Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Thoughts

I took my three-year old Sam to his first Hawks game on Saturday. The 5 p.m. start time worked with his nap schedule and a friend at work was not using his tickets, so away we went. Thank goodness that Sam was my companion because otherwise, I would have had to dwell on the fact that the Hawks couldn't be bothered to try. In a do-or-die game. In the conference semi-finals. Against a division rival.

If I would have been 100% focused on the game, then I would have been bothered by Joe Johnson going three for 15 from the floor. Or Josh Smith standing in the corner with his head in the clouds while Matt Barnes rebounded his own miss, paused, realized that no one was guarding him, and then sashayed to the hoop for a lay-up. Or the Hawks openly ignoring Mike Woodson during timeouts. There's only so much caring that I can do when the Hawks are down ten at the end of one quarter and 19 at the end of two. Instead, Sam and I paid attention to the important things, like Harry the Hawk's movement through the arena. Or the use of the Sesame Street theme during musical chairs. Or playing peek-a-boo with our rally towels. ("Now You Know" takes on a whole different meaning after a performance like that.) We played catch with a basketball in the team store at halftime. And after the game, Sam was enthralled by a horse pulling a carriage next to Centennial Olympic Park. I suppose it's a metaphor for modern sports that a three-year old and his dad can have a great time at a game while tuning out what was going on on the court.

As for the Hawks, we all need to take a breather, let this series come to its inevitably ugly conclusion, and then evaluate where this team can go. I've never been a Mike Woodson hater. Despite the fact that his teams have never shown much organization on offense, it's hard to argue with the consistent improvement on an annual basis. If I'm big on favoring conclusions based on the big sample size as opposed to the small one, then I can't conclude that Woodson is a bad coach when the Hawks won 53 games this year (the fifth highest total in franchise history). However, it sure looks to me like the team has tuned him out. Woodson said this week that he can't coach effort, which to me is a damning admission. Maybe Woodson isn't to blame for the limp effort that the Hawks have put forward in this series, but he is the easiest piece to change in an attempt to get more effort from these players in the future.


Jeff said...

Sadly I think this is going to be the Hawks high-water mark. I'd be surprised if Joe Johnson stays unless the Hawks pay him super-max money (or max money if nobody else does it) and I question whether a team like the Hawks would do that knowing the upside for this team is the second-round. Sure, they could keep incrementally improving but they are never going to get past Orlando with Howard or whatever team LeBron is on or the likely star-studded lineup Miami should trot out next year.

Anonymous said...

I am not so sure that the Hawks success this year was the simple fact that the East was awful yet again. After the Cavs and Magic there was a huge gap and then a group that included the Hawks/injured Celtics/Heat. The sheer fact that the Bucks took the Hawks seven games without their best player should have been a warning sign.

IMO you let Joe Johnson go, his attitude is terrible and he has no leadership skills. Build the team around Horford and Josh Smith (maybe trade to get a good shooting guard or a true center to match up against Dwight Howard).