Hawks Need More Than Just Average Joe

PORTLAND – You have to wonder if Joe Johnson is watching what’s going on around the league right now, if he knows what time it is for players of his ilk?

Surely he’s seen the highlights. He’s witnessed the work guys like Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Zach Randolph, Brandon Roy and so many others have done these past two weeks.

Johnson’s a gym rat, a guy who lives and breathes basketball. When the Hawks were sitting on the outside looking in at the playoffs a few years back, I remember having a conversation with Johnson about this very thing. He said he’d been working out one night while the playoffs were on TNT and knew that he needed to crank up his workout routine to make sure he didn’t have to watch like that again. He went in and hit the weights around 3 a.m. after watching the game’s brightest stars shine on the biggest stage that night.

That desire to join that playoff party is what drove Johnson back then. He’s made All-Star teams since, four to be exact, played on the U.S. national team and been to the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. He’s had a few signature playoff moments, but has endured more downs than ups in his postseason career with the Hawks.

If he wants to rewrite his own history, though, he could start with a star turn tonight at Philips Arena in Game 6 of the Hawks’ first round playoff series against the Magic. The Hawks can eliminate the Magic and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third straight season to face the top-seeded Bulls.

The Hawks will need more than just an average Joe Johnson to finish this job and finish off the Magic. They need the All-Star, the wunderkind that wore No. 2  for the Hawks in January and averaged 26 points on 50 percent shooting form the floor while leading them on a near month-long tear. They need the Johnson that helped them win Game 1 of this series in Orlando with those 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting.

What won’t work is the Johnson we’ve seen since then, the one averaging 17 points and shooting a combined 23-for-65 (35.4 percent) from the floor, the one who scored just five points in a blowout Game 5 loss.

The Johnson that plays without any emotion, with that blank stare on his face, will do the Hawks no good tonight. If ever there was a time for Johnson to step out of character and show his fangs for all to see, this is it. Because the Magic certainly won’t hold back. You know Dwight Howard will be in Terminator mode knowing he’s just 48 minutes away from going fishing if his team loses. The Hawks need the same thing from their “superstar.”

(You can debate whether or not Johnson fits that bill or not; what’s not up for debate is whether or not the Hawks need him to play like one tonight.)

“People can  point to Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, [Hawks coach] Larry Drew and even Jason Collins as the key figures in this series,” an advance scout friend told me. “But if the Hawks want to get past Orlando they’ve got to get a superstar performance from Joe Johnson. If he gets going … they become a really scary team for anyone that has to face him.”

You wonder if Joe Johnson realizes that or not, if he knows what time it is …

38 Comments

  1. JG says:

    Gonna take 6 guys on the floor for Atlanta to beat the Bulls… just to try and match the Officials that seem to obviously be on the Bull Payroll. The Fouls for the last quarter made it clear who was gonna win. It was absolutely unreal the ticky fouls on Mr. “MVP” Rose vs the beating of the Hawks in the Lane. Absolutely Unreal. I hope the referees look back at the last quarter… if they truely were not aware of the LEAN to the Bulls. It has to be a conscience effort to call the Lop-sided!! Would have enjoyed seeing which team could win!!

  2. london1215 says:

    Johnson has always been a great player for the Hawks, despite of what have had happen to his team. His focus, especially his eyes for the Championship ring. Now his beloved Hawks, once again sore high after attacking the (giant) Dwight Howards. They have silence the crowd, whom was expecting domination from DWIGHT HOWARD. It has been so long since Johnson and his gang got t wear they’re Own ring.

    Now, the picture starts to bring the colors of Black, White and Red. In the end there can only’ one.

  3. Law064 says:

    Good game from the Hawks, I feel bad for Dwight he did all he could. The clowns around him need to take full blame. ATL vs Bulls Chicago in 6 Bos vs Miami Boston in 5. Suprise that Mavs won but we’ll see what they do next round. Go Bulls Go Celtic’s

    • Usuck says:

      Hawks gonna fly above the Chicago… Super Mario and a bibby gonna tear off your whole Boston dreamboy..lol

  4. deron says:

    Who really expected the Magic win this game on the road? The Hawks have avenged their playoff sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic in 2010. They became the 9th team in the last 30 years win a series against the team who swept them in the playoffs the previous season

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweep-revenge-how-teams-bounce-back.html

  5. Timothy Pate says:

    The Magic can go back to Florida and go Fishing….LOL!

  6. jri says:

    The officials are gonna help win this one for the Hawks! Go Hawks ;)

  7. Bob says:

    I don’t get why NBA players don’t show emotion. Do they really not care? I can’t stand those guys who have the same dumb blank stare on their face no matter what the situation. It’s like “Hey Joe, your car was stolen”…blank stare. “Hey Joe, your house just burnt down”…blank stare. “Hey Joe, you know you can knock off the Magic if you win one more game right?’…blank stare. Him and Andrea Bargnani should have a stare off. They both have the same blank look on their face no matter what. I love the players who show emotion. It shows they care. It gives the fans a reason to cheer them on.

    I don’t care if Average Joe just sits outside doing jumpers all night, but show some friggen emotion man! You’ve been blessed to play in the NBA, you’re in a position to move to the next round. Why not pretend you care just for the sake of your fans?

  8. Shiraz says:

    lets go MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. ATL says:

    hey JuanDelacruz your team might want to make it past the Hornets first

  10. Kenal says:

    As much as I like the Hawks, don’t discredit them at all, but I would love for the Magics to get back to the eastern conference finals at LEAST. I think Dwght Howard and the Magic deserve it a little more, but deserving something goes for everyone. Who ever makes it past the first round earned it at least. This playoff season, teams are really fighting. Even the ones that lost four straight games.

  11. DJ Magik says:

    GO MAGICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • i predicted everything right so far says:

      remember a few years ago when hawks played the Celtics at home in the playoffs, he can do it 35,38,45 points is more than enough. all he has to do is keep at it. he get most his points in the first half and fall asleep.

  12. victor says:

    go magic we beleve in you

  13. JuanDelacruz says:

    I’m rooting for the Hawks in this series, I want them to go all the way to becoming the eastern conference champs too. Because when they do and they meet the Lakers in the finals it would be that much easier to secure a three-peat. hahaha

  14. Hometeam for life says:

    Joe step-up, Show emotions and hunger and the team and fans will follow. kirk Heinrich is awesome, let him shoot and id like to see him drive a lil more. jamal crawford-pls take it to the basket more, dont just rely on your jumper only, we need both. Josh-if it doesnt fit u must acquit, let the set-shot go man….go inside and make them respect you and draw some files against their starters and D Howard. Our BIGS…all need to play defense and shoot layups, go back up sometimes and draw some files and make some free throws. Al Horford, remain physical and stay out of file trouble. Marv Wlms. where r u? r u still on the team?

  15. ATL for life says:

    Joe step-up, Show emotions and hunger and the team and fans will follow. kirk Heinrich is awesome, let him shoot and id like to see him drive a lil more. jamal crawford-pls take it to the basket more, dont just rely on your jumper only, we need both. Josh-if it doesnt fit u must acquit, let the set-shot go man….go inside and make them respect you and draw some files against their starters and D Howard. Our BIGS…all need to play defense and shoot layups, go back up sometimes and draw some files and make some free throws. Al Horford, remain physical and stay out of file trouble. Marv Wlms. where r u? r u still on the team?

  16. ATL for life says:

    test

  17. Lucio says:

    Go Magics!!!!

  18. D.J. Dorsey says:

    Man Joe gotta step his game up. Ive been watching joe since his rookie season and honestly he is behind when he should be a superstar like the othe superstars in the NBA. He is 6’7-6’8 200 and somewhat pounds at the shooting gaurd position he should be a force on the perimeter and the paint. But besides that I still have faith in my hawks and if he has a great game with the combined forces of Al Horford, Jamal Crawford, Kirk, and Josh Smith we should be good to go. ( Josh Smith needs to stop shooting so many jumpers too….Take It to the hole For a change and dunk on someone)

  19. ZULU says:

    If the Hawks go back to Orlando anytime soon. It had better be to Disney World. The outing the other night was a stomach turner. Al Horford is the only starter who brings his “game” to the arena. It is hard to figure if the team quits on Coach Drew or what. Dwight Howard is not going to quit and he has stated that he hates losing to the Hawks. If J.Johnson is the resident super-star? Then he has to step up and play like it. At times the entire team makes a mockery of so called “street ball”, even. I have seen better descisions made in pick-up games at the YMCA. The players owe it to themselves to display some grit and fire, the fans are owed so much more……..

  20. Gary says:

    Time foe Joe to step up. Good point Sekou. Also I want to see a stellar performance from Kirk.

  21. dredd says:

    joe is a great player when he chooses to be…when he gets goin the hawks are unstopablle….GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  22. Realhoopsfan says:

    Lets face it joe johnson is a very good number two and not really a number one. Stop hating on joe because the organization overpaid. Also Al Horford is there leader and should be the go to guy on offense. teams need to go back to the old school days when the game was played inside – out. Al Horford shoots over 55% from the feild and is one of the best shooters in the league from 16 feet and in.

  23. bichplz says:

    You guys never cover the Magic and the only times you do you’re just hatin’. ATL is a streaky team and Orlando is all woke up. GG BIATCH

    • Gabe says:

      Agreed bro agreed. Magic are killing tonight. And you better believe the Hawks luck is up. It’s about time the 50%+ shooting choked up. Magic are still elite, the refs just need to stop being one-sided. And we need Crawford to choke up again. GO MAGIC

      • DJ Magik says:

        I totaly agreed, why can they never say nothing good about the Magic. We have a great team and dont be surprise we take it all. Hawks can never be at our level. Just got to see it this way, one way or another Florida its taking the eatern conference.

      • Timothy Pate says:

        HAHAHAHA…What LEVEL? The Magic LOST!

  24. Rich says:

    Nice try. It’s all about a team with no center and no point guard. It’s going to be hard to get deep in the playoffs.

    • Sean says:

      yea they dont have a good number 1 center but zaza puchulia is a solid back up C
      but as for no point guard, have u ever heard of a guy named kirk hinrich?
      hes one of the mose underrated guys in the league, he aint no all star but he is a good solid PG

  25. Sean says:

    Nah Joe Johnson is a good player and an all star. best of luck to him

  26. army rank: General, name: Knowledge says:

    ohh puh-lease. the boy is an average joe with a superstar salary. he never before has justified why and how he deserves the superstar label and the money that goes with it. and even yet after the contract (bad contract if I may add), he goes on the court every night and proves how daft the atlanta hawks front office really is. Well, I couldn’t be bothered for the hawks, the more fool them….’hawks, average joe and such.

  27. amy rank: General, name: Knowledge says:

    ohh puh-lease. the boy is an average joe with a superstar salary. he never before has justified why and how he deserves the superstar label and the money that goes with it. and even yet after the contract (bad contract if I may add), he goes on the court every night and proves how daft the atlanta hawks front office really is. Well, I couldn’t be bothered for the hawks, the more fool them….’hawks, average joe and such.

  28. Corey says:

    Nicely said.
    Be somebody Joe. We believe in you.
    GO HAWKS!!!!

  29. bigdave says:

    EFFORT EFFORT EFFORT…

    BE SPECIAL JOE!

  30. AtWork says:

    Sekou,

    Man…you hit it on the head! Always liked what you had to say in ATL. I hope you sent this to Joe or atleast the Hawks so they can show Joe. Wish you were still covering the Hawks for the AJC but MC is holding it down pretty good himself.

    Keep up the good work and GO HAWKS!

  31. JDog says:

    Game 6 will be make or break for the Hawks. I truly believe that this is Joe Johnsons’ time to shine. The Magic will relentless in Game 6, and I expect to see a brutal performance by Dwight Howard. The Atlanta bigs really need to step it up and body up to Howard.

    Also, I also think that Atlanta’s key role players need to step it up too. If you look at the games the Hawks have won, apart from Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford and Al Horford have managed to score in double figures. In such a pressure packed game, you cannot rely solely on Johnson to score and to create opportunities for 48 min.

    The good news is that they will have a rowdy home team cheering them on, so hopefully that will contribute towards the success of the Hawks in Game 6.

    However, if they fail to win, I think its time the Hawks prepare to go fishing.