I don't ask for much from my favorite team. Do I hope for much? Sure, but I don't ask for unreasonable things from them. One of the only things I consistently ask of them is that they don't lose to teams that they should not lose to. Well, they did exactly that tonight against the Miami Heat.
Myself and a handful of other Hawks bloggers were given the opportunity to chat with Rick Sund prior to tonight's game. I won't get into too much about the chat because there was only one revelation he made that was relevant to this game. He said Jamal Crawford would not play because of a shoulder injury.
When he said that, two things went through my mind. The first thing was a feeling of "aw shucks" because I knew there would likely be no four point plays. The second thing that went through my mind was that the Hawks would probably not pull away from the Heat until the fourth quarter. The thought that they might actually lose the game never crossed my mind, because I assumed the Hawks knew they were better than the Heat. I assumed incorrectly.
Now we've come to the portion of the recap where I read way too much into one loss.
This loss tells me one thing for certain about the Hawks franchise player, he's not really a franchise player. When a team is faced with injuries to role players, their superstar has to do something extra. That's the position Joe was in tonight, but he didn't do anything extra. He started the game 4-4, then proceeded to go 3-17 the rest of the way. That is unacceptable on every level. I have always been of the thinking that Joe Johnson does not deserve a max contract. This game just reinforced my beliefs. First of all, he can't get to the free throw line. Did he have a couple of drives where there was contact? Sure, but he also shot eight 3 pointers. He didn't exactly force the refs to make a call in his favor. What it boils down to is if Joe's jump shot isn't falling he can't score. We already knew that, but this game highlighted it.
There is no second of all.
LeBron James lost damn near every guard on his team to injuries, yet the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a 12 game win streak. He is doing something extra. I do not need to be reminded that Joe is not as good of a player as LeBron. However I do need to remind you that Joe wants to be paid like LeBron. If you want franchise player money, then you need to have franchise player performances when your team needs you most. You need to not lose to the stinking Miami Heat! You bitch and moan about the crowd not showing up for the games, then 17,000 people come out and you lose to a team who had lost something like seven of their last ten games. I wouldn't blame the fans if they never came back. Here's a fun fact: Three of the Heat starters combined to go 5-22 and the Hawks lost by 18......
Josh put up good numbers. Al got his usual double double with his usual limited touches. Hell, Bibby even scored 12 points. It all comes back to the franchise player. He didn't do that something extra to make up for Jamal being out. Is it fair that the bulk of the responsibility for the outcome of this game falls on Joe? Well, as the highest paid player on the team, hell yes. His contract implies he is the best player, so he needed to do something extra to make up for the absence of Jamal. He didn't, so the Hawks go into the All Star break on a low note.
For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk, Humanhighlightblog or Soaringdownsouth