News and Notes from the Hawks Game One loss in Orlando

Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks

(Source: Yardbarker.com)

A full eight hours from the close of this game has done nothing to take the sting off of the loss. Here is some of the fall out from around the web.

Mark Bradley of the AJC pretty much sums up the Hawks as a whole:

Just when you think the Hawks have a chance to do something really good, they offer up a loss that makes you wonder if they’re any good at all. Yeah, yeah –  it’s only one game and it still could be a long series, but the more the Hawks keep doing this the harder it is to write off one bad loss. Because there have been so many.

What more can you say? If the players and coaches want people to quit writing or saying these things about them then they need to start giving a whole lot better effort on the road.

Bret LaGree of Hoopinion describes the perfect storm that makes up a 43 point loss:

They probably won’t lose by 43 again. That took a perfect storm of poor shot selection, poor shot making, poor rebounding, an unusual number of turnovers, and the mid-game deflation that occurs when the first option isn’t working and you know no second option exists nor is one likely to be created on the spot.

I learn something every time I go and read something Bret has written. Yesterday while I was focused on the Hawks defense and how they were going to deal with Dwight Howard, Bret was worried about the Hawks offense against the Magic. He was dead on it as the Hawks were outscored by an astounding 60-21 margin in the second and third quarters.

Jason Walker of Peachtree Hoops, who had the misfortune of being at this one, questions removing Al Horford in first quarter after he picked up his first foul:

It was also Horford who, with six minutes left in the first quarter, was taken from the game in favor of Jason Collins. Woodson said after the game that it was to “use up fouls” and so Horford wouldn’t pick up that second foul. This was the most successful strategy of the night, as Horford never did pick up a second foul.

Woodson said it was something they talked about in shoot-around. Afterwards, Horford told us that it “was coach” and that he “would have to deal with it”. As for bringing in Collins over Zaza Pachulia, Woodson said that he was waiting to match Zaza up against Marcin Gortat, but Howard didn’t leave the game until almost three minutes left in the first half with the Magic up (16) already. Whoops.

I failed to touch on this in my game recap so I will do it now. The Hawks are not going to be competitive with the Magic without their big guns on the floor for as much of the series as possible. I am all for using Jason Collins and any big body we have at our disposal to slow down Dwight Howard when the situation calls for it. The strategy shouldn’t be employed until we are in fact in foul trouble. To employ it to prevent foul trouble is like playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Drew at Peachtree Hoops also questions Coach Woodson’s use of his bench and backs up my point above:

I do not want to blame all 43 or even 20 of those points on Woody, but he came into this game scared, and I have never seen an underdog team on the road win a game where the coach’s strategy was based in fear. Bringing Jason Collins off the bench to “take up fouls” is not a move that wins game, it is a move of survival, and the Hawks are not winning a game of survival. The day Mike Woodson realized that four on five is not an acceptable strategy at the end of quarter, in the playoffs, or on the rec gym floor is the day I endorse him as the future coach.

And on that note (not the survival one but the Woody is an idiot one), Mike Woodson just used his bench more against one of the deepest second units in the league. Seriously? Woody is many things. Eye brow shaver, foul out phobic, shit work proponent, but what he is not is a bench believer. Yet he brings out the preseason rotation for this game?

The point is the Hawks won’t win this series or any series by playing scared or not to lose. They have to be the aggressor. Simply adjusting to prevent foul trouble or to whatever the Magic throw at them won’t get the job done. The Hawks have to make the Magic do things that they don’t want to do.

Hawks Beat writer Michael Cunningham talks about the Hawks offensive struggles:

– That’s true but do the Hawks hope to hold the Magic to 70 points? The 10-point second quarter was something that shouldn’t happen in the playoffs. The Hawks had seven turnovers and four field goals in the period. The Magic rebounded 11 of their 13 misses.

– The Hawks seemed to be clueless about how they wanted to attack the Magic. Shoot, there were times when Iso-Joe looked to be better than anything else the Hawks were trying. “We just have to stick with the plan,” J.J. said. “I thought in the first quarter the plan that we had worked pretty good. In the second quarter we just fell apart and never regrouped.”

– The Hawks were back to their “the shots just didn’t fall” explanations. “We haven’t had many games where Jamal, Joe, and Bibby just couldn’t make shots,” Woody said. “It puts too much pressure on you.”

– It happened just a few days ago, in Game 5 against Milwaukee. The Hawks controlled that game until the meltdown because they played respectable D. They didn’t come close to doing that against the Magic. Then again, the Magic ain’t the Bucks.

– “We have to come up with a different game plan because what we have been doing hasn’t been working,” Al said. “We have to figure something out and play harder.”

We hit this subject from all angles. The Hawks offense is what it is. I admit I might be wrong but I thought that the Hawks ran a variety of different things in the first quarter. Even the iso sets seemed to be set up off of a couple of passes and movement. Somewhere however, in the midst of that 17-4 second quarter run all of it stopped. Now tell me how many coaches that are in the Eastern Conference Semifinals would allow a team to just stop running anything on offense?

Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk chimes in on the Hawks offensive struggles:

On the other end of the spectrum, the Hawks had horrible ball movement. They had no real direction on offense, constantly running isolation plays for Joe Johnson and their other scorers. Often times, these plays went absolutely nowhere and the Hawks wound up taking contested jump shots late in the shot clock. Overall, the Hawks took way too many long jumpers. If the Hawks continue to run their offense like this, it’s going to be difficult for them to stay competitive at all.

Andrew obviously hasn’t watched the Hawks play that much throughout the season. It is sad to say that a 53 win team can have such little imagination or direction when it comes to offensive scheme.

Phillip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily points out that the Magic were definitely not rusty:

The worry in Orlando’s camp after sweeping Charlotte in the first round and having to sit and wait for Atlanta to finish Milwaukee was how the team would respond after a week without Playoff basketball. When Dwight Howard stepped to the line for the first time and proceeded to air ball his first attempt and barely grazed the rim with his second, it looked like the Magic’s legs were a little bit behind the 8 p.m. start.

Atlanta took advantage of some sluggish defense early to get to the basket and get open looks. That might have been the only thing that went well for the Hawks tonight.

This game could simply be described as Atlanta’s worst nightmare (or as The Orlando Sentinel would call it: a Dwight-mare).

I attempted to play the rust card in my preview. That 43 point margin on the score board shows just how wrong I was.

Eddie Rivera of Magic Basketball tells why the Hawks were competitive in the first quarter:

Things were competitive between the Magic and the Hawks in the first quarter and there’s one main reason why. Atlanta was able to get out in transition to score easy buckets whenever possible. That’s it. Aside from a few put-backs, most of the Hawks’ points in the period were either layups or dunks. Josh Smith led the way, in that regard, and showed why he’s “J-Smoove” as he scored 10 points in rather spectacular fashion. But from the second quarter on, Orlando’s defense clamped down, limited fast break opportunities, and as such … well, you know. The well ran dry very quickly for Atlanta on offense, let’s put it that way.

He pretty much hits the nail on the head. The Hawks need easy baskets to help their cause. Once they stopped getting turnovers (and worse started committing them) they stopped running. If the Magic are able to set their defense combined with the Hawks limited offensive attack this is going to be one really short four game series.

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