we last did it that year we won 13 games… want that again?
The next year we won 26 if I remember correctly? want that again?
and after busting it up, this is where we are now… want that again?
Really?

BravesFan79

May 16th, 2012
8:23 am

I was thinking the same thing just last night after watching the Pacers beat the Heat. The Heat arent the same without Bosh, and will NOT win a title this year!

SWAT Native

May 16th, 2012
8:28 am

I think that one thing that people forget is that the one team that really seemed to have the Hawks number this season was the Sixers. Would it really have been better to get to the second round and get swept by the 8th seed? I would have rather played Chicago without D. Rose than play the Sixers.

I also want to agree with the several posters that the league did not want to see the Hawks win this series and you saw that in the officiating. But, the Hawks still came much closer to winning this series than it seemed. Even the league admits the refs blew that call at the end of game 6, which I think cost the Hawks the game. And if the Hawks win game 6, there’s no way the Celtics would have won game 7 in the Highlight Factory.

godzilla

May 16th, 2012
8:29 am

Assuming makes a arse outta you.

Rickster

May 16th, 2012
8:30 am

Hey Mark. Make sure you save this column for future use. All you’ll need to do is change the name of the opponent.

AlpharettaGuy

May 16th, 2012
8:33 am

It all depends on what your goal is. If it’s to make it to the second round of playoffs, keep what you have. Bust it up doesn’t have to mean going backward. As I said, easier said than done because you’d really need to move Joe & Marvin & somehow gain a couple of players who fit better–a true center to send Al back to 4 spot and a shooting guard.
I just don’t see the current cast of characters going past round 2, if that.

Sammy Hagar

May 16th, 2012
8:33 am

The Hawks need a consistent scorer like Durant,Kobe,Lebron,Duncan,etc. Joe Johnson gets paid like a scorer but he is 2nd tier.

BravesFan79

May 16th, 2012
8:33 am

Josh Smith took more long 2’s this season than anyone in the NBA besides Kobe.
Anyone who dosent see this as a problem is fooling themselves! Do we blame Josh for not having a very high basketball IQ, or do we blame the coach for having him in the wrong places on the floor, and not jumping down his throat enough when he takes horrible shots!? I say both.
Even tho i think Drew is decent, this fact alone proves we need a new head coach! Im in favor of Jeff Van Gundy, or even Stan Van Gundy after hes let go in the dwight howard soapopera. Both are excellent, emotional coaches who will jump down the refs throats on missed calls like in the last 4 seconds of the Boston game. (speaking of, isnt that what instant replay is for! ) The Hawks get that 1 tech shot and the ball out of bounds, and its a different game! And wed probably of seen the Hawks vs Spurs for the NBA title.

HawksFanSince'89

May 16th, 2012
8:37 am

Restructure Joe Johnson contract, keep your core players Josh, Jeff, and Al, and go out and get a true big center, and maybe another guy who slash down the middle.

Sammy Hagar

May 16th, 2012
8:38 am

J.Johnson not scoring 25ppg is why the Hawks lost.

godzilla's mom

May 16th, 2012
8:43 am

If if’s and but’s were candies and nuts

doc

May 16th, 2012
8:58 am

mark what gives you the notion the hawks could have beaten the sixers who demolished them in the regular season? horford? nah, theyy would figure a way to implode and lose like they did games two and six. sorry, i dont think this team is strong enough mentally to win.

doc

May 16th, 2012
9:04 am

buddy i sent an email, got a rather terse reply but never addressing why the blog got shut down during the climatic point of the year. it wont hurt to send one i imagine just dont expect much in return.

dmr

May 16th, 2012
9:16 am

Love reading the AJC online. The story about the “BLOWN CALL IN GAME 6″ keeps appearing. Focusing on that blown call is like focusing on a QB throwing an INT for a TD, when his team loses by 40 points. IT WASN’T GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! The Hawks blew GAME 2 at home and I could go on and on. THE HAWKS DON’T HAVE THE TALENT OR THE HEART OVERALL TO BE GREAT!

GT

May 16th, 2012
9:23 am

SWAT Native has a point. I think the northeast crowds really get under the Hawks skin, because they come down here and take over Phillips too. I notice Philly swamps the National games in Washington for baseball like that. It plays with these kids immature minds, if they can’t coach it our of them. And the refs do give these blue blood franchises the calls which for a guy like Smith is a shutdown point. He will start that pouting and wanting to bring the ball down the court himself and not getting back on defense. Teague is not a bad point guard, Smith makes him look like one. A player like Michal Jordon would love this atmosphere and find great humor in it, a also run like Smith pouts. That is the difference between the champion and the rest.

doc

May 16th, 2012
9:27 am

mark for a few dollars more? kmart or r evans would have helped the thin “bigs” even before decimation in evans and certainly needed as the season wore on. owners are committed to a bottom line it seems and not risk takers. they quickly blame everyone else.

this is the second year they lost an opprtunity to go further. woody’s last team neededa few more parts like a big that was capable. a few dollars more that year and we could have been in championship instead of orlando. we rolled over because of it mentally and woody wasnt up to it.

so mark, my hypothesis ywo years we were close but it is going to take ownership willing to lead and put it out there it is about winning. only owners in the history of atlanta sports to take that approach is ted and arthur. arthulr knows you have to sell excellence on the field before fans will come. these owners expect you to show up no matter what out of civic obligation.

KevinM

May 16th, 2012
9:29 am

Too many people here thinking the Hawks had a shot at the ECF. Well, when have they beat a team better than them in a series? Boston is a better ‘team’. They know their roles, they play together much better than what we saw here this year.
Joe had lapses, Josh wastes plenty of possessions on his own whether its a turnover or not…a bad shot is a turnover in the NBA, and they really didn’t want Teague to lead this team.

Let me tell you what I saw with Kentucky this year…they gave the ball to their PG in their 1/2 court game. Their PG’s name was Teague. The other guys played their roles. To me, its really that simple. So instead of telling his big men to give up the ball before something goes wrong, LD supports his big men in the open court. You give the PG the ball in the 1/2 court. Why is this hard to understand?

I don’t like our makeup on this team, 40 wins or not. They didn’t prove they could produce down the stretch, or against a better team. Yes, we won some games against teams over .500, but way too upside down to get any respect from the media.

There is no way this team had enough to win 8 playoff games against the competition they were facing. I think Philly would have drilled us and Miami can beat us without superstars.

Its all a mirage folks. The Hawks have no identity. There are pieces in place, but this team as we know it has peaked.

If you havent’ heard, there is a rumor that Portland actually might have interest in LD. http://portlandtribune.com/sports/story_2nd.php?story_id=133713759290947700

So, based on rumors today, if you had to lose one or the other, would it be Sund or LD? I would vote for Sund IMO, becuase he has made mistakes that will cost this franchise for the next 3 years. We are so limited in flexibility because of 2 guys who aren’t leading us.

KevinM

May 16th, 2012
9:31 am

Let me specify the 2 guys who were brought in here to lead us……#2 and #24.

Thanks Mark for keeping open a blog for Hawks’ supporters.

Darkhorse

May 16th, 2012
9:38 am

If you blow anything about this franchise up, blow up ownership first. Then you may actually start to get somewhere.

STRETCH

May 16th, 2012
9:39 am

dmr,

I think they had the talent, they just didnt have th heart and smarts.

drmaryeb.(*_*).

May 16th, 2012
9:46 am

Shout Out to Mr. Bradley!

Thank you, Mr. Bradley for giving the Hawks beat bloggers something to wake up to. Much like the entire and, most important post season last year, (see the lockout & CBA) we are left without an OPEN BLOG THREAD.

The Hawks have certainly let an opportunity to change the background in their un-storied history, just walk on by. I and others have said all along; This post season will be one of attrition – only the strong will survive and, the last man standing will be triumphant.

Just when we began to get two key players healthy in, Horford and Zaza (supposedly round 2) we once again failed to execute plays in the 2nd and 4th quarters. This team to a man does not their roles on this team and, if they do – they have shown resistance in fulfilling those roles.

If you are not a PG? Then, why insist on bring the ball up on fast breaks in lieu of filling the lanes for easy baskets? If you are not a SG? Then, why insist on jacking up 18 jumpers per game from 16′ to 22′ feet, and not live in the painted post? I think the court is color coordinated and, has white lines to display your high percentage sweet spots.

In those two games back, Horford has a .587 FGP, but for some strange reason, he never got more that 9 looks in any of those two games he played in. Yet the SG and SF who averaged about .327 FPG shot the ball like their hands were on TNT.

News Flash! You don’t need a heat check and, don’t bother to blow on your hands – You were never that hot! Not even close.

Go Get a:

Real Owner
Real GM
Real Coach
Some Real Shooters
A Real center (or backup for Zaza)
A Bonafide PG (or let Jeff be one & a backup to him)
A Real SF

That’s all I got.

Again, thanks Mr. Bradley for giving us a Hawks Blog today. Us cohorts really need to discuss this for The Love of Basketball.

steve brown

May 16th, 2012
9:51 am

Joe Johnson to the Knicks or the Bulls. Say a prayer that the Knicks keep our ex-coach and he decides that he wants Joe Johnson on his team. With the Bulls star out for another year perhaps they have renewed interest in Joe. Don’t sign a GM, we didn’t even know we had one anyway.

biz

May 16th, 2012
9:56 am

woulda.
shoulda.
coulda.
didnt.

Ed Gray

May 16th, 2012
9:58 am

Blown call is such a joke. Overcoming the breaks that the refs/league handed to Boston is extremely difficult. We need new ownership because we have no respect around the league. It starts at the top.

AlpharettaGuy

May 16th, 2012
9:59 am

Joe Johnson to the Bulls….hmmm… maybe some traction there. Rose is out for the year, they’re trying to move Boozer..I wouldn’t take Boozer, he’s overrated, but maybe the Bulls would go for some kind of deal for Joe to replace Rose. I think taking Joe off of the Hawks would be addition by subtraction & he might fit for the Bulls for one year. Noah would be a high energy guy to bring in to the 5 spot.

O'Brien

May 16th, 2012
10:01 am

doc,

Reggie Evans signed with the Clippers on December 21. A one year deal for the vet min. Hawks signed Vlad Rad on Dec. 9 for the vet min. Clearly, the better investment would have been Reggie Evans, a proven energy/rebound guy, especially since the cost was the same. Plus nobody knew what to expect from Ivan.

But remember what Rick Sund said. We like our bigs.

drmaryb.(*_*).

May 16th, 2012
10:03 am

Lost Puppy!

We need a metal detector to find the lead in Marvin’s “a z z”. This is the only way we can know where his is on a nightly basis.

Guest appearances in the regular and play offs, will no longer be sufficient going into next season.

O'Brien

May 16th, 2012
10:06 am

doc,

Reggie Evans signed with the Clippers on December 21. A one year deal for the vet min. Hawks signed Vlad Rad on Dec. 9 for the vet min. He was there for the taking, and we passed.

Our bench helped us during the season, but they gave us nothng during the playoffs.

O'Brien

May 16th, 2012
10:07 am

Mark,

Talk about bad asset management. Hawks are in luxury tax, dedpite having 8 guys making the vet min, and a 9th guy on a rookie contract.