Over the course of an 82 game season, your favorite team is going to lose some games. We all acknowledge and accept that, however some losses are just worse than others. The loss to the Nuggets tonight was a bad loss. I know the Hawks were playing a back to back and I know they were still without Joe Smith and I know the air is thin or nonexistent in Denver and I know they probably wanted a little payback for that ass whippin they took in Atlanta, but this was still a bad loss and here's why......
The Good: JR Smith He was insane tonight. Were he not playing against the Hawks I most certainly would have marveled at the wide open threes he drained one after the other. I also would have marveled at the slightly contested threes he drained one after the other, but since he was doing it to the Hawks the only thing I could focus on was their attempts at defending him. (I'll get to that later) JR was 15-25 from the floor including 10 made 3 pointers. He ended the night with 41 points. Honorable Mention: Al Horford. He finished with 18 points on 7-9 shots and he had 11 rebounds.
The Bad: The Hawks continued insistence on ignoring Al Horford on offense. Look, Al is not perfect in the post, but he is the best post option the Hawks have, yet they're reluctant if not down right unwilling to use him. Yes, he's undersized, but he makes up for it with quickness and determination. I can't think of too many games where Al just got used and abused without trying as hard as he could to defend whomever he was defending. The boy works hard, yet they treat him like he's a dirty work player. They act like he's there to do nothing more than rebound their misses and the misses of the opposition. Al is better than that and someone on the team is going to have to eventually figure that out. In the last two losses Al established himself in the 3rd quarter only to have the 4th qtr come along and then his guards revert back to ignoring him. Something's got to change. Jump-shots will always be there, especially when you've got guards who dribble for 17 seconds to create jump-shots for themselves.
The Ugly: The lack of defensive adjustments on JR Smith. JR is streaky and when he's hot he's hot, but that does not excuse our coach's unwillingness to do something to make it hard on him. They didn't do anything to take the ball out of his hands. NOTHING. It was obvious very early on that one person was not going to be able to stop JR, so one would reasonably assume the coach and or one of his minions might suggest getting the ball out of his hands. One would be wrong. Just look at what the Nuggets did to Joe. They smothered him to a point that he couldn't dribble his way out of it to get off a jump shot. He had 9 assists for no other reason than the Nuggets gave him no choice but to pass the ball. We all know Joe usually has no problem shooting over 1-4 people, but the Nuggets took that option away tonight. They had a game plan and they executed it. The Hawks had a game plan too I assume, but JR screwed it up and they didn't do anything to adjust. Over the past few weeks I've read a handful of articles from people wondering why Coach Woodson hasn't been extended. As a Hawks fan who watches pretty much all of the games (most of the home games in person) I know why he hasn't been extended. Unfortunately most of the people writing the columns questioning his lack of a contract don't really watch Hawks games so they don't know why. Well in a nutshell, he still needs to prove he can coach em up in close games and he hasn't done that consistently. The blowout wins are great, but they don't tell you shit about a coach. You need to see what he does when the pressure is on. Coach Woodson continues to fail in some areas that quite frankly he shouldn't be failing in at this point in his life. Chances are if you read this blog you already know what those areas are. If this is your first time reading it, you'll have to come back for a post dedicated exclusively to the shortcomings of our great coach. This post isn't about that, and it's gotten way too long as it is.
For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk or Humanhighlightblog
March 10: Hawks vs Jazz
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