Chat with John Hollinger
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John Hollinger (12:02 PM)
Greetings everyone ... lots of series we thought might be over suddenly getting very interesting as we head into the weekend. Let's just say I'm much more antler-phobic than I was at this time last week.
What's happening to Atlanta? How did such a mismatch from the first two games flip flop to a 3-2 hole? Will they wake up or did they lose?
John Hollinger (12:03 PM)
Here's the thing -- everyone got the perception that it was a mismatch because of the first quarter of Game 1, but the Hawks only ended up winning that game by ten, and once Skiles adjusted his match-ups to not have Delfino on Smith everything got much more difficult for Hawks. Don't get me wrong, I'm still really surprised, but the perception of Game 1's one-sidedness didn't match the reality.
Should I, as a Jazz fan, be the least bit nervous about the Nuggets winning in SLC tomorrow? What are the odds that Martin, Smith, Anderson and Afflalo all have double digit nights in our place?
John Hollinger (12:05 PM)
I'd have been a lot more nervous if Nene hadn't been hurt. Without him you're looking at Martin and Birdman, whom themselves are injured, and Petro, who isn't any good. I suppose there's the risk they could play Melo at 4 all game and score 128 points, but it would be very disappointing for Utah if they couldn't finish off Denver in the Nuggies' current state.
I know I am looking ahead but are the Suns better equipped than they were a few years ago to beat the Spurs in the playoffs??
John Hollinger (12:07 PM)
Well, they're no longer trying to imitate the Spurs, so that should be a big help, and Duncan isn't the dominating force he once was so the match-up against the Suns' bigs won't be as problematic. Plus, they'll have home court and the Mavs will have softened the Spurs up a bit in terms of wear and tear. I think a lot of things favor Phoenix this time around, assuming both they and San Antonio take care of business tonight.
did mike woodsen completely blow that game (and possibly the series) by not calling a timeout to a) stem the tide and b) set up the offense after their go-to guy and best player, joe johnson fouled out? i couldn't believe what i was watching.
John Hollinger (12:10 PM)
In retrospect, the wild 3 by Josh and the hurried follow by Horford seem like signs of disarray, but Woodson did call timeout on the next trip. To me the bigger problem was Atlanta's inability to extend its lead against the Bucks' midget lineup to start the fourth quarter.
Jy (Sf ca)
Are the blazers playing bad d or is Phoenix playing unbelievable o?
John Hollinger (12:12 PM)
Phoenix led the league in Offensive Efficiency this year by a wide margin, so the fact they're scoring easily on a middling Blazers defense shouldn't shock us. It's an inability to score that's hurt Portland, and the hope is that Roy can help cure it tonight.
John, if George karl was coaching the Nuggets I think they would have a lead in series, not very impressed with adrian Dantley as a coach, your thought?
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
I'm going easy on Dantley because I think his situation, with this roster, is a fairly impossible one. I do believe Denver would probably be up 3-2 rather than down 3-2 if they still had George on the sideline, but either way they might be hosed now that Nene's out -- if it's a torn ACL like they suspect, Nuggets weren't winning anything of note anyway.
Marvin Williams was 7-9 midway through the 3rd and only gets one more shot the rest of the game? Is he the only unselfish person on that team?
John Hollinger (12:16 PM)
It gets better -- Luke Ridnour guarded him for a long stretch of the fourth quarter. The Hawks basically made a couple half-hearted efforts to get him the rock and then went back to having the guards jack more jumpers.
Both Dallas and Denver trail 3-2 despite having positive Point Differntials, thoughts?
John Hollinger (12:18 PM)
Slightly odd but not altogether unusual for the home-court team after a fifth game due to the 3-2 home-road split, and the fact that a team like the Spurs or Jazz in Game 5 has some incentive to white-flag early when things get out of hand.
Alex (Manhattan Beach)
Looks like Robin Lopez is back for the next round - how much of an impact does he make defensively?
John Hollinger (12:20 PM)
You must have heard from the Suns while I was out of town. Everything I've heard from them has been not to expect much. They have no timetable for him to come back and if he has any setbacks his season is probably over. Sure sounds to me like conference finals at best, and maybe not that.
On point differentials. Aren't they statistically irrelevant with a sample size of "5" anyways?
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Of course ... but it is more common than you'd think in the "home-court team down 3-2 after 5" scenario for the reasons I enumerated.
Simmons and Stein have been harshly critical on the Blazers decision to rush back, because they are no contenders and have enough injury concerns already. Your take?
John Hollinger (12:24 PM)
I've yet to hear or read anything from anyone with any medical background that agrees. Everyone I've talked to says he can't do any long-term harm by playing. It was a meniscus tear, they cut away the damaged part; there's nothing in the knee that needs to "recover" in the traditional sense that we'd think of it after a knee operation. He's not 100%, as you clearly saw in Game 5, but if there's a medical risk to playing him somebody needs to explain it to me.
Which series are you more looking forward to; CLE/BOS or potential (and likely) SAS/PHX?
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
Spurs-Suns, absolutely. Not only because of the history, but because I think the winner will be this year's Western Conference champion.
Did Brandon Rush turn out to be the worst player to lead his team in minutes this season?
John Hollinger (12:27 PM)
Yes, he held off Troy Murphy for the team lead in minutes and finished with a PER of 9.65. Although folks in Indy tell me I've undersold his D.
After last night, how badly do you Fear the Deer?!?!Anyways, what was with Atlanta's fans last night? They seemed to be sitting on their hands down the stretch. Not a great way to encourage your team Hawks fans.
John Hollinger (12:29 PM)
Um, Atlanta isn't exactly renowned for its rabid fan base, but in their defense it's hard to be ecstatic while your team is enduring a 14-0 run by the opposition. One thing though -- I haaaaaate that the Hawks depend on the PA guy to act as their cheerleader during the games. "Hey, we're gonna chant defense now" "Hey, everyone hit your thunderstix" It's like they don't trust the crowd to make any noise on its own, which is probably a good idea during half-full regular season games but is counterproductive at fuller houses.
does stern fear the deer as in, does he not want them in playing the finals due to bad ratings?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
two words: San Antonio. If the league wanted to fix things against small-markets they've done a terrible job of it.
If the blazers pull off a win tonight at home, what are their chances in game 7?
John Hollinger (12:35 PM)
Historically, slim, as home teams have a dominant record in Game 7s. Subjectively, slim, as I think Phoenix is the better team and they've blown away Portland in three of the past four games. So basically, I wouldn't be betting anything I wanted to keep on Portland.
Give Brandon Jennings props!
John Hollinger (12:35 PM)
Today's Per Diem topic. Should be up soon.
Should Spurs and Jazz fans consider their game 6's at home in essence their game 7's?
John Hollinger (12:36 PM)
No, I think each team has a decent shot at winning a seventh game on the road. But you'd much rather not get to that point.
lawrence (milwaukee )
what are the chances that the bucks close out the series at home friday
John Hollinger (12:38 PM)
a little less than 3-in-4 historically; while everyone trots out the 86% figure for teams that win Game 5, that's skewed toward the team with home-court advantage; when it's the road team that wins Game 5 they win the series 74% of the time. (Late edit: And 63% of the time they do it by winning Game 6).
Clay Harrington (Fort Worth)
The league has screwed the Spurs over before. What about that no-call on Barry's three at the end game 4 of the 08 WCF against the lakers? A call not made by Joey Crawford, no less? I think all of the other breaks that went their way was just really good luck or their skill in manipulating the refs.
John Hollinger (12:39 PM)
So they've played a couple hundred playoff games this decade and had one bad call go against them, in a series they were going to lose anyway? Break out the violins ....
Mav wrecks nation (Dallas, TX)
What Texas BBQ sauce do you recommed for the Crow we are going to eat tonight?
John Hollinger (12:40 PM)
Easy, now. Dallas looked pretty good the other night and I'm a little worried that Manu's nose is holding him back.
Jared (New York)
Is Mike Woodson gone if the Hawks lose?
John Hollinger (12:41 PM)
I think that partly depends on whether his buddy Larry Brown is the new GM in Philly. If that happens I'd expect Woodson to jump with him. If not, I think there's a decent chance he's back even if the Hawks lose tomorrow.
Do you think the blazers win tonight and force game 7?
John Hollinger (12:42 PM)
No, but Portland's ability to generate improbable victories in seemingly dire situations shouldn't be underestimated.
Would you say the level of frustration over the refs this year has been higher or relatively similar to previous years?
John Hollinger (12:43 PM)
similar ... heightened only perhaps because Utah-Denver is the ultimate refereeing series since both teams employ a full-contact style.
Joe (Decatur, GA)
If the Bucks beat the Hawks, why don't the Cavs play them instead of the Celtics? Why doesn't the NBA re-seed after round 1?
John Hollinger (12:45 PM)
TV. the league could be left without weekend games for national TV if they had to wait on so many series outcomes to know the next match-up. With the current bracket they can book Cleveland-Boston and its ilk ahead of time.
Is Joe Johnson gone if the Hawks lose?
John Hollinger (12:46 PM)
I suspect so, just because it makes it so much harder for Atlanta to sell its management on operating at the tax line when the club is losing so much dough.
Is it just me, or are the Magic flying "under the radar" in the playoffs this year?
John Hollinger (12:47 PM)
Of course they are -- Kobe and LeBron still get all the attention. Their second-round series is likely to rank fourth out of four in national attention too, as Orlando is a small market and neither the Hawks nor the Bucks are very compelling nationally. They're like the San Antonio of the East right now.
Are any of your colleagues wanting to rethink their coach of the year vote? ROY?
John Hollinger (12:48 PM)
I'd say COY more than ROY -- Jennings would have had a better chance if he'd shot like this all season, but he wasn't anywhere close. I thought Skiles should have won COY and this series is a good example of why.
I know you saw the look on Joe Johnson's face when he fouled out.Does he care at all?
John Hollinger (12:49 PM)
Joe Johnson has not changed his facial expression since signing with the Hawks in 2005. That's just how he is. Or maybe he just didn't know how to react to fouling out -- he's only done so three times in half a decade.
Rudy Fernandez (Portland, OR)
Now ya see me, now ya don't! ..do I see any playing time tonight? If so, why?
John Hollinger (12:50 PM)
I think Rudy may play a bit with the second unit in the first half, especially when they're matching up against Barbosa, who is too fast for Martell Webster to check. I'll project six scoreless minutes for Rudy.
Is there any coach as stubborn about refusing to make adjustments as Mike Woodson? How can he not recognize that the Hawks are being exploited in matchups on defense due to his constant switching early in the shotclock and failing to exploit obvious matchup advantages on offense. It is like he can't see past his "systems."
John Hollinger (12:53 PM)
The Hawks have switched pick-and-rolls for years now, so expecting them to suddenly change in the fourth quarter of Game 5 seems a bit rash. As one of my Milwaukee spies pointed out to me, most teams would love to be able to do that but their bigs aren't nearly mobile enough. As far as offensive match-ups, he's been criticized for along time for "iso-Joe"but Hawks were third in NBA in Offensive Efficiency. Instead, ATL's biggest problem is something almost nobody talks about -- how can such an athletic team play such awful transition defense?
All this Jamal Crawford hype is just that-hype! The guy makes the headlines for shooting 3's so well, but he can't play defense at all. Overrated, you think?
John Hollinger (12:56 PM)
I think you'd be singing a different tune if he wasn't 13-of-42 on 2-point shots in this series, including a free-and-clear fourth quarter finger roll from two feet away last night. Crawford isn't a good defender but he's put more effort into it than in GS or NY; the problem last night was the meltdown on offense and the general inability to make makeable shots.
Clay Harrington (Fort Worth)
Atlanta's problem is that they play well offensively for 44 minutes then forget all about that and get into a contest for who can take the most ill-advised jumper.
John Hollinger (12:58 PM)
What happened last night was out of character, perhaps because Johnson had fouled out. Generally they run iso-Joe down the stretch and try to put the game away that way, and in spite of all the complaints it generally worked because Johnson is such a phenomenally low-turnover player and because his misses often were converted into putbacks by Smith/Horford/Willams/Zaza.
Most important question: How does Mike Woodson grow such a thick goatee? You could get lost in there.
John Hollinger (12:59 PM)
Better question -- how does this ability not translate to his eyebrows? The guy is a walking follicular paradox.
Why aren't more people pointing out that botched non-And-1 foul call and subsequent turnover/points off turnover essentially killed the Bulls' season? I'm not saying they would have won the series but they weren't given a fair shot to keep their season going.
John Hollinger (1:01 PM)
Duly noted. Bulls got some tough whistles down the stretch of Game 5, although on the road that's probably to be expected.
ben (los angeles)
no Lakes/Thunder questions? your take on the series thus far?
John Hollinger (1:04 PM)
Thought Bynum has been good generally and phenomenal in Game 5; given that, I'm surprised they're having such a hard time with OKC. The blowout in Game 5 just offset OKC's blowout in Game 4; for series differential is just +9 even with one extra home game. History says 3-2 team has major advantage and LA seemed like awakened dragons the other night, but I still think it's going 7.
will the Suns get any calls tonight... we haven't gotten any all series.
John Hollinger (1:08 PM)
Please, stop it people. I have questions from Blazers fans about Game 5, a game in which they lost the middle 36 minutes by 41 points. It wouldn't have mattered if Ray Charles was officiating, and same can be said for several other games that nobody will shut up about. There are going to be missed calls in every game; even the league says they're 95% accurate, not 100%. Unless it's a repetitive pattern or an egregious miss in a crucial situation, we shouldn't be talking about it.
John Hollinger (1:09 PM)
Folks, that's all time I have -- off to Suns shootaround. Stay tuned from my missives from Game 6 and [perhaps] Game 7, and we'll do this again next week.