NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Ivan Johnson #44 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 22, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
I can't quite say that I have ever seen another team that needed the All-Star break as bad as the Atlanta Hawks do right now. Its important for these guys to try and gut there way through Thursday night's home game against Orlando (seriously schedule makers?) and then head into the break to get as far away from basketball and this team as possible.
I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make but this team has hardly been competitive in recent days. I have been one of Larry Drew's biggest supporters and while I haven't necessarily agreed with all of his tactics all of the time he is the coach and therefore I support him. However, I am afraid that I am starting to see many of the same things happen that we saw in Mike Woodson's final season.
The players now don't appear to be buying into anything that the Hawks are trying to do offensively or defensively. The defense hasn't been good but the offense has struggled for some time now and that was even before Joe Johnson was injured. One of the most important things for a basketball team is that they buy into what the coaching staff is selling so to speak. I am afraid that these guys suddenly have no confidence in what they are trying to get done.
Offensively nothing comes easily unless the jump shots are falling and without consistent penetration into the paint, those jump shots become much easier to defend. They have nothing to go to get something easy when things go bad and there seems to be no direction in what they are trying to accomplish on offense. That doesn't even touch on their defensive and rebounding problems but I think that would improve if the Hawks had any type of success on the offensive end. Its no fun to play defense all of the time and right now no one on this team looks like they are having fun.
Its also important to note that this team has made a habit out of flat lining only to snap out of it and play some spirited basketball. We saw that several times under Woodson and we have also saw it under Drew. The Hawks even in a weakened state are a playoff team in the Eastern Conference but not if they keep struggling as they have of late. Also if they can't get back to the level they were playing at earlier this season then it begs to question whether or not the playoffs should be the goal.
Their is still one game left to play but it feels like everyone involved with this team needs to use this break to get away for a bit but to also take a hard look at themselves and this team.