Thursday, April 29, 2010

We've Been Humbled

Isn't this what we asked for?

We all wanted the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. No one wanted to play Charlotte because historically they play the Hawks really well and they're coached by one of the best to ever do it.
We didn't want to play Miami, because they were on fire at the end of the season and honestly, last year's series was painful to watch, even for Hawks fans. No one wanted to see that again.
We all wanted the Andrew Bogutless Bucks. Well we got them, and now the Hawks are on the verge of elimination.
One could point to any number of reasons that the Hawks are one game away from going fishing. Coaching, effort, bad shots, defense..... all of these are valid reasons, but the real reason they're one game away from elimination is arrogance.
Let's have an honest moment real quick.
The Hawks won 53 games during the regular season and finished third in the eastern conference. The Bucks won 47 games and finished sixth in the conference after losing their best player. This series was set up for the Hawks to win. They were a better team than Milwaukee even when Andrew Bogut was healthy. You knew it, I knew it, the team knew it. The problem is we all strutted into this series thinking that would be enough. The Bucks are without their best player (or players depending on your view of Michael Redd's impact on the team for the few games he was healthy) Meanwhile, no team was more fortunate on the injury front than the Atlanta Hawks. They didn't have to deal with anything other than the usual wear and tear of an 82 game season.
Okay this is taking too long. To hell with all this setting the scene crap. The Hawks took the Bucks lightly. They said otherwise before the series started, but deep down inside they did. They wanted to play Milwaukee for the same reason we wanted them to play Milwaukee. We saw them as a wounded team. Hell, I didn't think this series would take more than 5 games, and that was before the Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead. After they did that, I didn't see any reason why this series should have gone more than 4 games. That's the level of arrogance I had, and whether or not the Hawks win or lose this series has nothing to do with me. If I was that confident, you know where their confidence level had to be. After Game 3 Brandon Jennings said "I felt like they were a little bit cocky," Jennings said Sunday. "They came in like, 'OK, it's Milwaukee, we're up 2-0.' I mean, that's just how I felt. I felt like they thought they were just going to come in and just blow us out. I think with the crowd, and the way we came out, it just changed everything."
He was right. You know it and I know it. Even after the Bucks thoroughly whipped their asses, we/they were still arrogant. As usual, the main reason given for the defeat was effort. This team as a whole thinks effort is the only reason they ever lose games. If they don't acknowledge the adjustments that Scott Skiles made against them, how can they adjust to those adjustments? They can't and you see it playing out. That's arrogance on the part of the head coach.
The bottom line is we were all arrogant, and in reality we had no right to be. We've seen the fourth quarter collapses on too many occasions this season as detailed by hoopinion. We knew this wasn't a good road team. We knew the playoffs were all about adjustments and the head coach of this team is either incapable of, or unwilling to make them. We knew this team had issues with committing to the things they do well. Knowing all of these things, we still thought the Hawks would win this series easily. Arrogance was their undoing. It led to the bad coaching, the bad defense, the bad shot selection and the lack of effort. They thought they could just show up and the series would play out how it was supposed to. Well, they're one game away from elimination, so perhaps we should all replace our arrogance with a little humility.

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk or Humanhighlightblog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hawks 104, Bucks 111 or Where It's Okay To Lose On The Road When Your Head Coach Doesn't Really Expect You To Win Anyway

I'm not even sure where to start. I could start with the defense, but that would take analysis that I'm not even qualified to present. You'll have to go check out for that. All I know is, the Bucks ran maybe 3 plays, and the Hawks had no idea how to stop any of them. I'm pretty sure their strategy turned into "let's just hope they miss". Bibby "guarding" Delfino and Za Za "guarding" Jennings was the manifestation of said strategy. Needless to say, it was a flawed strategy, but you have to at least admire the fact that the Hawks were committed to something tonight.
This brings us to the head coach. , I couldn't get everything he said in the post game press conference, but let me sum it up for you as best as I can. He doesn't really expect them to win on the road. Did he flat out say that? No, but he kept reiterating that they played all season for home court advantage for this reason. I had a feeling they were using that as a crutch, I just hoped that feeling was wrong because they're the #3 seed, and the Bucks are without their best player, and the Hawks have 2 All Stars, and the Hawks won 7 more games than the Bucks, and the Hawks have more recent playoff experience, and the Hawks head coach is coaching for a job, and so forth and so on. Either way, I was right.
There was a stretch in the 4th qtr when the Hawks had cut the Bucks lead to 6 and then decided to let Mo Evans take over on offense. He took 4 of the Hawks 6 shots from the 7:12 mark to the 3:54 mark. He missed all 4 shots. I'm not even sure who to blame for that, but the head coach viewed this sequence positively. The only problem he had was that Mo missed the shots. One would think he should have a problem that Mo was taking the shots at all, but whatever.
Coach Woodson ended his presser with this gem:
We've been in this position before. We were able to push Miami to 7 and win it in 7. It's not like this team isn't ready to accept the challenge. I feel good about the position we're in, we've just gotta go home and handle our business like we have all year.

Okay. A) They were the favorites in that series. They weren't doing the pushing, They were being pushed, that is not a position he should point to as a reason for hope. B-Z) No one gives a shit about last year's series!
He also said he needs to watch the tapes so he can see the defensive miscues. Really? He couldn't see where his strategy of switching on everything defensively was a huge mistake from his courtside seat? I saw it from my couch, as did most every other person in America. The only difference between him and us is that he had the ability to do something about it and he did not. Seriously, if from where he was sitting he couldn't determine that Za Za should not be asked to guard Brandon Jennings, then he should not be the head coach an NBA team.
In the interest of preserving time, let me skip ahead to why Mike Woodson was not extended last summer. Hawks 104, Bucks 111 If you want to know why Rick Sund is asking him to show and prove, just go watch this game in it's entirety. (that link will not take you to the game in its entirety, it's just a recap) You'll notice I haven't really said much about the players. Obviously, they have to play the game and they have to make the plays. However, everything about this game was an indictment on the head coach and his offensive and defensive strategy. On offense there is no strategy. "It will take care of itself" as the head coach likes to say. On defense the strategy is so flawed a rookie is exploiting it with ease. I'm not letting the players off the hook, just pointing out that they're doing what is expected of them. If they plan on winning this series then they're going to have to take it upon themselves to stray from the game plan when it's clearly not working. This game wasn't lost because of adjustments that the Bucks made, it was lost because of adjustments that Mike Woodson didn't make.

Go Hawks.

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtree
hoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk or Humanhighlightblog

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hawks 107, Bucks 89 or Where Atlanta Had A Literal Fear Of Deer

The Bucks gave the Hawks a good old fashioned ass whipping. I was really hoping the Hawks would go in there and smash them, but deep down I knew this team is not made like that. They don't really have a "go for the jugular" mentality. I didn't expect them to lose by so many, but I guess that was just my naivety showing because they absolutely suck on the road in the playoffs. I expect them to bounce back and win Game 4 and I'll be genuinely surprised if they don't. The Bucks are still the same Andrew Bogutless bunch. The only difference was they were on fire early and they played like a team who was really excited to be hosting a playoff game at home. They looked an awful lot like the Hawks of a couple of years ago.
The Bucks played really well and they absolutely deserved to win this game. Their coaches made the necessary adjustments to disrupt all of the things that worked for Atlanta in the first two games and they deserve a lot of credit. Your move Woody.

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk or Humanhighlightblog

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hawks 96, Bucks 86 or Where Josh Smith Makes Amazing Happen In An Effortless Way

The Hawks are better than the Bucks. They just are. I know they are without their best player in Andrew Bogut, but that's a Milwaukee problem.

The Good: Josh Smith. He finished the game with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He made it look so easy. I'm pretty sure he didn't break a sweat for most of the game. He was also really funny in the post game press conference. He was at the podium with Joe, but no one was asking Joe anything, so Josh says "Y'all gone ask Joe any questions? He's over here too." Just continuing his unselfish behavior. Honorable Mention: Al Horford had a double double (yawn), and Joe John$on had 27 point$, 4 rebound$, 6 a$$i$t$ and 2 blocked $hot$.

The Bad: Jamal Crawford. He was really off tonight. He missed layups, pull up jumpers and everything in between. Luckily for the Hawks they didn't really need him to be great, or even good. Honorable Mention: Mike Bibby, for no other reason than he didn't go 8-9 from the field. He actually wasn't bad at all. 10 points, 7 assists.

The Ugly: Brandon Jennings. He was the complete opposite of what he was in Game 1, so in other words, he was awful. 9 points on 3-15 shooting and he got his shot blocked roughly 653 times. He looked like a rookie tonight.

The series now shifts to Milwaukee where the Bucks will presumably play better. There's still no reason this should go more than 5 games. I actually don't see any real reason why the Bucks should be making a team trip back to Atlanta this season unless they'd planned a day at the Georgia Aquarium and just didn't get around to it. Is this Hawks team mentally tough enough to go in there and smash them? I don't know. All I really know is the Hawks have won 2 games against the Bucks while barely exerting any energy. Okay, maybe they just made it look easy. One thing is for certain, this series is Atlanta's to lose.

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk, Soaringdownsouth or Humanhighlightblog

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hawks 102, Bucks 92 or Where Running Over A Deer Caught In The Headlights Doesn't Always Mean Damage To Your Car.

The Hawks disposed of the Bucks 102-92. Sure there are some things I could vent about, but it's the playoffs so you have to take the wins however you can get them.
The young Bucks looked like deer in headlights, particularly in the first half. Actually, only in the first half. The second half they left their jitters in the locker room and gave the Hawks a little scare.

The Hawks played well enough to win, which is pretty much all I expect at this point. They only exert enough energy to get the win and not an ounce more. That's fine sometimes, but it's a recipe for disaster in the long run. The Hawks team that showed up in the first half is a team that could very well sweep the Bucks. The Hawks team that showed up in the second half is the team that will need 6 games to beat the Bucks. I'm inclined to think the second half Hawks team is the team we'll be seeing for most of this series. I'd love to be wrong about this, but deep down I don't think I am. Actually at the end of the day, the second half Hawks team is probably good enough to sweep the Bucks.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how Jamal Crawford performed in his playoff debut. He finished with 17 points on 4-11 shooting. His first playoff hoop was a floater after a filthy crossover that consisted of about 10 unnecessary dribbles. He wouldn't have it any other way, neither would I. He was also 3-5 from behind the arc. Basically, he did what he's been doing all season.

Brandon Jennings was really good in his first playoff appearance. There was nothing the Hawks could do with him for much of the game. Joe Johnson was the only defender who was able to somewhat contain him. (well he contained him twice, or maybe three times) He finished with 34 points on 14-25 shooting. Not bad for a rookie.

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion, Hawstr8talk, Soaringdownsouth or Humanhighlightblog