SECOND HALF NEEDS FIRST HALF PUSH
The Atlanta Hawks got off to a good start of basketball in the first half of 2009-2010. The team has found an identity, has plenty of three point shooters, loves to run, and has a guy off the bench that can completely change a game. Last year at this time, Orlando had shifted gears and was running away with the division, this year the Hawks are a game and a half behind them to start the second half.
The annual arrival of the circus at Philips Arena always puts this team on the road following the All-Star break and this team which has been a .500 squad away from the Highlight Factory, needs to bring energy out of the gate. The Clippers gave the Hawks a handful in Atlanta, and the Suns and Warriors both have a penchant for scoring a ton of points, and Utah is always tough at home. Winning two out of four would be a good place to pick up.
Joe Johnson said that it would be important for guys to shoot around and work on some things during the break so that they could help themselves and the team not be rusty. It will be interesting to see if the team heeded the advice of the captain. Additionally, Jamal Crawford and Zaza were both banged up as the first half ended and getting them both into the lineup is huge. Zaza is on the trip and will be ready to play.
The team is ahead of the Bobcats and Heat, has swept the season series from the Celtics and is in prime position to win the division and move up in the conference standings. Glory will not be given to the Hawks it must be achieved.
NO TRADE AT THE DEADLINE…GOOD
Rick Sund has had a pretty good run so far as General Manager. Keeping Mike Bibby and Zaza Pachulia, grabbing Joe Smith (clearly a playoff roster move), and oh yeah, getting some guy named Crawford to do a little bit off of the bench. If the Hawks were to make a roster move, they would need the same thing every team in the league would be looking for; a 7-footer who can play with his back to the basket and could play could defense against Dwight Howard.
The problem is there are only a few guys like that in the league, people don’t trade those players quickly, and you would have to trade significant pieces of the team to acquire talent like that. By the way, the guy who plays center for the Hawks, was selected as an All-Star. Sund did the right thing by keeping this team intact. This team can beat anyone in the NBA and winning against the Magic and the Cavs will come down to defense, consistency, and help from the bench.
WHAT IS LIKED MOST ABOUT THE TEAM
Some of the guys gave their thoughts on the team as they left for the break:
Joe Johnson-“We’ve been pretty good. We need to finish this season strong and come out after the break focused.”
Al Horford- “We still aren’t playing our best basketball yet. We play well, we play in spurts, but we need to be more consistent and I think we can do that.”
Josh Smith-“I like the way we are headed, we just need to stay focused. We really played well in the first half and we need to keep up the momentum.”
Marvin Williams- “I think things look good, we win most games we are supposed to win now and I like the way we practice. It will be important to practice hard down the stretch.”
JOE AND AL DO WELL IN DALLAS
Joe went 4 for 8, scoring 10 points, Al was 4 for 5 scoring 8 in the All-Star game. Joe did not score last year so it was good to see him knock down good shots this year. Al had good energy when he was on the floor. Both men will be back again.
MY TWO CENTS ON HOW TO FIX THE ALL-STAR WEEKEND
I know it’s over but I have to get this out. First of all you have to get the best players to participate. David Stern knows how to market his league and he loves his star players to be the ambassadors of the association on a weekend where non NBA fans tune in with the millions of NBA faithful, to watch great exhibitions of talent. While the game turned out to be a good one at the end, the events on Saturday night had many shaking their heads.
SLAM DUNK COMPETITION
I’ve said this for years get a sponsor to put up 2 million dollars (companies can do better with the money they spent on Super Bowl adds), give a million dollars to the winners charity of choice, put a million dollars cash in a truck drive the truck onto the court. The winner gets all eyes on him, the glory of helping the needy, and A MILLION DOLLARS CASH. Rich guys don’t need the money but they sure do like getting it for free. Someone suggested having a D-Leaguer in the competition, I’d be for that. That guy would put on a show for a chance at a million dollars.
HAVE A STAR PLAYER FROM THE HOST CITY COMPETE IN MULTIPLE EVENTS
Since Dallas was the host city, have Dirk Nowitzki participate in the Skills Challenge, Three Point Contest and Slam Dunk Competition. A guy could have a shot at winning a bunch of awards and a shot at MVP on game night.
HAVE A LEGENDS EVENT
Have a three on three game , a five on five in the half court, or you could or add an old school guy to the three point shoot out … just bring in some stars who can still compete and put on a show.