Blowout Win Boosts Morale, Energy
From the start of training camp the Hawks have appeared to have solid chemistry in the locker room and on the court. Unlike a lot of teams around the league, the Hawks nucleus remained intact from a season ago, providing a stable atmosphere to start a season that promises to provide a roller coaster of emotions.
Last week the Hawks let a big lead slip away against the Bulls in Chicago, right before the start of a stretch of three games in three nights. Then they lost to the Heat in triple overtime at home on Thursday. Then, after getting into Charlotte at 3am, they needed overtime to beat the Bobcats on Friday night.
At the end of a physically and mentally draining stretch of games, the Hawks chemistry was surely going to be tested against the Bulls on Saturday night. The blowout win helped Atlanta pass with flying colors. (Note: the final margin of 15 points did not do justice to explain how much the Hawks dominated this game. Check out a full explanation from the AJC’s Michael Cunningham.)
Re-watch the highlights from Saturday night (if you haven’t watched them yet, where have you been?) and keep an eye on the Hawks bench. As the Hawks are exploding on their 18-2 run to end the first half the bench might even be more active than the players on the floor. The only team to play nine games in their first 12 days of the season is jumping around and joking with each other like kids that only have 30 minutes of recess to get rid of all their energy.
My personal favorite was when Joe broke Deng’s ankles to end the half. Focus in on T-Mac. McGrady (894 career games) grabs Ivan Johnson (5 career games) and wrestles with him while turning away, as if to say, “Don’t watch. That’s not right to treat someone’s ankles like that.”
Here is a zoomed-in view courtesy of Fox’s X-MO:
Some great examples that were not visible on the highlights:
– The Hawks bench standing up in unison before Vlad even releases the ball on his fifth 3-pointer of the night.
– Josh Smith with some creative towel movements to celebrate another ‘And-1′ from Ivan Johnson in the second half.
– Everyone at the Highlight Factory loved seeing dunks by both Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins on the same night.
Yes, it is only one win. But at the end of nine games in 12 days, to get a blowout win like this that has everyone feeling good about their game is huge with this year’s condensed schedule.