Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hawks Start Well, Despite Conspiracy

Seriously, does the NBA not want the Hawks in the playoffs or what? Here's the rundown of their first 6 games:

vs. Mavs (Won 101-94)
at Pistons (Lost 92-91)
at Nets (Lost 87-82)
vs. Suns (Won 105-96)

at Celtics (Nov. 9th)
vs. Wiz (Nov. 11th)

To be 2-2 after that slate of first 4 games in encouraging. Even more encouraging, though, is the fact that, if not for 2 uneven performances against their Eastern mates, they could easily be 3-1 or 4-0.

I guess this is what makes the NBA different than the NFL. With enough high draft picks, you can eventually put together a decent team, especially if you can snag one legitimate All-Star, like Joe Johnson.

This team is pretty much former coach Lenny Wilkens' wet dream, 4 starters who could post a double/double in some form on any given night, and one off the bench in Josh Childress. Marvin Williams, and Al Horford are all capable of being monsters on the glass from their respective positions, and Josh Smith and Joe Johnson could do it in any number of ways.

Safe to say Horford has been a great pick. He's solid on the glass, and plays physical underneath. It also looks like we may finally see the Marvin Williams that was worth passing on Chris Paul for. A shooting guard with a nice touch, rebounding savvy, and the ability to penetrate and draw a foul. Acie Law still needs some seasoning, but has shown a daring that Atlanta's been lacking from their 1.

Still - a very young team. The games against veteran half-court squads like New Jersey and Detroit show that. The Hawks, with a style more suited for the freewheeling West, struggle when the other team wants to slow it down and run set plays. Luckily, the Suns and Mavs didn't catch on until it was too late.

They've received lukewarm attention from the national media - the real chance to announce the beginning of a turnaround comes Friday night. The Celtics have raced out to a 3-0 start against 3 playoff teams from last year. Because of the orgasmic euphoria being experienced in Bean Town right now, it's expected they will knife through the rest of the East this year like the Celts of old.

The Hawks win there, and people will notice.

I think the most encouraging thing is that they've managed to do all this without the services of a veteran post (either the injured Zaza Pachulia or Lorenzen Wright), and without the oft injured Speedy Claxton...who will surely see some minutes, when 100%.

It's a long season, but I'm starting to believe the long National nightmare is over for Hawks Nation - even if it is the NBA equivalent of Luxembourg.

It gets a bit easier after the next 2 games, so if they can somehow knock out the Wizards as well, they'll be set up for a nice season. And by nice, I mean close to .500.


Matt T said...

Even more encouraging is the 2 sellouts at home to start the year.

It is a fun team to watch when they are running.

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