I should send a couple of my friends a fruit basket for scheduling a rock show last night. A trip to the Mercury Lounge precluded me from watching whatever the Hawks were doing last night when they should have been playing basketball.
There’s something about Atlanta sports teams and the playoffs—be it three straight no-shows by the Falcons upon reaching the promised land, the Braves epic redistribution of their virtually assured trip last year, or the Hawks seemingly perennial first round nail-biter followed by prompt second round exit (if the nail-biting doesn’t get them initially). I’d say it’s like Lebron’s fear of the clutch or the Buffalo’s fear of the Vince Lombardi trophy, but I think you can make a case that Atlanta’s anxiety come playoff-time is unparalleled.
This year, the tenants of The Highlight Factory, a team that’s so obviously flawed but remarkably competent at times, have pushed themselves to the precipice of defeat where just a week ago they sat in what any casual basketball viewer would call The Catbird Seat.
Having attempted to surrender a 19-point lead in Game 1, the Hawks caught a lucky break when a questionable call caused Celtics point guard/best player/dicey piece to build around Rajon Rondo to chest bump an unsuspecting ref. Game to Hawks. Game 2 would be Rondo-less. No matter, let’s exhume Paul Pierce in his prime and let the spectre snatch a Hawks defeat from the jaws of victory. Following a reasonable loss in OT without the services of the mercurial (but recently consistent) Josh Smith, the Hawks seemed poised to have a shot at evening the series at 2s with the return of arguably their best player, Al Horford, after a four-month absence necessitated by a torn pectoral muscle.
Shame on you, Larry Drew, for having poor, out of playing shape Horford contribute to the odious display of Washington Generals-style basketball last night. The Hawks trailed by almost 40 points at certain moments of last night’s “contest”—which I gather, thankfully, from others’ eyewitness accounts of the goings-on. (Lowlights below.)
This team wins, when it does, in spite of itself. It needs to be blown up. Keep Horford. Everyone else is expendable. Well, except for Joe Johnson. We’re stuck with that third tier All Star for the remainder of the contract Lebron should have signed with the Cavs. Do you think JJ texts Rashard Lewis and Eddie Curry weekly to thank them for keeping him from being an NBA punchline? Maybe he just keeps Marvin Williams close, since the former Tar Heel is an even better of example of a “what the hell was your GM thinking?”-type move.
Basketball, I hate you for giving me this sad sack of also-rans to root for. This is a franchise that in the last decade has one claim to fame: Tumbling into the 2008 playoffs as an 8 seed with a .451 winning percentage and then taking the 1 seed and eventual champion Celtics to seven games. Interestingly, every game the Hawks lost in that series was by 19 or more points. The Hawks specialize in laying playoff eggs.
Can Chipper ball?