As you read this article, understand that this is coming from a contributor that covered the Brooklyn Nets for the last two seasons for the TrueHoop Network…
The Atlanta Hawks at this point…STINK! Unapologetically, literally and figuratively.
The Hawks at this point are moonwalking their way into the playoffs and are in danger of dropping to the sixth spot, being passed by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Atlanta Hawks lost to the lowly Brooklyn Nets 107-92 at home marking their season high seven game losing streak. The Hawks were without three starters which included Paul Millsap, who the Hawks desperately need in the playoffs. No check that, the Hawks may need him to win a game at this point. For a more politically correct recap of this game, please check out Graham Chapple’s follow up on HawksHoop.com. It will be informative, but he is very polite in describing Atlanta’s play.
I can’t say the same in my…
Lesson Number One: How do the Atlanta Hawks get beat down by these guys?
The Brooklyn Nets are the worst team in the NBA. Period. Point blank. The fact that they beat the New York Knicks twice in a week brings the franchise a sense of joy of accomplishment this year. Trust me. The Nets started the season at rock bottom (Surprise! They’re still there!) and have struggled at every aspect including holding any leads. That issue is exacerbated on the road. They almost blew it again with the Hawks cutting a 22 point lead to five in the second half…
But they are playing the Hawks without Paul Millsap.
Brook Lopez’s thoughts, via ESPN:
“I don’t want to say earlier in the season we would have folded, but I don’t think we would have done a great job holding on, and holding our composure the way we did.”
Lopez went on to say that the win…
“…shows the growth and how much we’ve improved since the start of the season.”
Brook Lopez scored 23 points in the game while becoming the Nets’ career leader in field goals passing Nets legend, Buck Williams. Jeremy Lin had 19 points in a supporting role for the Nets who after the game had won three of four and are 7-8 in March.
But the Nets are not the story here…it’s the Hawks. They are bad, they know it and it runs deeper than injuries. This team is bunch of individuals instead of a team bonding for a playoff run.
Hawks center Dwight Howard had a lot to say after the game about Atlanta’s current problems courtesy of ESPN.com…
“There are times we have to do a better job collectively of staying together and staying strong, especially when we have tough times.”
Wow Dwight! Does this apply?
Howard went on to say players…
“have to fight for each other” and “can’t allow the enemy to be ourselves. The enemy has to be the other team.”
What does this mean Hawks fans?
Behind the scenes, there are MAJOR issues. The Hawks gave up 21 turnovers against the Nets which turned into 31 points. Without Millsap’s steadying presence on the offensive end, there are inconsistencies with the offensive system of the Hawks. The strength of Dennis Schroder game is breaking down the defense and getting into the paint. Dwight Howard is a center that stays in the paint based on the fact he has limited post moves and no jumper to speak of.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. In my opinion, there is friction in the locker room and the direction of the tension has to start with the starting point guard and center. Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder should be the leaders at this point, especially with Millsap being out, but leadership from these two are not coming. These two do not trust each other and are not playing well together at all during this losing streak.
Speaking of Dwight Howard…
Lesson Number Two: Dwight Howard is so frustrating to watch.
Sure, look at the box scores and tell me that Dwight Howard had a good game. He finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds. He became the 15th player in NBA history with 16,000 points and 12,000 rebounds. But these are empty stats Hawks fans…
I’ll say I again…EMPTY!
I remember a few years back when Shaquille O’Neal used to criticize Howard for his play and his inability to dominate. At the time, the rest of the TNT panel thought O’Neal was jealous because of Howard taking over the “Superman” nickname (for the record…he was) and was being unfair.
Now we all should see that Shaq was one hundred percent right.
Brook Lopez is a good center that can score the ball. But on the defensive side of the ball, he struggles and can easily get into foul trouble if a player goes hard at him. Howard should have dominated this matchup with his physicality. For some reason, Howard has not taken advantage of the opportunity to dominate and stake claim on the game like he has shown in the past.
Take the Boston game earlier in the season. Howard takes Isaiah Thomas to the floor and showed his dominance that carried on after he got thrown out.
Well, we haven’t seen that Howard since.
Sure, Dwight Howard can angle for the Hall of Fame like he did in his interview on the Undefeated with Marc Spears. Sure we can all wonder why he teeth are still in his head after eating 5500 calories a day for 10 years. But against the worst team in the league Howard was a -13 in the box score. He can build condos with his 3-for-12 shooting from the free throw line. In crunch time, Howard is showing he cannot be trusted late in games.
Howard does give out sound advice and great sound bites about the team’s problems and what needs to be done to get better.
Maybe he needs to look at a mirror. After nearly 13 years in the NBA, the same issues and drama keeps coming out around the same time every year with different teams.
Dwight…the problem maybe you, bruh.
Lesson Number Three: This maybe crazy but… The Hawks could miss the postseason!
Seven straight losses. After the game the Hawks were tied in the loss column with the Pacers and the Bucks. A few more losses and the Hawks could find themselves in the seventh spot by the end of the week. Oh by the way, that Miami team is as hot as their logo right now. Until you see a X or Y next to a team when you check the standings online, nothing is guaranteed. The Hawks are in trouble folks.
Especially when Jose Calderon is called on to bring a spark.
…Jose Calderon people?
Jose Calderon was brought in after the Hawks were getting dragged by 22 points which included a 31-7 run over the first and second quarters in the first half, to try a two point guard alignment.
Why Coach Budenholzer? Why?
“Jose just does the right things that may not show up in the box score. Makes the right pass, makes the right screen,”…”We got going a little bit. That group was good. I think we were a bit smaller. I think Ersan was at the five and Taurean was at the four. Just a little more spacing, a little more spread. That group was probably our best group.”
This is a coach that was talking about a player that went 0-for-5 from the field in the game. Plus he was talking about a group that did not include Dwight Howard. Anyone want a pop quiz about the first two lessons? Review?
Those quotes should be made about the playmaking abilities of Dennis Schroder. The playmaking has got to get better going forward if the Hawks have a chance. Don’t get me started calling for Jeff Teague chants.
Here’s my three lessons…now learn from this!
Ersan Ilyasova finished with 18 rebounds and nine points. With Dwight Howard’s 16 boards, it documents the first time two Atlanta teammates grabbed at least 15 rebounds in the same game since Josh Smith and Al Horford on March 20, 2013.