Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Home Stretch

Sekou Smith is fed up:
Any win [like the one over Golden State] sprinkled in with all this losing is the equivalent of spraying Lysol on pile of trash. The vapors improve for a second or two and then it all starts to stink again.
Sekou has a hard job (and not just because he reads the comments to his blog posts at least some of the time). As frustrating as it is to watch this team 75 or so times a season and trying as it is to write something (relatively) new and insightful on a regular basis, I don't also travel with the team, thus avoiding both the stress of travel and developing any sort of personal relationship with the players, coaches, or staff which is what (I think) has Sekou writing:
Knowing how much serendipity is involved with success at a high level in any endeavor, I can forgive the occasional draft gaffe or late-game collapse that any organization deals with. No one’s perfect.

But the lack of institutional control [had to borrow that one from my previous days on the colleges beat] that’s gone with these Hawks is unconscionable.

Even if the Hawks make the playoffs, which miraculously remains a possibility, the damage has been done. Fixing it all, is an undertaking that’s going to require heavier lifting than has gone on around here to date.
while I'm merely looking ahead and speculating how many wins are realistically possible given the remaining schedule. Failing to qualify for the playoffs, with no draft pick on the immediate horizon and likely no money to improve the team through free agency (They may lack the money necessary to keep the team from getting worse through free agency.) could well forfeit what little good will the organization has accrued from what little segment of the potential fan base pays attention and cares. People will come at see players who deserve better be put in a position to fail for only so long.

27 and 1/53rd games remain. The Hawks are 22-32, one-and-a-half games out of eighth in the East, three-and-a-half games out of sixth. 14 and 1/53rd home games and 13 road games remain.

As of this morning, John Hollinger's playoff odds predicts it will take 34 wins to make the playoffs in the East and 38 wins to climb into sixth and avoid Boston and Detroit in the first round.

So, can one find either 12 or 16 wins on the Hawks' remaining schedule?

The remaining home games are Sacramento, New York, Golden State, Miami (completion), Miami (full game), Houston, LA Clippers, Orlando, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, and Orlando. That's four games against Western Conference teams, five games against mediocre-to-bad Eastern Conference teams, the sort-of double-header with the Heat, and four games against good Eastern Conference teams.

I'd set the over/under on remaining home wins at 9. That'd be two of four against the West, four of five against their Eastern Conference peers, both games against Miami, and one of four against the good Eastern Conference teams.

The remaining road games are at Boston, New Orleans, Charlotte, Orlando, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Indiana, New York, and Miami. Only three of those teams have winning records. Charlotte, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Memphis, Indiana, and Miami don't even have winning records at home.

The Hawks are 7-21 on the road. Maintaining that horrid pace, they'd figure win three of thirteen. Given the generally (or, if you prefer, equally) poor opposition they're scheduled to face, I expect them to outperform their season-to-date road record. (For one thing, without Tyronn Lue available to play the last 24 minutes in the next game @Charlotte, one has to like the Hawks' chances of holding a second half lead.) I'd set the over/under on remaining road wins at 4.

I'm predicting at least 13-15 stretch drive with the Hawks sneaking into the playoffs at 35-47. That assumes going 1-6 against Boston, Orlando, Toronto, and New Orleans; 2-2 against Sacramento, Golden State, Houston, and the Clippers (all at home); 10-7 against the rest of the East. Realistic?

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

That all seems to make sense, but this team hasn't been playing 13-15 level ball for months. So I'd predict they manage to lose a few more games somewhere along the way and go more like 10-18 or 11-17.

The Beard said...

Well, the team is off to a good start. Undefeated at home with bibby. Your analysis is very logical, but my optimism gets the better of me, I think they will play above .500 ball the rest of the way.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm a little more optimistic about the remaining schedule than you are at this point for a few different reasons. Joe Johnson is getting more looks playing opposite Mike Bibby and looks much better since the All-Star break. Al Horford's playing time is up slightly now that Lorenzen Wright is no longer on the roster. And Salim Stoudamire is finally getting the opportunity to play.

Of their remaining home games, they play Miami 1.05 times, the Knicks twice, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Chicago. There's no reason they should lose any of those. Boston plays their 79th game at Atlanta-I wouldn't expect to see Garnett or Allen in that game. They should win all of these games-realistically, I'm sure they'll drop one, but I still think they can get to 15 wins.