Dancing With Noah

Just messing around, getting triple doubles

Category Archives: Atlanta Hawks

Day Three: What these Hands hath Wrought

Alright, today’s post is a consolidation of madnesses from Sunday and Monday; and make no mistake it has been mad; at least someone’s mad. We’ve witnessed referee’s being loosely assaulted, Caron Butler breaking his hand, an impossible 27-point comeback and Amar’s Stoudemire punching out a pane of glass and in the process shredding his hand. If you’re not getting kicked out of games or getting hurt, you’re not doing your part.

Utah at San Antonio, game one, Spurs won 106-91, lead 1-0: Tony Parker did that Tony Parker thing he does where he uses speed and timing to invade the opposition’s defense at will. That the Spurs now play to his strengths instead of Duncan’s is impressive and a credit to all parties involved. The Jazz took one of four games against the Spurs in the regular season and will be fortunate to do better in the playoffs.

Random fact: Gordon Hayward attempted a career-high twelve free throws in game one and hit all twelve.

Denver at Lakers, game one, Lakers won 103-88, lead 1-0: Andrew Bynum is big, tall, long, talented, occasionally immature and more. To the Nuggets, he was the boogeyman in the paint, a giant protecting his lair. Ten blocks in the playoffs? Tied Hakeem Olajuwon and Mark Eaton for most blocks in playoff game history? Yep, that’s Andy. While Dwight’s temporarily crippled by a herniated disc, Bynum looks like an invincible force doing battle with children.

Random fact*: Devin Ebanks is actually Trevor Ariza.

Boston at Atlanta, game one, Hawks won 83-74, lead 1-0: It was yet another battle in years’ worth of battles for these two franchises. The Hawks overcame a historically dismal shooting performance from Joe Johnson (see random fact below) to control this game and hang on for the win. The story that ruled the day was Rajon Rondo’s little chest bump into the ref. The timing and reaction were both overboard and could result in Boston dropping into a 0-2 hole. With Ray Allen’s health in question, the momentum Boston had built in March and April is vanishing in acts of immaturity and inevitability.

Random fact: Joe Johnson joined three other players in playoff history in three-point shooting ignominy with his 0-9 performance. His fellow culprits: John Starks, Rashard Lewis and Derrick Rose.

Clippers at Memphis, game one, Clippers won 99-98, lead 1-0: Watching this game was like watching a movie where you expect one thing to happen, but then the director/writer throws a knuckleball that leaves you disoriented and questioning the events of the previous two hours. Did it add up? Was it believable? Did I enjoy being befuddled or did the director just play a joke on me? There wasn’t a script to Sunday night’s game unless the big director in the sky is a Nick Young fan. What happens from here is anyone’s guess, but I can confidently say the Memphis Collective (players, coaches, fans, employees) looked helplessly nauseous in that fourth quarter.

Random fact(s): Reggie Evans’s 13 rebounds in 21 minutes put him in rare company with five other prolific playoff rebounders who’ve grabbed at least 13 boards in 21 minutes or less: Danny Schayes (14 in 21), Kurt Rambis (14 in 21), Scot Pollard (14 in 21), Jeff Foster (13 in 21), Maurice Lucas (14 in 19).

New York at Miami, game two, Heat won 104-94, lead 2-0: Once again, anger steals the headlines. Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t take too well to the Knicks’ second straight loss in Miami and took it out on a pane of glass covering a fire extinguisher. David Aldridge proceeded to take the event far too seriously, treating it more like Stoudemire had severed his femoral artery and was at risk of bleeding out instead of addressing it for the loss of control that it was. All this really does it take away the focus from what was another strong Miami performance and further reinforced the fact that the Knicks are simply overmatched the way blind Chinese dissidents are powerless against their government … oh, wait.

Random fact: Miami Heat nicknames: Mike Miller is “Slim,” Juwan Howard is “Nooky,” James Jones is “Jhoops” (which is actually pronounced “Joops” as the “h” is silent)

Orlando at Indiana, game two, Pacers won 93-78, tied 1-1: This game is being relegated to the NBA TV slot which essentially makes it the least interesting series in the playoffs. Ratings considerations aside, Monday night’s game was the familiar storyline of a tale of two halves. After falling behind by two at the half and being firmly bullied, the Pacers responded appropriately with a 30-13 third quarter. I wish things were different, but I struggle to find intrigue in this series.

Random fact: The Pacers are 33-2 on the season when leading after three quarters.

Dallas at OKC, game two, OKC won 102-99, up 2-0: Combined score after two games 201 – 197. The Mavs have had their chances, but unlike last season when they couldn’t miss in crunch time, Dirk and Jason Terry have come up short two games in a row and are dangerously close to seeing their title defense end early. Being pushed to the brink is nothing new for this Dallas crew, but in small spaces of their group consciousness, questions are being asked. Notable observations:

  • I’m not a Brendan Haywood fan, but the more I see him, the more I feel Shaq was justified in referring to him as “Brenda.”
  • Does Billy Hunter watch NBA games and if so, does he openly cheer against Derek Fisher? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, last night had to be particularly bitter for him.

Random fact: Miniscule sample size for sure, but through two playoff games, Kevin Durant is shooting 34% from the field compared to 52% for Russell Westbrook.

And that concludes three days of playoff basketball. We’ve had anger, controversy, pain and loss. Negativity is the overwhelming theme and I look forward to exploring the more affirmative aspects of these games in the coming days.



Nothing Changes, but the People get Older – Atlanta Hawks Preview

Deep in the heart of the south, in a place marked by crisscrossing highways and oppressive heat; an NBA franchise and its fans live in dull, apathetic pain. The strange ownership saga that began back in 2005 when the Atlanta Spirit group purchased the team is finally over, but the 2011 team, like its predecessors dating back to the Dominique Wilkins days seem destined to forever be a potential playoff spoiler and nothing more. Where Nique’s Hawks were at least entertaining, this bunch has become plodding and predictable (they ranked 27th out of 30 teams in pace last year).

The Hawks’ current path can be traced back to July 8th, 2010 when they made the decision to re-sign a then 29-year-old Joe Johnson to a six-year, $119million deal that will wind up paying him just under $25million in 2016, when he’s 35. This is the same Joe Johnson who’s made just one All NBA team (and it was an All NBA Third team) in his ten-year career. The same Joe Johnson who completed the 2010-11 season with his least productive numbers since 2006 and he’s going to be eating up nearly half of Atlanta’s cap space for the foreseeable future.

Then there’s Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague who provide at least a glimmer beyond the dull glow of an annual second round playoff defeat. I’m trying to find something to get excited about with this team, but I’ve seen them play, there’s just not much to look forward to. At least last year Jamal Crawford had the imagination to occasionally captivate the audience. Now there’s just Jeff Teague; a 23-year-old point guard entering his third year enveloped in hopeful curiosity after his performance as a fill-in for the injured Kirk Hinrich in the playoffs. Teague could be what the Hawks have previously resisted (I won’t revisit the painful details of the 2005 draft): a pace-pushing starting point guard. The eight-game audition last spring isn’t enough to start pulling back flips and actually buying tickets to Hawks’ games, but at least it’s a departure from what’s become routine from Joe, Horford and Josh Smith (stop shooting those threes!).

With $65million committed to just nine players they have under contract, don’t expect many recognizable free agents heading to Atlanta. And since they had just one pick in the 2011 draft (Keith Benson from Oakland University), we’ll see the same crew they trotted out last year—minus Crawford and with Teague seeing more of a featured role early in the season while Hinrich recovers from shoulder surgery.

It’s not all bad though. With Boston’s big three getting older and losing some of that bark (looking at you, KG) and Orlando being distracted by new trade rumors every day, there’s an opportunity for the Hawks to be the third best team in the conference. It seems like the front office is content in that three-to-five range where they’re guaranteed to make the playoffs and, so their logic seems, at least have a chance to win it all. I blame these low expectations directly on the 2008 playoffs when the upstart eight-seed Hawks captivated the basketball world by taking the eventual champion Celtics to seven games in the first round. It was at that time that someone in Atlanta’s front office came to the conclusion that the underdog can win in the NBA and the teams they’ve built over the past three seasons have reflected that flawed rationale.

I’m sure the good marketing people in Atlanta are cooking up some compelling reasons to support the Hawks, but until this team redesigns its aesthetic and commitment to winning, I’d be hard pressed to spend money watching this them and based on last year’s attendance numbers, the residents of the Peach State agree.


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