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2011 Playoffs Bulls - Hawks : Q&A with Peachtree Hoops

Another series, another chance to engage in conversation with a fine SBNation bro-site, this time Atlanta Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops. I emailed some questions to Jason Walker, his responses below, my Q's in bold:

1. With Hinrich being out, who do you see getting the primary and backup responsibilities of defending Derrick Rose?

While I would like to believe that, by this point of the season, Larry Drew would know that Jamal Crawford can't stay in front of any PG (or play it effectively on offense either), the large part of the responsibilities will fall between Crawford and Joe Johnson, neither of which are up to the challenge, though Joe can pick his spots (like at the end of the first game this season between the two teams). Jeff Teague will start (because, you know, Jamal Crawford's a 6th man!), and you'll probably find yourself saying, "why don't they play that guy", but his minutes will be limited while Drew deploys a defensively challenged Crawford/Johnson backcourt to get more "shotmakers" on the court.

2. A lackadaisical finish to the season and several home blowout losses (including one to the Bulls) have created the perception that the Hawks quit fairly easily. Do you think that's warranted still, or have the playoffs brought back the intensity up for Atlanta?

This team plays its best only when it has to play its best. When it's a matter of choice--like say, when they are up by a decent margin or behind a bushel of points with more games to play (see Game 5 against Orlando), they get loose, very loose.

That said, I believe they'll come out guns blazing defensively to try and do to Chicago what they did in Orlando. Problem is, Kirk Hinrich is out, and in Game 1 in Orlando he held Jameer Nelson to a single point and largely affected him negatively the entire series. So if Chicago stays with it through an early Hawks push, which I believe they will, and continue to attack the softness that is the Hawks perimeter defense, which will cause the Hawks' bigs to cheat, collapse, and generally help out on those drives, leaving shooters like Korver open....well, we've seen how that plays out against this level of competition, and it isn't pretty.

3. We know the Hawks run a lot of isolation plays. How much is this due to coaching, and how much due to the players on the roster being possibly undisciplined?

We speculated before the season that when the chips were down after trying the Larry Drew flex, would Joe Johnson bail on it? Drew tried, and so did Joe, but in the end they have settled on this medley of iso and flex that usually leaves someone dribbling for 5-8 seconds before shooting from 20 feet or beyond.

4. Jason Collins was obviously a big factor in defending the Magic. Without a natural foil on the Bulls like he had with Dwight Howard, does Collins factor in at all in this series?

With Josh Smith and Al Horford healthy, I expect Collins will only play a factor if there is foul trouble. Plus, without Hinrich, they'll need whatever defense Marvin Williams can provide, so he'll start.

5. As a Hawks fan, outside of pulling a monumental series upset, what would you consider a success?

Sadly, this franchise has never been out of the second round while in Atlanta. So being that this is the third year in a row the Hawks are at this point, and knowing that with Johnson again quickly with a long contract, and management pulling all the resources forward to make as long a run as they can this season (trading Jordan Crawford, selling the #31 pick, trading next year's #1), getting drop kicked again in the second round, no matter the length, has to be considered deflating. Only winning will suffice, no matter the degree of difficulty.

Well, that got a bit depressing, but I thank Jason for his candor, heh. Make sure to check out Peachtree Hoops throughout the series.