Monday, May 10, 2010

Season Preview Review.

The Hawks still have at least one game left, but let's not kid ourselves, this season is over. Let's take a look at my Atlanta Hawks season preview from 6 moths ago. It was limited to Joe Johnson and Mike Woodson. I was right in spots about Joe. He's still basically the same player he was last season and while he did display selfish tendencies a lot this season, I can't say he did it at a higher rate than before. Mike Woodson is still Mike Woodson and my assessment of him was spot on in my opinion.

I honestly don't know what to expect from this team.

Everyone is so sure that Joe Johnson playing for a contract can only mean good things for the Hawks. I don't really see it that way. Quite frankly, I'm worried.
Joe already tries to do way too much. This season Joe will try to do even more. He's got to prove that he's worth more than $60 million over 4 years, which is debatable.
The one player in recent history who did not defer to Joe Johnson is no longer here. Flip, (yes I'm talking about Flip Murray) signed with the Bobcats since the Hawks let him go in favor of Jamal Crawford. He was streaky and on any given night he scared the hell out of me, but he was at least proactive about getting his shot. This team needed that because the rest of the guys are far too content with just standing around watching Joe dribble 17 seconds off the shot clock only to end up with a contested jumper. Not that all of Joe's shots are of that nature, but as I pointed out last season, Joe takes bad shots often enough that its noticeable. There was a time when a Joe Johnson contested fade away jumper was a better option than a wide open jumper by anyone else. That is no longer the case because Joe's teammates are better, he just needs to trust them. Will he sacrifice his stats for the good of the team this season? Not in a contract year.......
Joe has never been described as a "selfish player", but I'm willing to bet he will display a lot of "selfish player" tendencies this season. I guess we'll have to wait and see what position that leaves the team in when it's all said and done.

This is also a make or break season for Mike Woodson. He's gotta prove that he's capable of producing more than one winning season. Is this a championship contending team? I'm leaning towards no, hoping for yes, but leaning towards no. Having acknowledged the fact that playing in June is an -unrealistic- lofty goal, Mike Woodson will not be excused if this team gets swept in the second round again. At least I hope he won't. I admire the Spirit for honoring his contract and etc., but honestly, they already know what kind of coach Woody is. If Rick Sund can acknowledge the ceiling for all of the players, then he should also acknowledge the ceiling for Woody. He's reached it and he is not going to get any better, mainly because he's not going to do anything differently.
Every off-season he makes declarations about getting this player more minutes, or that player more touches and once the season begins he makes no noticeable effort to do any of the things he tells Sekou he's going to do. At some point they just have to accept who he is and make a decision as to whether or not that's good enough for them.
This preview is limited to Joe and Mike because they are the two most important people involved with this team this season. Joe is the Hawks best player and Woody is the man pulling the strings. Their effectiveness is directly related to the team's success.
It's not that Mike, Josh, Al, Za Za, Jamal, Jeff and Marvin aren't important, but they aren't as important as the guy who dominates the ball or the man whose offense allows him to do so.

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

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"I'm not here to coach effort"-Mike Woodson

That statement tells you a lot about the Atlanta Hawks head coach, and why they are where they are as a team.
I already assumed he didn't feel like that was part of his job, but it's glad to finally hear him say it.
I can understand why a coach would feel like being in the second round of the playoffs should be motivation enough for any player. I feel that way too, unfortunately it does not work like that. Some players need to be motivated, especially if they feel like there are certain teammates who aren't trying very hard. That can lead to, "well if he's not trying, then I'm not going to try either". It's petty, but it happens on every level of sports. It's definitely a problem one needs to address themselves, but sometimes they need a little push. This is where coaching comes in. No one is asking you to plead and beg with them to try to get them to play harder. That probably wouldn't work anyway. However there are some things you could do to try get maximum effort out of them. If you see a guy visibly dogging it on the court, bench his ass! There should be a list of things that the players know will not be tolerated. The list should include, but not be limited to: not boxing out due to laziness, being careless with the ball, taking ill advised shots, endlessly complaining to the refs, not getting back on defense and etc. It would not be going out on a limb to assume that if playing time were directly connected to effort, guys might try harder.
Even if they didn't, it would at least send the message to the guys who are actually trying, that you aren't going to let their teammates who are half assing it, contribute to the loss of a game. The problem with this Hawks team is that they know there are no repercussions for bad play. It could be because the head coach doesn't have the balls to discipline them, or because the options to replace them during a game are not very good. Either way, they know their playing time is all but written in indelible ink. When you have an offensive and defensive game plan that is as flawed as the one the Hawks employ, you can ill afford to add laziness to the equation when playing a great team. There's no shame in losing to a better team, however there is shame in losing to any team due to not trying. We would be okay with these losses if you all went down swinging like the Spurs, Jazz, Thunder, Mavericks, Bulls and Bobcats. But, there has been no fight in this team and that is unforgivable.

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hawks 71, Magic 114 or Where I Wasn't Really Expecting An Ass Whipping Of That Magnitude

I'm not going to waste a lot of time on a recap. Nope. The team gave a half assed effort,(except for Josh) so I'm going to do my best to imitate them and give a half assed recap. There's really not a whole lot to say. The Hawks got their asses whipped. There's no other way to describe it.
Luckily, Mike Woodson was there in the post game press conference to remind us that they just missed shots they'd normally make. Obviously, since no one hit their average, it's safe to say they didn't play well offensively, but sorry coach it's a bit deeper than just missing shots. And, all those missed shots don't explain the giving up of 114 points. Either take the press conference seriously, or skip it.
Mike Woodson has missed yet another opportunity for a teaching moment. What he should have said in the press conference was something along the lines of "all of you players suck, I'm embarrassed to be your coach, and take your suit off because we have practice in 15 minutes". Tonight was the night he needed to make an example out of someone, and he had at least 4 players he could have chosen from, starting with the franchise player, who had a hand in helping the Magic break the game open, but I digress.
Aside from getting their asses kicked by 40+ points, they also failed to show up and face the media. They sent Za Za. Really????? Joe Johnson makes four times as much money as Za Za and plays about four times as many minutes, yet he couldn't come face the media. There's no accountability by anyone on the team which is one of the many reasons they can lose to the Magic by 40 points in a conference semifinal game. Neither Joe, Josh, Al, Mike, or Jamal had the balls to stand up and account for this ass whipping. If they aren't mentally tough enough to take a handful of questions that they can easily bullshit their way through, they probably aren't mentally tough enough to win this series.
Go Hawks.

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

Hawks/Magic Preview: Courtesy Of A Conversation With My Mother

Mom: What are you doing later?
Me: Watching the Hawks game.
Mom: Who do they play?
Me: Orlando.
Mom: Oh, did the Hawks beat them this year?
Me: Well, they lost 3 of 4, but......
Mom: (hysterical laughter) Oh wow 3 of 4?? So they can't beat them?
Me: Actually Mom, you have to put those losses into perspective. Two of the losses came on back to back games right after they played Boston and one of them was on Thanksgiving night.
Mom: What does that have to do with anything?
Me: Well back to back's are hard and they didn't get to Orlando until very late that night before.
Mom: Well what about the Thanksgiving game?
Me: They were probably full off Thanksgiving dinner.
Mom: Oh wow (hysterical laughter) that's no excuse. Oh my gosh, you're so silly.
Me: (hysterical laughter) But Moooooom, turkey makes you tired! It doesn't matter, the regular season doesn't mean anything anyway.
Mom:(hysterical laughter) Well good, lucky Hawks. They could probably win a couple of games if they had a different coach.
Me: (sigh) Well............

That's a conversation my Mom and I had today at lunch. I wish I was joking about that Thanksgiving game, but I kinda wasn't. This match-up feels more like a 1 vs an 8 than it does a 2 vs a 3, but whatever.

If you read this blog then you know I don't give a damn about facts. "I will not be swayed by facts" is a part of my profile description. I know the odds are against the Hawks and for good reasons. I don't care about any of that. I'm riding with my boys. I think they can win this series. Charlotte had a great game plan, they just didn't have the horses to execute it. They got Howard in foul trouble, but they didn't have enough offense to capitalize off of it. The Hawks aren't the Golden State Warriors, but they do have people who are capable of scoring the basketball. If they can manage to get Howard in foul trouble, they can steal a game or four.
Obviously the Magic have some other really good players including Vince Carter whose mission in life as I understand it, is to make Hawks fans sad. But, the only place they're overwhelmingly better besides at Center is probably the PG position. The Hawks best bet at winning this series is to take Dwight out of the equation. The guards ( who are not all that fond of contact) have to attack him. If Charlotte could get him in foul trouble for 4 straight games, the Hawks should be able to do so too.
Other than that, the Hawks just have to play team basketball, something they've been known to stray away from for large stretches of the ga......all the time. It would also help if one of the guards had a good game. Joe has been a non factor in this series for the most part. Even in the games that he scored a respectable amount of points, it took him a disrespectful amount of fg attempts. He needs to be really good (like, I want someone to pay me $90 million this summer good) but not at the expense of the rest of the team. No iso-Joe! As a matter of fact, no iso anyone. Move the damn ball! Make the Magic defense work.

That's how the Hawks will win this series in 6 games.

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