Why is anyone surprised it has come to this? It’s the post-season in Atlanta, of course the home team is going to fail, and more than likely in spectacular fashion. Playoff choke-jobs are the norm in these parts, and why anyone, myself included, thought this particular spring would be any different, is beyond me.
The only real question it seems to remain with this Atlanta Hawks post-season run is exactly where it ranks on the list of post-season collapses in this city’s annals.
This Hawks team may very well storm back and take the final two from Milwaukee and sneak their way into the second round, again. Only there they will take on a healthy and superior Orlando Magic team. If it takes them seven to dispose of an ailing and inferior Milwaukee Bucks team, do they have a chance to win so much as one against the Magic?
No, probably not.
There will be no deep playoff run, as once deemed plausible. There will be no stirring charge through the eastern conference to energize the city of Atlanta. There will be nothing to cement Mike Woodson’s place as head coach for the 2010-2011 season. There will be nothing to suggest Joe Johnson is a superstar worthy of max money and that he will receive it in Atlanta. Worse yet, there will be nothing to differentiate this Hawks team from every other Atlanta sports team, save the 1995 Atlanta Braves.
Good, but not good enough. Good enough to tease you, but not good enough to avoid immense frustration. Good enough to be exciting to watch, but not good enough to be hoisting any trophies at the end of the year.
You see, this is an old game for the Hawks. The Hawks teams of Dominique in the 80s were good enough to get into the 2nd round of the playoffs on a regular basis. They just never could get out of them.
Ditto for the 90s Hawks of Mookie Blaylock and Steve Smith.
It now appears the same can be said of the Joe Johnson led Hawks.
And in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s another Atlanta sports team that has followed predominantly the same script.
Yes, it’s a tired act, but one Atlantans are accustomed to. Of course that one hasn’t seen the postseason since 2005, and sure doesn’t appear on the way this year, but that’s another story.
These Hawks are too good for me to be writing this. There is no reason it should have come to this. They should have won a game on the road in Milwaukee. They should have come home up 3-1, with the will of the Bucks broken.
Now they travel north down 3-2, and suddenly it’s their will that appears to be cracked.
The Bucks are missing a vital cog. The Bucks have a rookie running the point, and one of the oldest players in the league at center.
The Hawks have an all-star at guard and center. They have the 6th Man of the Year. They have a player who finished 2nd in Defensive Player of the Year voting. They have the player taken #2 in the very draft that the injured Andrew Bogut went number one in, a player who up until draft day could have easily been a Buck. They have a point guard with years of valuable playoff experience.
Yet, it’s the Bucks who have three wins to the Hawks two.
Oh, that’s because the Bucks have heart. The Hawks don’t.
You don’t suddenly find heart. If you can’t find it in your own arena staring down the possibility of facing elimination on the road to a team you are athletically superior to, and thus being on the verge of a monumental collapse, you’re not going to find it any time soon.
Am I the only person tired of hearing Joe Johnson continue to harp how this team has no heart? Do you know what happens when a Kobe Bryant led team doesn’t show heart? He lights a fire under them, or takes it on himself to carry the team, or both. In any event, something gets done about it.
Joe has done neither. He disappeared in a huge game on Wednesday, and again, could only lament how his team had no heart.
If you want max money Joe, then make it YOUR team, instill the heart in them. You’ve had a few years to do that, and it’s obvious you lack the leadership ability to do it. Yet you think you’re deserving of a max contract reserved for the elite of the elite? I don’t think so.
It’s not even as if the Hawks can play the youth card either. Oklahoma City is about to face the Los Angeles Lakers with a shot at sending that series to seven games, and they are the youngest team in basketball.
This Hawks team has played two seven game series in round one in a row, and has taken on the Celtics big three, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James in the post-season. They’ve been here before. They knew what to expect.
And so did we.