Bill Russell had a famous approach to his attitude regarding playing games. He said that the game was on the schedule, you have to play it, you might as well win. That approach says a lot about how his Boston Celtic teams were not just merely great, but all time great.
Let's just say the Atlanta Hawks have not embraced that philosophy.
In fact, one might say that the team has adopted a different approach and to the untrained (read: HHB) eyes, it looks a little like this:
We are going to play the way that each individual feels like playing. We're going to seek to do the bare minimum and try to win. We're going to give effort in spurts and hope that's enough to beat this team. If more energy or execution is required to win the game, then we won't win the game.
This alleged approach has led the Hawks to look the part of a disinterested, disjointed squad---and the results have reflected as such.
Against the Bucks on Saturday night, the Hawks looked as if playing defense was a foreign language to them as Milwaukee and their roster of journeymen and neverwillbes paraded to the hoop like a charity game. Sometimes the lack of interest in defending the easiest of shots was so profound, the HHB thought the Hawks were paid promotional patsies for the home team.
The fact that the game appeared close only highlights the fact that, should the Hawks have showed ANY interest on the defensive end, this game would have been as much a laugher as the game in Atlanta was. That these Bucks shot 52 percent, scored 110 points and had a whopping 52 points in the paint tells a strong story about a team that appeared to try and show up with their talent and win.
It was wasted minutes by all Hawks involved.
We will say this---we try to find the light heartedness in the midst of a long season. The HHB tries not to take things too seriously in the context of one game out of 82.
If the Hawks don't permanently break out of the habit of taking the other team's temperature to see how hard they may have to play to win, they will go nowhere this season.
If the Hawks don't approach defense, especially in the paint, with more attention and dedication, they will go nowhere this season.
The Hawks tried to show up and win---and failed. It's an approach that seems to have become their calling card since a successful December. There could be a number of excuses why: fatigue, malaise, injuries---but there is no excuse for not being ready to give yourself the best chance to win every night. It's an attitude---and the one the Hawks are currently displaying doesn't get the job done in the NBA.
And if they need to find one that does, they should refer to Mr. Russell.