I'm a day late in posting a recap but the extra time hasn't allowed me to discover anything positive about Saturday night's game. Sekou tried to do so in his blog yesterday afternoon:
The Hawks might have lost the game Saturday night, but they succeeded in delivering two very clear messages to the league’s best team and their probable first-round opponent in the playoffs.He ended up in the fog of questions that appear to have no answer that we've all, those of us who watch this team closely, found ourselves lost within:
* They won’t go quietly into the dark if they do indeed attain this playoff berth they can’t seem go get their hands around.
* They have absolutely no chance of pulling off a shocker the way Golden State did in last year’s wild NBA postseason.
I can’t for the life of me figure out how Acie Law IV could be the No. 11 pick in a draft and not find his way to the floor anytime over the last four games or how Jeremy Richardson could be signed for the remainder of the season and then be left to style in a warm up every night without so much as playing 30 seconds here or there to help the cause. And I won’t even touch the Salim Stoudamire issue. It just makes no sense.One day after attempting to communicate a new, open-minded and flexible approach to a player picking up 2 fouls in the first half, Mike Woodson sat Josh Smith for the final 7:56 of the first half and Mike Bibby for the final 6:39 of the first half. For six minutes or so at the end of the second quarter we got to see Marvin Williams, Solomon Jones, and Salim Stoudamire on the floor at the same time against Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. The Hawks were down 35-36 when Smith left the game, down 35-39 when Bibby left and down 44-55 by the time both returned for the start of the second half.
Woodson's post-game assessment:
"If I had to do it all over again, I probably should have had Bibby's butt on the floor."I guess we can add Mike Woodson to the list of Hawks' personnel who don't listen to Mike Woodson.
The most talented name on that list, Josh Smith, provided a perfect encapsulation of the manner in which he frustrates: playing bursts of inspired basketball, especially in the third quarter when the Hawks grabbed their first significant lead of the night, and also taking bad shots, turning the ball over, and committing dumb fouls bred purely from frustration. As great as Smith was in the third quarter, his first appearance in the fourth quarter was disastrous. The Hawks didn't surrender their lead in the space of that 1:31 wherein Smith missed two jump shots, had a shot blocked by Glen Davis, committed an offensive goaltend, turned the ball over, then immediately fouled (his fifth) James Posey, and got himself replaced by Marvin Williams, but it did inaugurate the near-seven minute scoreless stretch of the fourth quarter.
Smith's reaction to his team blowing a lead against Boston's reserves:
"I wouldn't say it was their second unit that beat us. It was Sam Cassell. He was pretty much the only player on the court who could score points."From 8:23 to 1:36 in the fourth quarter, the Hawks did not score a point. That has nothing to do with Cassell's ability to score.
Doc Rivers may claim to think otherwise:
"It wouldn't be an easy series."but I don't think it's going to be easier to score against an engaged Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Ray Allen than it was Saturday night against Cassell, Tony Allen, Posey, Davis, and PJ Brown.
I don't care that the Hawks played pretty well against Boston's first unit. Saturday night's game was just another example of the Hawks playing inconsistently and coughing up a chance to win a game in the fourth quarter. It would be extraordinarily fitting for Atlanta to clinch their playoff spot on a night they don't play and their sole rival for that spot loses: Pacers at Wizards, tonight at 7pm. Fire up the League Pass and root for Indiana to accomplish what's eluded the Hawks so far. It's not just the calendar that makes me think Indiana is more likely than Atlanta to reduce the Hawks' magic number to 0.