Monday, December 26, 2011

Atlanta Hawks: 2011-2012 Season Preview

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. The Hawks will make the playoffs. That's a pretty bold statement if you believe some of the better known national writers. They seem to think there are at least 8 teams in the East who are better than the Hawks.
Unless some things go horribly wrong, and I'm talking 3 of the 5 starters missing most of the season, random players legs falling off, or signing Jerry Stackhouse and expecting him to contribute, they'll make it.
They'd have to try HARD to miss the playoffs. I think it'd be harder for them to miss the playoffs than it'll be for them to make the playoffs. I'm kidding. Maybe. Either way, I've looked at the East and I just don't see the Hawks being on the outside looking in.
They have an issue or two, obviously. They don't have a lot of depth on the bench, but I defy you to name a season in recent memory where they've actually had any.  Sure, they'll miss Jamal's 18 ppg, but when you consider he gave up just as many points if not more, it might balance out. (I have no idea how many points Jamal's opponents actually averaged, I just know he's as bad a defender as he is a good scorer).

Sidebar: I'm going to miss Jamal. I've always enjoyed watching him play, and he's genuinely the nicest athlete I've ever met.

Anyway, I don't know specifically where the Hawks will finish this season, and I dare not guess. I just know they'll make the playoffs. This season is going to be hard on everyone, so I hope all of the players can stay healthy. Well, everyone except the guys who play for the Celtics, Knicks, and Heat. I'd be okay if they missed the latter half of the season due to paper cuts or something like that.
Go Hawks!

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, or Hoopinion

Monday, May 2, 2011

Series Preview: Hawks/Bulls


Am I just going to pick against the Hawks in the hopes that they'll prove me wrong again? Maybe.

I've been seeing a lot of "Bulls sweep" predictions. I'm not sure what this is based on. Everyone seems to be willing to discount the Bulls struggles with Indiana, yet they're not willing to acknowledge that the Hawks played relatively well against the team that beat them by something like 7,958 combined points last year. That's cool. All signs point to a Bulls victory, but there aren't very many signs that point to a Bulls cake walk. Outside of one and a half positions, the Bulls do not have superior talent to the Hawks. The half is Carlos Boozer. He's not more talented than Josh Smith, however he does harness his talents better, so there's that. Otherwise, the teams are pretty evenly matched. The best chance the Hawks have to win this series is to speed up the tempo. The Bulls are too good defensively and the Hawks are too inconsistent offensively to play a half court game with them. The Hawks have wasted several years of being one of the most athletic teams in the league, but not fully using it to their advantage due to being coached by two men who want to run an offense that they don't have the personnel to justly execute. It's asking a lot, but they need to let Teague push the ball. Otherwise, they'll be playing right into the Bulls hands.

Anyway, the Bulls are a good team, but people are acting like they're comprised of a "been there, done that group" This group hasn't been deep into the playoffs together. They're young and they're vulnerable. Just because no one is willing to acknowledge it, doesn't mean it's not true.

Having said all that, the Bulls will probably win this series. But, I'm going to let the rose colored glasses wearing fan in me have this preview.

Hawks in 6.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hawks/Magic Preview

I haven't had much to say about this Atlanta Hawks team on this (my) particular blog. I'm sorry, but I was uninspired. The team was stale and quite frankly they didn't give effort on a consistent enough basis to deserve me giving effort on a consistent basis. Our relationship is at an impasse right now.

Do I think the Hawks can win this series? Yup. The fan in me that wears the rose colored glasses absolutely thinks they can win this series. They played the Magic four times in the regular season and they won three of those games. That's enough evidence to suggest that they have the upper hand, right? Then, when you take into account that the Magic aren't as good this season as they were last season, you've gotta like the Hawks chances.
But, if you've watched this Hawks team play more than those four games this season then you know they are not to be trusted.
It should also be noted that they went 2-1 against the Milwaukee Bucks prior to being pushed to 7 games by them. (without their best player) They also won the season series against Miami 3-1 prior to being pushed to 7 games by them in arguably the worst 7 game series ever.

While Atlanta did win both of those series, they also had home court advantage which they do not have in this series versus the Magic. They have had a hard time winning series they were favored to win, so there's absolutely no reason to believe they can win a series as an underdog. Time after time this season they got punched in the mouth and didn't do a damn thing about it. There's no evidence to suggest their mentality will magically change, and you know Orlando is going to come out swinging. I've tried to come up with some legitimate reasons as to why I think they'll win this series, but I really can't. If we're just getting down to the x's and o's, it still doesn't bode well for them. There's one truth about this team that is backed up with statistics, (no, I'm not going to present any) and just regular old perception; they're a one trick pony. The Hawks are a jump shooting team, even down to the starting Center. Basically if their jump shots are falling, they have a great chance to win, if they aren't, they don't. As Charles Barkley likes to say, "you don't live by jumpers, you die by jumpers." I fear the Hawks are going to die a slow, painful death. They have an opportunity to prove me wrong, and there's a big part of me that wants them to do so. I could get into the many other reasons I don't think this team can beat Orlando when it matters, but that would make this post extremely long.
Sidebar: If you have a moment, please go back to some of last year's Hawks blogs and read all the things we wrote about Jason Collins during the second round series against the Magic, then read a few of this year's Hawks/Magic series previews. You'll laugh at the irony. I promise.

Now, the fan in me that doesn't wear the rose colored glasses knows it would be absolutely devastating to this organization if this team wins this series. They have been selling this continuity bullshit to us for the past 3 or 4 seasons and I'm over it. What is so appealing about continuing down this path of mediocrity? This group as currently constructed is as good as they'll ever be. The only player who has a chance in hell of still improving is Jeff Teague and that's because he has youth on his side. Unfortunately for him he's had two coaches who won't consistently play him, but whatever. The rest of these guys, while not ancient, are veteran players. They are who they are.
Getting their asses whipped in historical fashion last season by the Magic wasn't enough to convince the organization to overhaul the whole roster. I have to believe that if it happens again they won't be able to deny that significant changes need to occur. Everyone else in the East is making moves, but the Hawks are standing still. Everyone said they had to re-sign Joe or they'd take a step back. Well, they did re-sign Joe and they still took a step back. Now what?
I really hate to wish for another historic ass whipping, but I feel like that's what it's going to take to move this team forward.
When the ball goes up, I'm sure the rose colored glasses wearing fan in me will be front and center. I'll be rooting hard for the Hawks, but deep down, I don't think they'll win.

Magic in 6

Go Hawks!

For more thorough Hawks analysis visit Peachtreehoops, Hoopinion or Hawstr8talk

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Nique! (Wish I Could Go Back)

In honor of Dominique Wilkins b-day, I've decided to share something I wrote around this time last year for Score (who I no longer write for) Happy Birthday!

Dominique Wilkins, better known as The Human Highlight Film turned 50 years old this week! Doesn’t it feel like 50 crept up on him rather quickly? Dominique turning 50 made me wonder what I really knew about him when he was in his prime. He was without a doubt my favorite player to watch growing up and that’s probably because I didn’t care about his strengths or weaknesses. I didn’t know if he could defend a pick and roll. I didn’t know if he could go left. I didn’t know if he had a great mid-range jumper. I didn’t know if he was a great passer or if he was turnover prone. I didn’t know anything other than he appeared to be able to fly, and he was entertaining. I honestly didn’t know anything, but more importantly, I didn’t care. These days there is a lot of focus on being more informed, but being informed and being a fan don’t necessarily go together. Having limitless information has taken something away from the game for me. I don’t pay attention to +/-, or PER, but I certainly watch players with a more critical eye. I long to go back to the time when I could watch a player like LeBron James and just marvel at his athleticism as opposed to wondering why his jump shot doesn’t look the same from one quarter to the next. I’d rather focus on the beauty of Allen Iverson’s ability to dominate guys who are nearly a foot taller than he is as opposed to wondering why he needs 30 shots to get 30 points. There are legitimate questions about players that should be asked and answered, but not by fans. Scouts and general managers should worry about a player’s efficiency, while fans worry about being entertained. At the end of the day that’s what sports are supposed to be about. They’re supposed to be the thing we indulge in that takes us away from our worries. Instead, they’ve given us a new list of things to worry about and that is unfortunate.

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