Miami Heat 106, Atlanta Hawks 85, More Of The Same

The outcome of this game was sealed early  when it became apparent that the Hawks were not going to be able to score with any regularity. Their offensive struggles have been well documented of late but they could have hit a new low with tonight's performance. While preaching ball movement  pre-game, it now appears that the offense is so out of sync that Atlanta is either over passing or not passing at all. There is no direction and no one appears to understand what the team is trying to accomplish offensively. Perhaps this speaks to a bigger problem with this team. 

I have been in Larry Drew's corner all season long for the most part but I cannot any longer defend the decision to have Jamal Crawford on the court at the expense of Jeff Teague. Teague didn't enter this game until the second half and the outcome had already been determined. Granted Teague padded his stats after Miami had mailed it in but it wasn't like Crawford gave the team anything. Zero points on 0-4 shooting in 24 minutes is just wasting the team's time given his defensive deficiencies. After defending the decision to not play Teague at times this season I now have to wonder what the kid has to do to get in the game. 

I am not sure if Larry Drew has lost this team at this point. To know the answer of that question you would have to be in the inner circle of this team but there were two sequences in the second half where I felt like Drew didn't come to the defense of his players. Midway through the third quarter with the Hawks already down substantially, LeBron James drove to the basket on a fast break against two Hawks defenders. Zaza Pachulia fouled him preventing the dunk and James took exception to the play. He barked at officials long enough that they came together and decided to assess Pachulia with a flagrant foul. 

Drew protested but didn't receive a technical and even Bob Rathbun chimed in on the broadcast that maybe Drew should take a stand and get ejected. Drew is mild mannered on the bench and exuding emotion isn't his style. However, if there ever was a time that warranted a technical it was when you are down 30 points and the opposing team is basically officiating the game themselves. Pachulia gave James a two hand push. Was it flagrant? In today's game perhaps but I dare ask the question would Joe Johnson have got the same call? It is debatable that Johnson would have even received free throws. He most certainly would have gotten a technical for protesting the call like James did but I digress. Of course Zaza could have violently slammed James to the court which is what a lot of other teams would have done in that situation.  

On the next play, an angered Zaza drove the ball emphatically to the hoop where he was fouled by Joel Anthony. Anthony clearly took the brunt of the collision and wasn't too happy about it. Anthony then walked the length of the lane and bumped shoulders with Pachulia. Zaza pushed him away slightly and was hit with a technical foul. Anthony initiated the contact yet received nothing. If there was ever a time to charge the court then this might have been it. Yet Drew protested and returned to his seat on the bench. 

To continue illustrating the lopsided officiating there was a play in the first half where James scored on a lay up and thinking he was fouled, clapped his hands and barked "and one" at the official all the way to half court. No technical. Later in the game Damien Wilkins scores on a drive, looks at an official and immediately receives a tech. My intention here is to not play the officials card because the Hawks were beaten by the Heat in every facet of the game but the way that LeBron James is allowed to officiate his own game is a disgrace to the NBA. The thing is, he is probably the most talented player in the league and doesn't require such antics. Yet like a spoiled child he never learns. 

Where do the Hawks go from here? With only 12 games remaining in the regular season it feels like this team needs to start over. The coaching staff is going to have to settle on a lineup and a rotation. Then they must stick with it and let it gel. This is the point in the season where you cut down the play book and get back to the basics. Clearly their current path isn't working. 

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