Posted: 6:39 pm Friday, April 25th, 2014

5 thoughts on Hawks (Pacers may bench Hibbert) 

By Jeff Schultz

Kyle Korver and the Hawks are starting to get Atlanta sports fans excited. (Curtis Compton)

Kyle Korver and the Hawks are starting to get Atlanta sports fans excited. (Curtis Compton)

How’s this for irony? On a day Indianapolis coach Frank Vogel was given the Rudy Tomjanovich Award from the Pro Basketball Writers Association, recognizing his excellence and cooperation with the media, he wasn’t in a terribly expansive mood.

“No,” Vogel responded when asked if he had any update on lineup decisions. “Find out tomorrow.”

When asked again if he was still considering changes (read: benching center Roy Hibbert) Vogel again responded, “Find out tomorrow.”

OK, he was cooperative. Just not transparent.

Some thoughts going into Game 4 on Saturday, with the Hawks leading the best-of-seven series 2-1:

Familiar scene: Jeff Teague in the lane and Roy Hibbert out of position. (Curtis Compton)

Familiar scene: Jeff Teague in the lane and Roy Hibbert out of position. (Curtis Compton)

1. WHAT HAS BEEN GAINED: By winning Game 3, the Hawks are no longer a cute little story. They’re a legitimate threat to upset the Pacers in this series. Many debated down the stretch whether the Hawks’ scramble to make the playoffs would really be such a great thing because it would keep them out of the draft lottery. But there are enormous positives to what they’ve achieved, on and off the court, regardless of what happens the rest of the series. “I knew good could come from either (scenario),” general manager Danny Ferry told me Friday. “Whatever it was we needed to move forward and make the best of it. But what’s important now is we’re in the mix of the playoffs. We’re building an identity and building momentum as a program.” For more from Ferry and what this playoff series means to the Hawks in the big picture, click this link.

2. ON HIBBERT: Vogel balked Thursday night when asked if he would take the struggling Hibbert out of the starting line in Game 4. “We’ll see. Probably,”  he said. But the mere fact Vogel is even considering benching his highest paid player ($14.3 million this season) tells you how desperate the situation is. It’s one thing for Hibbert to not be an offensive force. His absence defensively is what’s hurting the Pacers most. He doesn’t have a block in the series. Hawks players, particularly Jeff Teague, aren’t hesitating to drive into the lane. My guess: Hibbert starts but Vogel will take him out quickly and goes with his smaller lineup if the results aren’t positive.

UPDATE: Vogel said before the game that Hibbert will start. It’s not surprising decision. It makes more sense to start Hibbert and pull him if he stinks than not to start him and create issue before tip-off.

3. SOUND OFF: This series and Hibbert’s dreadful performance have increased the pressure on Vogel. There has been at least one unsourced report that he might be coaching for his job. Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz invoked Vogel and his future when addressing Hibbert in his column following the Hawks’ win over the Pacers Thursday night: “It’s really very simple and kind of sad given the deep reservoir of goodwill the big man has built up in Indianapolis: Hibbert is killing the Pacers right now. He can’t catch a pass. He can’t get a rebound. He can’t make a shot, either from mid-range or from right in front of the rim. And if coach Frank Vogel stays with him, if Vogel continues to start him or play him a significant number of minutes, he deserves to go down with the sinking ship.” Damn columnists. They think they know everything.

4. THE TEAGUE FACTOR: The Pacers have no answer for Teague, who leads the Hawks in playoff scoring at 21.3 points per game. He took over in Games 1 (28 points) against George Hill and Game 3 (22 points, 10 assists) against Paul George when it mattered most. This is about Teague’s aggressiveness and the Pacers’ lack of an intimidating presence in the middle. Teague got to the free throw line 10 times (making nine) in Game 3 and the Hawks were 24 of 29 overall from the line. There was a question before these playoffs whether he was the Hawks’ point guard of the future. There shouldn’t be that question now.

5. THE GROWING BUZZ: The Hawks may finally be getting some attention in the fickle Atlanta sports market. There’s a good chance that Saturday’s game will be sold out. (Officials are even removing the black curtain to open up the 400 level. They might want to dust the seats before opening the arena doors.) When I asked DeMarre Carroll if fans have been slow to warm to this team, he smiled and said, “They’re slow but that’s fans. You have to give them a reason to come and that’s what we’re doing: We’re giving them a reason. We’re playing better basketball.”

UPDATE: The game has been sold out.

 

 

10 comments
JSSN
JSSN

Whew, for all of the past dysfunction in the ASG, they've never imploded like Donald Sterling! Oh this is going to be special weekend in the NBA!!! 

Finish them off Hawks!

TallBaldGuy
TallBaldGuy

How can they blame Vogel for the horrible personnel moves made by the team?  Trading for known locker room cancer Andrew Bynum who should just retire??  On top of that, they add Evan Turner, who never has been much of a team player himself.  Not the coaches fault, but I hope they play Hibbert a LOT today so the Hawks will beat them again.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Can the Hawks just go ahead & win the NBA championship, since they made it to the dance?

mike8472
mike8472

Wanted to buy tickets to this game but my freaking friends are not as optimistic about the Atlanta Hawks as I am. I should have just gone by myself to the Phillips Arena. Still, I will be watching this game and I have to say this with all the enthusiasm in the world....GO HAWKS!

JSSN
JSSN

Your first line of the last paragraph said it all. Most likely all of the social engineering bloggers will stay on the Braves columns for the time being. I've been disinterested for most of the year because of how beat up they were. Not having Horford has been a revelation (as it was the last time he went down). Will Teague continue this level of play? I don't  know, but it is good to see him show this again after a glimpse of it once upon a time in the Chicago playoff series. Finish them off Hawks!

honest_abe
honest_abe

great story.  first time in a while where the coaching makes you think this team is legit regardless of the talent.  i love how hard this team plays but let's be real they're undersized and there aren't any "bonafide" nba stars on the roster.  they need a talent upgrade in order to take the next step.  but all that mumbo jumbo is for the offseason.  let's go kick some pacer butt.  go hawks!

SOB
SOB

Got to love the wins, the hustle, and Teague is playing like a man posessed. That might be enough! Hope the fans come out and support them. Would be a minor miracle to beat the Pacers. Up 2-1 with two at home coming up. I think Vegas might even like those odds. Go Hawks!

Wilbo
Wilbo

I am amazed. I truly am. I believed it would be Pacers in 4 or 5.


I won't believe the Hawks can actually win the series until they do, but I never ever would have given them credit for being able to get this far.


They are an Atlanta pro sports team, so the only safe bet is that they will find a way to blow this series, but they look to be getting it done at this point. Amazing. Really amazing.

KennethGrim
KennethGrim

And the moron Mike Woodson would hardly let Teague play as a rookie.  Larry Drew did the same thing for another year, but apparently realized the kid could play.


decatur_g
decatur_g

No link for D. Ferry's deeper discussion in Thought No. 1.