"When you have O’Neal, who has been a six or seven-time All-Star, and [Udonis] Haslem who has played championship basketball, they have veteran guys who have been through the battles. My guys haven’t been battle tested. This is something new for our team. When I came into the series I thought we could make it to the next round. I want them to think that too. This series is a long way from being over if we take care of business tomorrow."First up, Ira Winderman:
The script entering this opening-round NBA playoff series against the Miami Heat had been about the Atlanta Hawks taking the next step, after last season's epic seven-game opening-round skirmish against the eventual-champion Boston Celtics.Sekou Smith was unmoved by the quote, especially in comparison to something else Mike Woodson said:
Atlanta was, after all, the battle-tested opponent, returning virtually intact from one of the boldest statements of the 2008 playoffs.
The Heat? It was cast as a bit player, too young, raw, inexperienced.
Apparently, Hawks coach Mike Woodson has decided to call rewrite, Sunday extolling the grit of Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Jermaine O'Neal, among other Heat veterans...As for the suddenly woe-is-we Hawks, apparently the benefits of last season's epic struggle against the Celtics were overstated for Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.
If this was some master media stroke to ease the pressure on his team, consider that mission accomplished. But it didn’t look that way to me. I honestly didn’t hear it that way. Woodson’s comments on how his team would bounce back against the Heat seemed far more interesting to anyway.I lean toward Sekou's interpretation* while acknowledging Ira Winderman makes the fair point that Woodson's "battle-tested" quote doesn't make much sense on its own and even less in the context of several hundred "what we learned from taking the Celtics to seven games" quotes this season. Mr. Winderman's relative lack of exposure to the wit and wisdom of Mike Woodson likely compels him to undertake the fool's errand of parsing a given Woodson quote.
"Our team has been committed all year long, so I’m not ready to put them out to pasture so fast," he said. "They have been committed. We’ve had some tough times and some tough games, stretches where we didn’t play well. And we bounced back. We haven’t played well the past few games. We have to find what we’re made of. Until we’re eliminated I’m going to keep fighting and I’m going to push them to keep fighting.
"Again, when we won the first game, I’m sure they were down after that. They had to be thinking we had to win three more to get to the next round. I’m thinking the same thing. I have to get these guys thinking the right way. The last two games, we’ve been kind of punched out a little bit. We have to rebound."
*And not just because he includes those more encouraging quotes from the head coach.