Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Celebrate

Here at THHB, there is much to celebrate--let us count the ways.

We Celebrate....

First, obviously, a massive ball sharing experiment that left the Toronto Raptors lying in a pathetic mess on the Philips Arena floor. This ball sharing episode led to (37) assists and put (9) players in double figures, something that hasn't happened to the Hawks since 1987--leading to a 146-115 blowout Wednesday night.

The absolute dominance of Al Horford. Chris Bosh is going to get a lot of money next summer when he becomes a free agent--and rightfully so. Horford made Bosh disappear by backing him down relentlessly and scoring and then smothering him on the defensive end as well, holding the all-star to (2) points for the entire game. Horford did what All-Star big men are supposed to do, dominate the game physically and get the other team's bigs into foul trouble. He also turned on the jets in transition and blistered Toronto repeatedly on his way to (24) points on (12) shots.

The presence of a competent NBA bench. Joe Smith may not get more minutes than Solomon Jones did last season, and we can debate the relevance of such a role on the team, but there is no arguing that Smith provides what we in the technical labs of THHB call "oodles" more than Jones may ever hope to acheive on a basketball floor. Yes, the Raptors were lost defensively---but Smith unleashed a variety of offensive scores and used his length very well in his (12) point, (5) rebound showing. Toss in the play of Jamal Crawford (16) and Zaza Pachulia (11) and you have quite the talent stew brewing off the bench.

We celebrate Jeff Teague seperately because he is what the Hawks haven't had at the point since Mookie Blaylock played golf in the ATL---a fast, quick handed point who can distribute efficiently and score. Teague is what old time scouts would call "sudden" on the floor. He looks calm and still and then---wham---he bursts with quickness to the basket or steals the ball and away we go. Where his ceiling is in unclear at this point, but one of the silver linings in a very golden cloud last night was that Teague had (22) minutes to do his thing and it was good.

The outside shooting of Mike Bibby. Who would guess that Bibby would have been perfect last night, if not for a dead ball free throw miss (4-4, 4-4, 0-1, 12 points, 5 assists, 22 minutes)? Among the Raptors many boo-boos defensively last night was leaving the Hawks point guard wide open with little attempt to deter.

The return this season of the shot blocking Josh Smith. We noted often last season that something was amiss from Smith in terms of shot deterrence and seeing him in full throttle shot denial this season underscores that even more. When he is active on that end, it wreaks havoc inside for teams--and good things follow for the Hawks.

The wonderfulness that is team rebounding. Here is where the Hawks have to look every game as a key to victory. If they protect the boards, with their offensive talent, they will end up winning. The Hawks failed to do this against Detroit and paid a heavy price at both ends. In their losses in general this is the case. Failure to stop defensively has led to stale offensive possessions and the cycle feeds itself constantly until the final buzzer. In this game, the Hawks outrebounded Toronto 51-29 and displayed a dedication to crashing the boards---from Marvin Williams all the way down to Randolph Morris.

The embracing of ball movement in this game was wonderful. Penetration, pass, pass again, drive, pass, score was in full effect in this blowout. Since this is not the first game that Hawks have had success not dribbling a hole in the floor every time down THHB asks why the team fails to make this their own personal basketball theme in every game?

Some of it is leadership--in that the biggest culprit is Joe Johnson--the supposed leader of this club. It was Johnson who in this game ground the team to a halt once again in the first quarter when he inexplicably took a quick 3pt shot (defended, mind you) when the team was killing the Raptors early inside. For someone who decries selfish play, this move by a leader of the team was perplexing. Taking a cue from Johnson, the team temporarily suspended ball movement for the jump shot fever. It was the only time that Toronto was in the game.

At the same time we celebrate all the positives of Johnson's game--of which there is much to shout about. (12) points, (6) rebounds and (11) assists in a mere (26) minutes shows that his temporary lapse of reason offensively was just that--for this night.  Joe doesn't need to do this all by himself--even if at times he may want to.

Finally, we celebrate what this team can be when it's all going the right way--and it most certainly was Wednesday night. We hope they internalize how easy games are when you apply to knockout punch early (when it presents itself) and can get needed playoff rest late in the game. This team has all the talent to go far into the playoffs---only its own boundaries presented by their defensive rebounding and offensive ball movement prevent them from realizing their full potential on given nights.

Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford, Zaza Pachulia, Joe Smith, Jeff Teague, Maurice Evans, Randolph Morris--take a bow--we celebrate you today.

THHB appreciates that the Raptors and Hawks joined us in celebrating the birthday week of this blog's founder (December 4th). A finer present could not have been offered. Fruit cakes and gag gifts can be left gift-wrapped in the Comments Area.


BA said...

Mookie Blaylock? That's a bold statement, my friend- but I hope you're right!

Jason Walker said...

Well, that type of PG at least. Teague would have to step to a high place to be Mookie---pun somewhat intended---

Anonymous said...

I think an important thing to add
in your time line was that David Mc David was awarded 318 million in his suit against Time Warner...