Shorty after being swept in the eastern conference semifinals for the second consecutive year, the Atlanta Hawks decided not to resign Coach Mike Woodson. Woodson has been the coach of the team for the past six seasons and has improved the team significantly in his tenure in Atlanta. In his first season as coach of the Hawks, the team only won 13 games, losing their other 69. Yet the next season their win total doubled, and after a few years they became a contender in the east. This year the Hawks finished with the third seed going into the eastern conference playoffs.
The past few years the Hawks have been deceptively talented. This adds a significant amount of expectation from the fans, the front office, and the media. Yet the Hawks continue to disappoint those who believed that they could make a deep run in the playoffs. While they seem geared for success, they have many weaknesses that are exploited by opposing teams in the playoffs. Atlanta’s aging point guard, Mike Bibby, is constantly taken advantage of on the defensive end. This is similar to the way teams take advantage of Steve Nash, constantly attacking him on offense. Yet Steve Nash is a few inches taller than Mike Bibby, making Bibby a more vulnerable defender than Nash. Outside of Jamal Crawford, Atlanta lacks players on the bench who can create offense for themselves. This quality in a team’s bench is key to winning playoff games in the NBA. Without a bench that can create offense there is little they can do without Mike Bibby on the floor. But Mike Bibby is no third year point guard in the league; Mike Bibby can no longer carry the load of playing with both the starters and the bench.
Atlanta lacks a quality bench that can produce offense when their starters are not on the floor. Their lack of a solid bench and a backup point guard are leaving them disappointed in the playoffs year after year. Mike Woodson has done nothing except good things for the Atlanta Hawks. Each and every year Atlanta’s regular season record and eastern conference seed improve. When the postseason comes around the game completely changes, in the regular season which ever team has more talent wins. In the postseason the game transforms into a game of match-ups and exploiting the weaknesses of the other team. Since the Atlanta Hawks have many weaknesses on their roster, they are vulnerable for defeat. Mike Woodson may not be winning Atlanta very many games in the postseason, but without him Atlanta might not even be given the opportunity. Atlanta has been disappointed in the playoffs year after year because they lack major qualities that are used to build championship teams; a bench and defense.