Welcome
to the Hawks BasketBlog! This is where you can come to read analysis and
commentary on the Hawks as well as topics around the league. Check us out
throughout the season as we will be posting new material on the Hawks, the NBA,
and maybe a few other subjects as well. Want to participate? Submit questions
and comments to us at
hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com

and we will try to answer as many as we can!

Note: the opinions expressed here are not those of the Atlanta Hawks
organization or of the NBA.


Five Reasons To Come To The Raptors Game

5) Mini Vinnie. Hawks broadcaster Dennis Scott has tossed out the
first nickname for the Hawks' Salim Stoudamire, calling the rookie guard
"Mini Vinnie" in homage to former Pistons sharpshooter Vinnie "The Microwave"
Johnson. Stoudamire was recently named runner-up in the Eastern Conference
Rookie of the Month voting for the month of November, losing out to his former
college teammate at Arizona Channing Frye of the Knicks.

4) Homecoming for Bosh. Georgia Tech patrons got to see former Tech PG
Jarrett Jack on Sunday when Portland came to town, and now get to see another
former Yellow Jacket in the person of Chris Bosh. Despite Toronto's
sluggish start, Bosh has been a powerhouse, averaging nearly a double-double
every night (20.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg). It's funny - as much as people talk about
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony as the leaders of the 2003 draft
class, Bosh doesn't seem to get as much pub (could be because he plays north of
the border), but he has certainly begun to establish himself as a perennial
All-Star performer. Come see the big man tonight as he battles with Zaza
Pachulia underneath the rim.

3) Free basketball. The potential for this game going to extra time is
pretty decent - the Hawks and Raptors went to OT in two of the three meetings
between the two teams last season, each winning once. If Tyronn Lue is
healthy enough to play following oral surgery this week, look for him to have a
good night - he had 29 points in the Hawks win over Toronto back in March.

2) Basketball's Ironmen. The Raptors Morris Peterson (295) and
the Hawks Joe Johnson (290) have the two longest active consecutive games
streaks in the NBA at present. Bonus points for anyone who can name the NBA
record-holder in that category. Here is a hint - he is also famous for something
decidely unrelated to basketball!

1) One streak will end. The Hawks have lost three straight, but the
Raptors have dropped six in a row. Despite the teams' records, they both play
very hard and refuse to quit. This is a pretty big game for the Hawks, as they
head out on a tough three-game West coast road trip once it's done. A win
tonight would give the team some confidence to build on as they head out to face
Joe Johnson's former mates in Phoenix as well as Utah and Denver. Let's all come
out and give the team a boost to get back in the win column!

See you there! | Buy
tickets

-- The Web Guy | 11:00 a.m. 12/02/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Heat Game

5) Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum...Flash! Aa-aaaaah! Sorry, I just
really like that song (FYI, that was the theme from the movie "Flash Gordon" by
Queen). Dwyane "Flash" Wade is worth the price of admission people. In this
humble Web Guy's opinion, he is one of the three or four players in the League I
would pay to watch play no matter what. Even if it was just a game of H-O-R-S-E.
With Shaquille O'Neal still out with an ankle injury, Wade is the standard
bearer for the Heat. Contain him, and the Hawks will improve their chances of
winning exponentially. By the way, Hawks rookie Salim Stoudamire is working his
way up that list - I can watch him shoot all day every day.

4) The Hawks are offensive. Rebounders, that is! Hawks C Zaza Pachulia
is the NBA's leading offensive rebounder, grabbing 4.7 boards a game - over half
a rebound more than his closest competitor. As a team, the squad is averaging
14.2 offensive caroms a game, second best in the NBA.

3) We must protect this house! The Heat have yet to win a road game
since Shaq went down. Why should tonight be any different? The Hawks played the
Heat close in both home games last season, losing by six and ten points in the
two meetings (both of which contained a healthy O'Neal). The Heat have won three
straight in the series at Philips Arena.

2) Our game management staff can keep track of which direction the team is
going.
Sorry, but I had to mention this - if you watched the Houston game
last night, you saw something the Web Guy has never seen before. After halftime,
the game restarted with both teams still shooting at the same baskets as they
had in the first half! The Rockets scored a basket before the officials realized
their error, and after a conference, decided to restart the half. I don't know
what exactly I would have done if I were them in that situation, but I'd say it
ended up working out fine. If you had given the Houston basket to the Hawks
(which it technically should have been, since it was scored on what should have
been the Hawks goal), it would have made the score 53-52 Hawks. But after the
restart, the Hawks scored first anyway, so it all ended up ok. Definitely one of
the more bizarre things I've seen though. Not to go out on a limb, but I
guarantee it doesn't happen again tonight (I know, way to be bold right?).

1) Say hi to 'Toine. The Heat picked up former Hawk Antoine Walker in
the offseason to help their title charge, and tonight he makes his first trip to
Philips Arena as a member of their team. Walker made a trip back to the ATL last
April as a member of the Celtics, coming away with a 116-100 victory. Let's make
sure to say thank you for his efforts as a Hawk last season - but make sure he
goes home unhappy!

See you there! | Buy
tickets

-- The Web Guy | 11:00 a.m. 11/30/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Blazers Game

5) The Ramblin Wreck. For Atlanta residents who enjoyed Georgia Tech's
Final Four run two years ago, the architect of that attack returns to town this
weekend as Jarrett Jack and the Blazers come to town. Drafted by Portland with
the 22nd pick in last year's draft, Jack is currently behind Sebastian Telfair
and Steve Blake on the Blazers PG depth chart.

4) If at first you don't succeed... It may have taken till the
season's tenth game for the Hawks to get a win, but it didn't have to be that
way. The Hawks lost to Portland 94-93 in the season's third game thanks to a
disputed foul call right before the buzzer that put Zach Randolph at the line
with 0.2 seconds left to play. Randolph hit one of two, and that was the
ballgame. The Hawks look to repay the favor today at Philips.

3) Al Harrington. The Hawks top post threat was at it again on Friday.
After scoring a team-high 34 points in the team's win over Boston on Wednesday,
Harrington pretty much willed the Hawks to a win on the road against his former
mates in Indiana. His pull-up jumper gave the Hawks a four point cushion late in
the game, and his tip off a missed free throw by Tyronn Lue averted potential
disaster for the squad. What does he have in store for Portland? We'll see - he
missed their first meeting this season with an ankle injury.

2) One streak ends, another begins. The Hawks had lost nine straight
at Indiana before beating the Pacers at Conseco on Friday. Now they take on
Portland, a team they have lost eight straight to (and three in a row at
Philips). With Friday's win, the Hawks won back-to-back games for the first time
since April 2004. The Hawks can improve on that one and snap the Blazers'
stranglehold with one foul swoop!

1) Youth is served. The Hawks are the youngest team in the league, but
the Blazers can give them a run for their money. Portland has by my calculations
the most non-college players of any squad in the NBA, with prep-to-pro jumpers
Darius Miles, Telfair, Travis Outlaw, and Martell Webster, as well as
international players Sergei Monia, Ha Seung-Jin, and Victor Khryapa. So come to
Philips today and check out two of the most athletic, promising teams in the
league!

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 12:0 p.m. 11/27/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Celtics Game

5) Ticket Discounts! Who doesn't like a good ticket discount? Here at
the BasketBlog, we have been authorized to let you in on a little secret:

For Wednesday night's game against the Celtics, you can get up $20 off
selected seats in the lower and upper levels when you use the password 'Joe'
in the special offers & promotions box on the

Hawks ticketmaster page
. Check it out!

4) The DOC. Hawks fans always get excited when players from the golden
years return to town, and a visit from the Celtics means a visit from the good
doctor - head coach (and former Hawks PG) Doc Rivers. Rivers is in his second
year at the helm of the Celtics and has a division title to his credit after
winning Coach of the Year honors during four-plus seasons in Orlando. Let's
welcome him back by beating the tar out of his team, shall we?

3) Salim Stoudamire. I realize the Hawks came up short last Friday
against the Hornets, but anyone who missed Stoudamire's ridiculous shooting
performance should be shaking their heads - not unlike the way we shook our
heads while watching it unfold. Salim's lefty stroke may look odd, but it gets
the job done - and how. I've made the Ben Gordon comparison before, but let's
get to the real important question. Can someone please come up with a good
nickname for this guy? Stoudamire's 24 points in the fourth quarter is the high
for the NBA in a quarter so far this season - not bad for a guy only nine games
into his pro career.

2) Joe Johnson's Revenge. A personal story. The Web Guy saw Joe
Johnson play in college at Arkansas and remembers thinking he was a future NBA
All-Star. After the Celtics drafted him, he still thought the same. And when the
Celtics traded him to Phoenix to obtain Rodney Rogers (and, oddly enough,
current Hawks teammate Tony Delk), he thought to himself, "The Celtics will rue
the day they traded him away." Wednesday will give Johnson just another chance
to rub a little salt into that wound. By the way, neither of the other two
first-round picks the Celtics took that season (Joe Forte and Kedrick Brown) are
still in the league.

1) Instant Karma's Gonna Get You. The Hawks put on a Thanksgiving
feast for approximately 100 underprivileged kids on Monday afternoon at Philips
Arena, laughing and playing around while cooking a Turkey Day meal and also
taking time to read stories to the Kids when not working in the kitchen. If the
goodness of their hearts is to be rewarded, then Wednesday night is the night.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 11/22/05 |
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Thanksgiving Feast At Philips

Monday afternoon at Philips Arena, the Hawks players and staff put on a
Thanksgiving meal for over 100 underprivileged kids that was an absolute blast
for all those involved. Children from community organizations CHRIS Kids, My
Sister's House, College Park Housing Authority and Hillside all came to help
cook a Thanksgiving feast and then got to eat the meal with all of the players
and coaches. In addition, the Hawks players also took time out to read stories
to the participants as part of the team (and NBA's) main educational initiative,
the Read To Achieve program.

Here are some pics from the event:


Not enough for you? Check out the
photo gallery we put together
as well - you can see the smiles all
around, but you'll have to take my word for it when I tell you it was ten times
as fun as it looks.

-- The Web Guy | 3:00 p.m. 11/22/05 |
Have a comment?


Next Stop, Big D

The Hawks continue their road trip tonight in Dallas as they
take on the Mavs.
Atlanta had a bad experience against the Mavs last year at American Airlines
Arena, losing 90-68. However, there was a bright spot, as Josh Smith announced
his presence on the NBA stage by swatting away 10 shots. That game still amazes
me, especially since he managed to attain that figure without committing a foul.

Smith has struggled some to start this season, but perhaps returning to the
spot of one of his best performances of his rookie season will help him get back
on track. Dallas is one of the top teams in the NBA, but don't play with the
same kind of defensive intensity as we saw on Tuesday from the Spurs. If the
Hawks can jump out on them as they did San Antonio, the Mavs may not be able to
shut down our attack as efficiently.

Meanwhile, Salim Stoudamire continues to show his talents as a rookie.
Already he is beginning to establish himself as one of the top options for the
Hawks in late quarter/game situations. At the end of the first half against San
Antonio, the team even cleared out for him as the clock wound down, setting him
up to take the final shot.

With Joe Johnson establishing himself as the Hawks #1 option on the
perimeter, its good to see Stoudamire taking on some of that load so teams won't
be able to key only on JJ when the Hawks are in need of a crucial bucket.

Tonight's game will also feature former Hawk Jason Terry, who is in his
second season for the Mavericks. Terry is off to a good start this season,
averaging 15.1 ppg so far and helping pick up the slack for the departed Michael
Finley.

Let's hope for a win, but either way, any game against Dallas promises to be
entertaining. Check it out at 8:30 p.m. on FSN South or on the radio on 790 The
Zone.

Also, while you are waiting for that to come on, catch Hawks VP of Basketball
Dominique Wilkins tonight on ESPN Classic as he discusses a topic he certainly
know about, the art of the dunk. You know what else he knows about? Getting
hosed in dunk contests! That's right Michael, I said it!

Wilkins episode of Classic Now airs on ESPN Classic at 7:00 p.m. tonight and
then re-airs at 11:00. Check it out!

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 11/17/05 |
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Al's First
Quarter

I know last night's game didn't end up turning out the way we would have
liked, but I think I would be remiss if I didn't at least give credit where
credit is due for how it started.

The first quarter of Tuesday's game was probably the best quarter the Hawks
have played all season - and certainly was the best played by F Al Harrington
(not to say he hasn't had good quarters, but I doubt many NBA players have had
as good a quarter as Al had last night). Atlanta ran out to a 31-18 lead, with
Harrington outscoring the Spurs by himself, 22-18.

Harrington was unstoppable. He scored on so many different moves, you would
think he was auditioning for a video game. A three-pointer from the corner. A
spin move on the baseline. A pull-up jumper over Tim Duncan. Photo-negative
up-and-unders (I say photo-negative because he did it once from the left side
and once from the right, showing his ability to finish with either hand). It was
one of the more impressive offensive displays these eyes have ever seen.

The rest of the team was also playing well, hustling for loose balls and
causing turnovers.

Unfortunately, the Spurs aren't the defending champs by fluke. Once they
settled down and started feeding the ball to the Big Fundamental, the Hawks (and
any other team that faces them this season) were in trouble. After starting
10-12 from the field, the Spurs held Harrington scoreless but for a free throw
the rest of the game.

What can you say? The Spurs are the Spurs, and figure to be even better this
season than they were a year ago after adding proven playoff warriors like Nick
Van Exel and Michael Finley. But once again, the Hawks showed they can play with
the big boys, they just haven't been able to sustain it long enough to pull out
a victory - yet.

-- The Web Guy | 11:30 a.m. 11/16/05 |
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Five Reasons To Go To The Grizzlies Game

5. The Czar Returns. Mike Fratello was the coach of the Hawks during
most of their golden years of the late 80's and early 90's (The Web Guy
confesses he grew up on those teams - and still watches every minute of the
Hawks-Celtics Game 7 whenever it airs on ESPN Classic. Which is generally two or
three times a day). Much like his counterpart Doug Collins and Hubie Brown, he
takes time away from his job at TNT to coach an NBA team every few years. In
fact he even replaced Hubie in Memphis! You have to like anyone who walks around
with people referring to him as royalty. By the way, if he were ever to coach in
Russia, would he be known as the Tsar?

4. Marvin Williams. If you saw Marvin play Thursday night, you can see
the lightbulb starting to turn in his head. On one play in particular, he found
himself posted up on the left block against Corey "Mr. Universe" Maggette
(seriously, the guy has bigger biceps than any basketball player I've ever
seen). You could see a bit of uncertainty from Marvin as to what he should do
next, but he gave a few fakes, passed it in and out to the perimeter to Tyronn
Lue, then dished it off when he realized he had nothing. Two things - 1)Once he
figures out what he wants to do, it will come naturally and he will just make
the move without hesitation and 2)he is smart enough at this point not to try to
force it when he doesn't have it.

3. Pau Gasol's facial hair. One of the best parts of a new season in
any sport is seeing guys four or five months removed from the last time they
were visible to the public. Remember when Jeff Bagwell showed up to Spring
Training with a ZZ Top-like goatee? That is the reaction to Gasol, who came to
camp this year sporting long hair and a full, bushy beard. It hasn't affected
his play though, as he is averaging 20.3 ppg to start the season.

2. Darlene McCoy. Who doesn't like a free concert? Stick around after
the game tonight for another in the "Night of Praise" series of shows, as
Darlene McCoy will perform as part of a gospel concert following the conclusion
of the game.

1. Victory #1. That's right, The Web Guy is calling this one. Memphis
is the loser of two straight and played last night at Cleveland, losing by 19 to
the Cavs. The Hawks gave up no big runs to the Clippers on Thursday and know
they have a daunting road trip coming up next week - so look for them to break
through tonight behind big nights from Joe Johnson and Al Harrington.

-- The Web Guy | 1:30 p.m. 11/12/05 |
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Marvin's World

Last night's loss was a tough one, but there were some good things. Unlike
the previous losses (forget the one against Portland, there is nothing the Hawks
could do about that one) where a huge run put the game away for the opposition,
nothing like that happened against the Clippers. There were no big spurts, no
string of terrible turnovers, no ice-cold shooting stretches. The Clippers just
grabbed the lead and maintained, and every time the Hawks rallied the Clippers
had an answer.

Good teams win because they are good, and because they are lucky. A lot of
the time, they make that luck for themselves. I mention this, because that was
certainly the Hawks' problem last night. Every time they got a stop or the ball
starting careening like a pinball, it would somehow end up in the hands of the
opposition. For us to start getting some W's, we need to start getting some of
those bounces going in our direction.

The rookies played pretty well last night, as both Marvin Williams and Salim
Stoudamire hit double figures. Williams drove the lane with authority a couple
of times, drawing contact for potential three-point plays. Stoudamire, showing
his fearlessness, dropped in about a 30-ft bomb near the end of the game as the
Hawks feverishly tried to rally. It was pretty impressive - he didn't heave it;
he just pulled up and shot, much like a guard running the break might pull up
from the free throw line.

The point is, the Hawks effort was consistent throughout the entire game, and
the coaching staff had to like that - or at least The Web Guy did.

Speaking of Marvin, check out the
latest installment of
his rookie diary
. He answers a bunch of questions you wrote in, so keep
them coming and he will continue to answer as many of them as he can.

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 11/11/05 |
Have a comment?




Tonight, the Clippers.

A few things to talk about today. First things first, in a new feature I hope
to do before every home game this year, I present to you...

Five Reasons To Go To Tonight's Game

5. Clippers center
Chris
Kaman
.
I don't know what it is, but I am always fascinated by NBA players who don't
"look" the part. Check out his
player
profile
, you will see what I'm talking about - the long flowing locks just
seem out of place on the NBA hardwood. He's actually a pretty solid basketball
player, and will always have a special place in my heart after I picked him and
his Central Michigan teammates as an upset pick in my 2003 NCAA Tournament pool.

4. Al Harrington. Harrington didn't play last Friday in the 92-77
loss at Los Angeles. Now, I'm not the smartest guy on the planet, but Harrington
averages 18 points per game. The Hawks lost that game by 15. Put in Al and we
win by 3, right? Isn't that how it works?

3. Stoudamire's acrobatics. We all know that Josh Smith can get up,
but did anyone see

Salim Stoudamire's venture into the lane
against the Lakers Tuesday night?

2. Hawks PA Announcing extraordinaire Ryan Cameron. Normally the PA
Announcer isn't high on the list of reasons to see a basketball game, but The
Web Guy takes his hat off to Cameron, who put on an impressive performance
during the home opener. When a malfunction caused the shotclock, scoreboard, and
game clock to shut down, Cameron took it all in stride, calling out the score
and time as if it were the most natural thing for him to do in the world. Anyone
who can improvise on the fly like that (in front of a sell-out crowd no less) is
ok in my book.

1. Levenson's promise. This summer, right after the Joe Johnson
signing, Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson wanted to show the fans his commitment to
improving the team and getting fans to come out and support the team. So, he
devised a ticket offer on his own for tonight's Clippers game, getting on a
Hawks message board and offering $55 dollar seats in the lower bowl for $10
(paying the difference out of his own pocket). Levenson sold 571 tickets to
tonight's game, and the fans who took him up on the offer will be wearing
t-shirts they made for the event. During the game, Levenson (who will also don
the t-shirt) will join the fans and select two of them at random each quarter to
join him courtside. Not to drink the kool-aid, but I for one think that's pretty
cool. We will get some pics of it tonight and put them up tomorrow.

Also, I had a chance to talk to Hawks C Zaza Pachulia
after the morning shootaround about facing the Clippers twice in one week. Here
is a transcript:

The Web Guy: Does it help to play a team so soon after playing them the
first time?

Zaza Pachulia: I don't know if it makes a difference. We still run the
same plays, the same system. We have to execute no matter who the opponent is.

TWG: But does it help you to have them so fresh on your mind?

ZP: Oh yeah. I remember what we did wrong against them on Friday, so I
know we need to come out and make those adjustments. We need to do better on the
glass, they really beat us on second chance points last game, so we have to do
better on boxing out and not giving up extra opportunities to win.

TWG: Anything else you see as a key to victory tonight?

ZP: We need to use our athleticism more. If we get a stop, we should
get out and run, because our athleticism is an advantage we have over a lot of
teams.

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 11/10/05 |
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Leftovers From The Opener



Hawks owners Rutherford Seydel, Todd Foreman, Michael Gearon,
Bruce Levenson, and Ed Peskowitz with Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin

Hope everyone enjoyed the blog from last night, I know it was fun to write. We
have put up a

photo gallery from the opener
- a lot of celebs and big shots on hand
for sure!

-- The Web Guy | 4:00 p.m. 11/09/05 |
Have a comment?




Wrap-Up

The game got away from the Hawks in the second half (though they did make a
nice run towards the end to cut the final deficit to 103-97), but again there
are positives to take away from this game:

- Joe Johnson. Hawks fans in attendance tonight got a taste of what's
in store for them over the next half-dozen years, as the smooth-as-silk guard
led the team with 26 points on the night and looked more and more comfortable in
the distributor role. Several times during the game he drove the lane and dished
to an open shooter, and it will be up to his teammates to pad his assist totals
by making those shots.

- Al Harrington. On this team it's sometimes hard to remember that
Harrington is only 25 years old. But he has taken on the role as the team's
elder statesman, coming out to talk to the fans before the game much like Kevin
Willis did at the start of last year's home opener. Harrington ended the night
with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but more importantly showed himself as a true
threat on the blocks to help the Hawks establish an inside-outside game.

- Athleticism. This team is very athletic, and has the potential to be
very entertaining (and productive) in the open court. The quicker the guys get
used to each other, the sooner we will start to see a barrage of highlights much
like we saw with Josh Smith a year ago. Even 6-1 rookie Salim Stoudamire has the
hops to get up and throw it down.

The Hawks will have to continue to work on their defense to get them stops
when the offense isn't clicking, but as early as it is in the season, these guys
are still getting to know each other. Though tonight got away, methinks a
victory is on the horizon. Let's see what happens on Thursday against the
Clippers.

That will just about do it from Philips Arena for tonight - I hope you
enjoyed blogging with me throughout the home opener! We will be doing this again
during the season, so let me know what you liked and didn't like and perhaps we
can change it up to fit your needs.

Good night!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 p.m. 11/08/05 |
Have a comment?




The Kobe Show

Bryant is taking over. I hate to say it, but it's true. He got many of his
points in the first half by getting to the free throw line, but in the second
half he has scored on a variety of drives, pull-ups, and fadeways to stand at 35
points with just under nine minutes left to play. He may not be the most popular
player in the league (the fans have booed him fairly frequently throughout the
contest), but there is no shame in his game. He has a fluidity that is downright
Jordan-like, which I only say because earlier in the game he switched hands on a
lay-up that was eerily reminiscent of His Airness against the Lakers in 1991.

However, he just picked up his fifth foul, and a Joe Johnson drive and
three-point play has cut the lead back to nine with 8:23 left.

Can the Hawks make a run?

-- The Web Guy | 9:30 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Hustle and Flow

To look at Zaza Pachulia, you would think he had just fought 15 rounds. I'm
not knocking his looks, I'm merely saying he looks like a rugged dude. When the
Hawks lost Jason Collier, they not only lost a great person and teammate, but
they also lost a guy who never hesitated to get down and dirty. Well, Pachulia
may not be able to replace Collier's shooting, but he has certainly shown a
knack for, to use a football expression, getting his uniform dirty. Between he
and Esteban Batista (whom Hawks teammates have dubbed "El Toro"), the Hawks do
have a pair of bangers down low who are fearless.

The Lakers have started to pull away a little in the third, leading by 12
with just over a minute left in the quarter. This is the situation where the
Hawks have to learn not to get rushed and stay with their game. We saw this
happen often last year, where the Hawks would stay with an opponent for nearly
an entire game but would be felled by one big spurt at a critical juncture in
the game. The team is more talented this season, so if they can keep those
spurts from happening (or reduce their size and scope), they will have a much
better chance of coming out with some victories.

-- The Web Guy | 9:15 p.m. 11/08/05 |
Have a comment?




Rubber Boy

Tonight's
halftime entertainment is
Rubber Boy.
I really don't know what to say about this guy. It is either the most amazing
thing I have ever seen or the most disturbing. There is no middle ground. Have
you ever watched a magician like David Blaine and found yourself wondering, if
just for a brief moment, what if it really is magic? Like what if he actually
has magic powers? (Yeah, uhhhhh, me either). Well, that's how I feel watching
Rubber Boy. The human body is not meant to bend this way! I mean, what if he is
one of the X-Men? I bet he makes a solid little living for himself when not
having to battle Magneto and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. By the way, when your last
name is spelled Romijn and you pronounce it "Romaine", you should be required to
play hockey.

At the half, it's Hawks 51-48, which is about where it should be. Kobe has
been, well, Kobe so far, but the Hawks are spreading the wealth on offense to
maintain the lead.

If they can keep the balance in the second half, they are where they need to
be to get that first W.

-- The Web Guy | 8:45 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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How To Beat The Lakers, By The Web Guy

Whenever you face a scorer like Kobe Bryant, the general question is this: do
you try to stop him, or do you let him get his and try to stop his teammates. So
far the Hawks are trying the former approach (or so it appears), as the Lakers
have 37 points and Kobe has 18 of them.

In a somewhat unrelated story, I once saw Wally Szczerbiak play two games in
the NCAA Tournament in New Orleans. In the first game against a team not good
enough to remember (translation: I don't have time to look it up), said team
tried to stop him and not his teammates, and his teammates came through, scoring
just enough to get Miami, OH to the second round. In the second round against
Utah, the Utes took the opposite approach, and Szczerbiak dropping 40+ in taking
his squad to the Sweet 16. What's my point? Sometimes it doesn't matter which
you choose. But with the Hawks leading right now (45-43 with 4:03 left in the
half), it appears to be doing the job.

-- The Web Guy | 8:25 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Hawks 29, Lakers 25

Well, the first quarter is over, and the Hawks are in the lead. That's the
good news. The bad news is they led 29-19 with just over two minutes left, and
now a 6-0 run by the Lakers to close the quarter has cut the lead to just four.
Coach Woodson has preached to this team the importance of finishing off
quarters, and the first frame showed some of the Hawks youth as the Lakers made
their charge.

Still, a lot to be happy about. Joe Johnson played the point for the last
half of the quarter and got several open looks for his teammates. He also showed
some flair off the dribble of his own as he matched up against Kobe (who is no
slouch on defense himself - he is perennially on the NBA's Defensive First
Team), juking him a couple times for short floaters or jumpers.

The best play of the quarter? That would probably be Salim Stoudamire driving
the left baseline and going up amongst the trees for a spinning double-clutch
layup. The move brought a collection of oohs from the fans, and rightfully so.

-- The Web Guy | 8:00 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Joe vs. Kobe...

I mentioned it this afternoon (scroll down, you will see it), but the Joe
Johnson-Kobe Bryant matchup is worth watching. We just got a glimpse of it, as
Bryant got isolated on the wing against JJ. Bryant gave an assortment of
shimies, shakes, and pump-fakes, but Johnson won the battle as Kobe tossed up an
errant fade-away from the baseline as the shot clock expired.

Joe Johnson 1, Kobe Bryant nothing.

-- The Web Guy | 7:45 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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First Quarter Underway...

5 minutes into the first quarter, and there is a ton to like so far. The
first two trips down the floor the Hawks got to the rack for a basket and a
foul, first by Zaza Pachulia and then by Josh Childress. Later, after Pachulia
picked up two fouls, Marvin Williams made his debut at home by calmly draining a
20-foot jumper. I know its early, but I have to say, Marvin is really impressing
me so far. His first outing at home was an exhibition loss to Orlando back in
October, and he looked every bit the part of a 19-year old who could be starting
his sophomore year in college. Just a few weeks later though, he looks more and
more confident with every possession. He definitely has a chance to make an
impact on the team this season.

Joe Johnson is looking good as well, draining a couple jumpers including a
three-pointer while getting fouled (though he missed the FT). With Zaza out, we
are also seeing a preview of some of the enticing lineup combinations this
year's team can provide. Right now the Hawks have T-Lue at the point with
Harrington, Johnson, Childress and Williams on the floor - a lot of athleticism
if not a ton of height, and they appear to be giving the Lakers fits.

19-15 with half the quarter gone by, and things are looking good..

-- The Web Guy | 7:40 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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A Tribute To Jason Collier...

You knew this would be the most emotional part of the night - right after the
national anthem, the Hawks paid tribute to their teammate Jason Collier, who
died October 15th. After a moment of silence, a bagpipe player came out and
played Amazing Grace at center court while the video screen showed a montage of
highlights of him as a player, family man, and community member.

Afterwards, Al Harrington came out and spoke to the effect Collier had on the
team and made a promise to Jason's wife and daughter that the team will do their
best to honor the memory of the big fella.

The Hawks announced they will no longer give out Collier's number (#40) to
players, and the Hawks Community Service award was named to honor him as well.

We will definitely miss JC, and hopefully the guys will be able to honor his
memory throughout the season by playing the way he always did - unselfishly and
with a ton of hustle.

-- The Web Guy | 7:30 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Let's Get It Started...

Ok, who's ready to light this candle? It's The Web Guy here, ready to blog up
the home opener tonight for the Hawks. You may remember me from such previous
blogs as the 2005 NBA Draft, and well, that's about it so far (other than the
various posts I have done on a semi-daily basis). But we will see how this goes
tonight, and hopefully I will be back for more game-night blogs in the near
future.

As I type this, the players are just running onto the court to start lay-up
drills. Opening night is always interesting, as you get to see all the new pops
and buzzers put together by the game night staff just as you get to see the new
haircuts, tats, and moves of the players.

If you have read this blog before, you have heard me (read me) talk about the
two Joshes - Childress' afro is a little tighter this year, though he says it
will grow out as the season progresses. Josh Smith looks decidedly bigger
physically, which shouldn't be that big of a surprise since he is only 19. The
Web Guy himself got bigger around that age, though probably for different
reasons than J-Smoove.

The Hawks (obviously) are in need of a win tonight, for several reasons. But
perhaps the biggest one is the crowd - a capacity audience will be on hand for
the game tonight, and an impressive performance by the home team will hopefully
convince many of them to book a return engagement to Philips Arena. Not to
mention the confidence boost it will give the guys to gain a quality W over a
team with a superstar like Kobe Bryant.

Ok, I'm going to conserve my fingers for a few. I will be back for the start
of the action in just a little while!

Also, don't forget to
submit questions
for me
to answer if you have them!

-- The Web Guy | 6:45 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Kobe Komes To Town

The Web Guy, for one, is excited about tonight's game. Having worked for the
Hawks organization since the summer of '04, the only home game I have seen
against the Lakers was last season, when Kobe Bryant was injured and didn't play
(it was an interesting game to say the least - the Hawks built a 29-point lead
in the first half, only to see the Lakers come all the way back before
prevailing in the end).

The NBA is always searching for the New Best Thing, and over the last couple
years the emergence of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has sort of left Kobe back
out of the spotlight.

Kobe is healthy this year, and with Phil Jackson back in tow, promises to be
part of one of the more intriguing subplots for the entire season. Namely, have
bygones been let be bygones? (Is that a sentence?).

On the one hand, Kobe has a MJ-like ability to focus, drowning out everything
in the background to play his game at the highest level. On the other hand, it's
hard to imagine going to work every day with a guy who basically wrote a book
(and a national best-seller at that) about your dysfunctionality (Is that a
word?) and not harbor some resentment. I know it does for me - my boss wrote a
book entitled "Fixing Typos - A Season With The Web Guy", and we haven't
made eye-contact since.

Either way, I am excited to see Kobe play in the flesh, and in particular
excited to see the matchup between him and Joe Johnson defensively. People may
talk about what they hope Johnson provides for the Hawks on the offensive end,
but don't forget that he is a top-notch defender as well with the size and
quickness to stay with Kobe (or at least as much as anyone is going to stay with
Kobe).

* * * * * *

Went to shootaround this morning, and got a few sound bites from the guys
talking about the home opener tonight, which by the way is a sellout. Salim
Stoudamire talked about
finding his offensive groove
, Joe Johnson talked about
how to be successful

against the Lakers on defense, and Coach Woodson talked about
the need to defend
the home court
.

-- The Web Guy | 3:45 p.m. 11/08/05 |
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Injuries Abound


As the season's first week comes to a close, we are already seeing a rash of
the deadly I-word starting to affect teams. Injuries. The bane of every
basketball player, coach, and fan's existence, injuries do more to cause people
to scratch their heads and ponder "What if..." than anything else.

Already in just five days, we have seen:

  • Tracy McGrady get shut down for three weeks with back spasms
    (Incidentally, anything that includes the word "spasm" just has to hurt like the
    dickens. It just sounds painful)
  • Amare Stoudemire require
    microfracture surgery on his knee that may keep him out almost the entire season
  • Shaquille O'Neal go down with an ankle injury that will limit him for the
    next 2-4 weeks

    The Hawks have succumbed to the injury bug as well, as Al
    Harrington has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle, though he
    doesn't figure to be out nearly as long as the previously mentioned players.

    All in all, injuries are just a reminder of how much needs to go right for a
    team to have success in the NBA (or any other league, for that matter). Just
    look at the Suns, who many believe might have toppled the Spurs in last year's
    Western Conference Finals if they'd had a healthy Joe Johnson - something
    the Hawks hope they will have all season long.

    As we count down to the Hawks home opener tomorrow night, don't forget to
    submit your email questions to The Web Guy, who will be blogging the game
    live and hoping to use part of the game to answer a few of them. And, though
    he'd love for you to read his blog as it happens, here are some

    reasons why you should attend the game
    in the flesh instead.

    Also, don't miss the season debut of the
    Weekly
    Rewind
    , posted every Monday during the season. The Rewind will preview
    upcoming games, take a look back at the week that was, and include lots of short
    interviews, Hawks tidbits, and photos throughout the season!

    -- The Web Guy | 3:25 p.m. 11/07/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Opening Remarks


    Last night's game was on the West Coast. If you didn't stay up to see it
    and only saw the final score (Golden
    State pulled away to win 122-97
    ), I'm sure you were shaking your head at
    your bowl of cornflakes saying, "Same old Hawks."

    Well, I disagree. Yes, the end result is clearly not what we were hoping for,
    but there were definitely positives to be found in the season opener. To whit:

    - Marvin Williams. The #2 pick in the draft had a stellar first game as a
    pro, popping for 12 points and 6 rebounds. Those are decent stats, but more
    importantly, at least to these eyes (which happen to have 20/15 vision), was the
    confidence he appeared to play with. His first basket of his NBA career was a
    take-it-strong-to-the-hoop basket that drew a foul as well. A few times over the
    course of the game he got the ball in open spots and shot without hesitation,
    which was nice to see. The fact that he also made a few didn't hurt either.

    - Al Harrington. Harrington looked like any trouble he had with his knee
    from last year was gone, as he was arguably the best player on the court during
    the first half (Golden State's Jason Richardson might argue with that - he
    looked like an absolute All-Star). I know it's hip to say that

    Harrington will play well this season
    because it's a contract year, but
    I think it has just as much to do with his general health as well. Remember,
    Harrington is only 25. 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals is a nice
    start to what will hopefully be a career year for him.

    - Zaza Pachulia. Zaza put together a double-double in his debut for the
    Hawks (13 points and 12 rebounds), and showed tremendous hustle as well as a
    nice variety of post moves. He got caught a few times trying to do too much, but
    overall he looked capable of putting up similar numbers every time out.

    - Josh Smith's jumper. Similar to Marvin's confidence, J-Smoove's lack of
    hesitation in taking perimeter shots bodes well for his development. He hit his
    first jumper of the evening, and if teams have to begin respecting his shot it
    will do nothing but open up the lane for him to penetrate (and we all know what
    can happen when he gets to the basket).

    So bottom line, any loss is bad and the defense has some work to do, but there
    are still positives to take away. Let's just see what happens tomorrow night in
    Los Angeles.

    -- The Web Guy | 11:45 a.m. 11/03/05 |
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    One More Day!


    The Hawks practiced today for the last time before they boarded the team
    plane to head to the Left Coast for the season opener, tomorrow night against
    Golden State. The guys seem loose. As part of a preview thing I am doing for the
    site (should be up tomorrow), I asked a bunch of them for some predictions for
    the season around the league - MVP picks, Rookie of the Year, etc.

    One thing I asked them was, which team do you think will do better than people
    are expecting.

    To a man, every player I asked said, "The Hawks." Now I realize that sounds like
    something anyone would say about their team, and perhaps there is some truth to
    that. But to listen to them, you can tell they really believe it. These guys
    really believe they are going to surprise some folks this year.

    Personally, I can't blame them. Last year's team, to be fair, was behind the
    eight ball in a lot of ways, and all of those factors weighed in to a 13-69
    season. Yet despite the issues, anyone who saw the Hawks play last year knows
    they were in a lot of games until the end. It is a credit to the coaching staff
    and the players that they never gave up and continued to fight down till the end
    of the season, even taking out the playoff hopes of the Minnesota Timberwolves
    during the closing days of the season.

    This year the talent is improved, there is no doubt about it. Joe Johnson and
    Salim Stoudamire are both great additions to the Hawks' perimeter game.
    Stoudamire in particular looks fearless, which is definitely a good sign for a
    rookie coming into the league. Some have compared his potential to the way Ben
    Gordon performed with the Bulls last season (continuing the tradition of other
    bench fireplugs like Vinnie "the Microwave" Johnson and Eddie Johnson).

    The inside game will miss Jason Collier (as will the locker room). But Zaza
    Pachulia has certainly shown flashes throughout the preseason that warrant the
    four-year contract the Hawks gave him in the offseason.

    The point is, when the guys on the team say they think they are going to
    surprise people, you can see in their eyes they have the confidence to back it
    up. Starting tomorrow night, they will have a chance to show the rest of the
    league they are right.

    -- The Web Guy | 5:15 p.m. 11/01/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Questions...


    Last week we
    looked at the Hawks division rivals
    - so today, let's look around at the
    rest of the Eastern Conference and see what shape the other teams are in as the
    season gets set...

    Boston Celtics
    Q: What will they do with Paul Pierce?
    A:
    Pierce is one of the top talents in the NBA, but there have been rumors
    that he is perhaps not long for the New England area. There is a lot of young
    talent in Boston, including Al Jefferson and top pick Gerald Green, but Pierce
    is still the focal point of this team. If the team finds it is still in
    rebuilding mode, they may decide to go all the way and trade him away for more
    picks or other projects. But look for him to stay put if the Celtics get off to
    a good start.

    Chicago Bulls
    Q: Can the Baby Bulls continue to grow up?
    A:
    The Bulls, after years of unfulfilled promise, finally made good last
    season with their first playoff appearance since MJ left the building. Many of
    the pieces return for another run at the postseason, but the offseason trade of
    Eddy Curry to New York leaves a hole in the middle. Can Tyson Chandler fill that
    space? The Bulls are certainly banking on it, having dished out a long-term
    extension to the 7-1 post player over the offseason. Another player to watch out
    for is second-year swingman Luol Deng. Deng was off to a very promising start in
    his rookie year before injuries cut his season short. Expect him to play a very
    large role if Chicago is to better their performance from a year ago.

    Cleveland Cavaliers
    Q: Now do they have enough to surround LeBron?
    A:
    Well, if they don't, it won't be for a lack of effort. The team went out
    and signed Larry Hughes to a big contract in the offseason, hoping to turn the
    all-star from the Wizards into the Scottie Pippen to James' Jordan. As always,
    this team will go as LeBron goes. Last season that was pretty good until late in
    the season when James had to do everything himself, running out of steam a game
    to early as the Cavs missed the playoffs by tiebreaker. James has still yet to
    taste the postseason in his first two years, but with Hughes on board to lighten
    his load (as well as the versatile and underrated Donyell Marshall), King James
    should have that opportunity this year.

    Detroit Pistons
    Q: How will an offseason coaching change affect this team?
    A:
    If you were perhaps trapped under a rock this summer, you may not know
    that Larry Brown left the Pistons for the New York Knicks. In his place is
    former Minnesota headman Flip Saunders, a coach with a similar record for
    winning but a much different approach to player relations. Can he keep the
    Pistons functioning as a seamless, sum-is-bigger-than-the-parts team? Brown was
    able to get everyone to buy into that system in his two years in Detroit, and it
    brought them a title. Saunders certainly has experience dealing with egos, as he
    led the Timberwolves trio of Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, and Latrell Sprewell to
    the Western Conference Finals two seasons ago. If he can get the same commitment
    from his charges in the Motor City, the Pistons will have a very good chance at
    getting back to the promised land.

    Indiana Pacers
    Q: Will Ron Artest behave?
    A:
    There is no need to get back into what happened last year, its all been
    said and done. The fact that Indiana was able to make it as far as they did
    without arguably their best player is a testament to the coaching of Rick
    Carlisle and his staff and his team's ability to band together in the face of
    adversity. If all that remains constant, AND you add back in a player in Artest
    who can score 25 a game plus play some of the best defense in the league, then
    you have a legitimate title contender, much like they were at the beginning of
    last season. They will definitely miss Reggie Miller's timely shooting, but
    incoming guard Sarunas Jasikevicius (man am I glad I don't work for the Pacers)
    should alleviate some of that missing grit. He is the reigning MVP of the
    European League, and is no stranger to taking tough shots, as he proved in
    leading Lithuania to the gold medal in last summer's Olympic Games.

    Milwaukee Bucks
    Q: Is TJ Ford healthy?
    A:
    Ford was one of the top rookies in the league two seasons ago before an
    injury caused him to miss the entire 2004-05 season. Ford has been cleared to
    rejoin the Bucks though, and if he can return to the form that made him National
    Player of the Year at Texas, the Bucks will be a dangerous team. The late
    addition of Jamaal Magloire will give the Bucks one of the top frontcourt
    tandems in the East if overall #1 pick Andrew Bogut can play to the level many
    think he can. But Ford will be the oil that revs this team's engine, and his
    health will go a long way towards determining how the team fares. Incidentally,
    new head coach Terry Stotts will get his second chance after helming the Hawks
    for parts of two seasons.

    New Jersey Nets
    Q: Are there enough shots for Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter?
    A:
    The Nets only played a portion of their season last year with both of
    their hyper-athletic wingmen, as Jefferson got hurt soon after Carter arrived
    and didn't make it back until the playoffs. Both play a very similar game, but
    if point guard-extraordinaire Jason Kidd can find a way to keep them both happy,
    the Nets will have the best perimeter combo in the entire league. If they can't
    all learn to share...well, remember what happened to Kidd when he was in Dallas
    with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn. I'll just leave it at that.

    New York Knicks
    Q: How much difference can one man make?
    A:
    As we mentioned earlier, Larry Brown is now in New York for his eighth
    head-coaching stop in the NBA. One more team and I believe he gets a free set of
    steak knives. Brown has had success at every single stop, including such
    highlights as leading the Clippers to the playoffs and of course winning his
    first title with Detroit in 2004. The Knicks have been somewhat mediocre the
    last few years, but certainly have enough talent that the right coaching and
    motivation could leapfrog them back into the playoff picture. At nearly every
    stop on the Larry Brown tour, he has had to deal with a player who some
    considered too hard to handle. In New York, that player will be Stephon Marbury.
    If Brown can get to him the way he did Allen Iverson in Philadelphia, then watch
    out.

    Philadelphia 76ers
    Q: Can C-Webb and AI coexist?
    A:
    Philly better hope so. The potential combination of the two perennial
    all-stars should be devastating to most of the league when things are clicking,
    but that most certainly didn't happen last season after Philly acquired Webber
    at the trade deadline. Webber is healthier this season, and everyone is saying
    all the right things. New head coach Maurice Cheeks has a reputation for being a
    player's coach, so if he keeps the waters calm, this team can succeed. Also
    watch for the continuing development of Andre Iguodala, who served notice in his
    first year he could be a potential superstar for years to come.

    Toronto Raptors
    Q: Did the Raptors know something everyone else missed at the 2005 NBA Draft?
    A:
    Perhaps no team in the league took more guff for their first-round
    selection than the Raptors did for selecting Charlie Villanueva out of UConn
    with the 7th pick. However, the early returns have the Raptors smiling and the
    rest of the league wiping a little egg off their collective faces. Villanueva
    has looked great in the preseason, leading all rookies in scoring at nearly 17
    points per game. No one has ever doubted Villanueva's talent, and right now he
    is playing like he wants to prove everyone in the league wrong. With budding
    star Chris Bosh already on board, Villanueva could give the Raptors a double
    threat for years to come if he keeps it up.

    -- The Web Guy | 5:30 p.m. 10/31/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Read To Achieve


    Happy Halloween everyone! There is lots to get to in the next couple days
    as we count down (just two more days!) till the season gets underway.

    But first and foremost, this weekend the Hawks participated in one of the team's
    biggest community initiatives, the Read To Achieve program. Joe Johnson,
    Josh Childress
    , and Zaza Pachulia all went to Imagine It! The
    Children's Museum to read stories to children who were in attendance. The event
    was held in conjunction with Arthur's World, the national touring exhibition,
    based on the children's book and PBS television series. Here are a few pics from
    the event:


    Back with more in a little bit!

    -- The Web Guy | 12:15 p.m. 10/31/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Hawks vs. Grizzlies


    The Hawks play their penultimate preseason game tonight against the
    Grizzlies in Chattanooga, TN. Not to drink the corporate kool-aid too much, but
    I think it's great the NBA has its teams play so many games in non-NBA cities.
    The Web Guy grew up in Jackson, MS, and whenever we got a professional team
    rolling through it was always a big event. It's a great way for the league to
    build its fan base, so hopefully the Chattanoogans (Chattanoogies?) will come
    out tonight to see some good ball.

    In other news, Hawks scout Harold Ellis had a very interesting offseason. For
    the second straight year, Ellis participated in the NBA's
    Basketball Without Borders Program
    ,
    going to Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in a clinic for teens from
    throughout the continent. We had a chance to
    talk to
    Ellis
    about his travels, and it sounds like quite an amazing program.

    Let's go Hawks tonight!

    -- The Web Guy | 5:15 p.m. 10/27/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Southeast Division Preview


    Let's begin today in the ole' email bag...

    Each Hawk player should get a copy of the Sporting News NBA preview
    edition. They are predicted to be worse in the NBA, again. I know we are
    rebuilding, but I don't think it is unreasonable to finish ahead of Toronto and
    Charlotte. Maybe a life size copy should be posted in the locker. Go Hawks!!

    -- A. Wurapa

    Well Mr. Wurapa, we agree - we don't think the Hawks are going to be so shabby
    either! But that's just like, our opinion man. This email does provide me with
    the springboard to do a little prognosticating though, so without further ado,
    let's take a look at who the Hawks will be competing against this season in the
    NBA's Southeast Division:

    Charlotte Bobcats
    2004-05 Record: 18-64
    Coach: Bernie Bickerstaff
    The Bobcats begin their second year of existence in the Tar Heel state with,
    well, a couple of Tar Heels. With two lottery picks in last summer's draft, the
    Bobcats took two members of the national champion North Carolina Tar Heels,
    Sean May
    and Raymond Felton. Though the Bobcats played very much like
    the expansion team they were last season, there were certainly bright spots.
    Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor played outstanding basketball, justifying
    his high draft position, and expansion draft-acquisition Primoz Brezec
    showed flashes of potential after finally getting away from the end of Indiana's
    bench.

    How well they do this season will depend largely on how quickly their two
    rookies can adjust to the NBA. May was a dominant low-post force in last year's
    NCAA tournament, but will he have the same success against much larger (and
    much, much quicker) opposition in the pros? And does Felton have the jump shot
    to back up his quickness to keep teams from laying off him and taking away
    penetration? There are some talented pieces here (including super-athlete
    Gerald Wallace), but the Bobcats are probably still a few players away
    from thinking about the postseason.

    Orlando Magic
    2004-05 Record: 36-46
    Coach: Brian Hill
    The Magic were one of the surprise hits of the league through the first part
    of last season, owning a winning record as late March 11 before a late slide saw
    them finish out of the playoffs. Finally healthy, Grant Hill played at
    nearly the same level he was once known for, even starting the All-Star game in
    Denver for the Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard was a revelation as a
    rookie, showing surprising polish around the basket that belied his youth.

    As for this season, they will try to recapture some of the magic (no pun
    intended - at least not until I realized which team I was writing about) from
    the last time Brian Hill helmed this squad (he took them to their lone Finals
    appearance in 1995). The team doesn't lack for talent at the top, as the trio of
    Hill-Howard-Steve Francis
    should be good enough to win some games on their own this season. The
    problem for the team will be if any of them have off nights or get hurt, who
    will step up? The Magic suffered a pretty big blow when lottery pick Fran
    Vasquez spurned them to remain in Europe, and have very little firepower outside
    of the previously mentioned names. Definitely still a dangerous team, but
    probably not a contender either.

    Washington Wizards
    2004-05 Record: 45-37
    Coach: Eddie Jordan
    After many years of being a trendy pick to break out, last season the
    Wizards finally did just that - making the playoffs and reaching the conference
    semis before running into a buzzsaw named Dwyane Wade. Last season saw
    flashbacks to the days of Run TMC in Golden State as Larry Hughes,
    Gilbert Arenas
    , and Antawn Jamison each showed the capability to
    spring for 30 on any given night.

    Hughes is gone now though, so someone will have to step up and take his place as
    an offensive catalyst. It says here that Caron Butler can be that player.
    I always liked his game, and people seem to forget he was nearly the Rookie of
    the Year in Miami. Injuries and stand-around-and-watch-Kobe-itis have put a
    damper on his career since, but if he can regain his form, this team should roll
    right along. I think the question for them will be the same as last season - can
    their defense win games when the offense isn't firing on all cylinders?
    Offensively, this is one of the most fluid and fun to watch units out there, but
    come crunch time you have to be able to get stops. How many of those they get
    will go a long way to determining how deep into the playoffs they go, but they
    should at least get the opportunity.

    Miami Heat
    2004-05 Record: 59-23
    Coach: Stan Van Gundy
    The Heat were one game away from the NBA Finals last season, and it seemed
    like all they would need to do is tweak a little to get right back to the same
    place. Miami clearly felt differently though, revamping their roster almost
    entirely. The new faces read almost like an All-Star team: (former Hawk)
    Antoine Walker
    , (former Hawk - sorta) Gary Payton, Jason Williams,
    and James Posey. There are more too, but we may run out of space on this
    blog.

    The biggest question facing this team then, clearly, will be chemistry. How long
    will it take them to gel? Can they do it in the first place? There is no
    knocking the talent assembled here, it may be the best in the NBA (any team with
    Shaq Diesel and Wade is going to be close to the top of that list even if I was
    rocking the PG spot). But will there be enough basketballs to go around? This
    team looks an awful lot like the Lakers team from two seasons ago that lost in
    the Finals to the more team-like Pistons.

    The number one issue for this team will be keeping the Big Fella happy down low,
    because he has the clout to keep everyone else in line. As he goes, presumably,
    so will go his team. Shaq is another year older though, so they will need to
    keep him healthy as well as happy. Either way, this team will be in the mix when
    it gets down to the end.

    We will look around at the rest of the league later on this week and next as we
    get closer and closer...just one more week!

    -- The Web Guy | 4:00 p.m. 10/26/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Season Opens In Eight Days...


    First let me apologize for the lack of posts the last week or so. It's
    been a rough ride over here dealing with the loss of Jason Collier, to say the
    least. One of the hardest things to do when a tragedy like this strikes is
    figure out how to properly strike a balance between taking time to acknowledge
    that something bad has happened and be respectful of a terrible loss while at
    the same time trying to move forward and prepare for life to go on (in this
    case, the beginning of the season).

    I can only imagine what the players and coaches are going through as people
    who knew Jason well - as someone who only knew him from an arm's length he
    always seemed like an affable, hardworking guy.

    All of which is to say, a lot of the things we would normally have been
    writing and talking about the last week or so just didn't seem appropriate.
    However, in an effort to try to start moving forward, let's talk about some of
    the stuff that has been going on on the court.

    The Hawks have been dealing with some injury issues, so the coaching staff is
    still fiddling with playing time for different players and combinations. Last
    night in Nashville the Birds were without the services of Marvin Williams,
    Joe Johnson, and Tony Delk, but still had a substantial lead in
    the final minutes before Miami rallied,
    winning on a
    buzzer-beater
    by Gary Payton.

    At practice today head coach Mike Woodson appeared to have a good handle on
    the situation, saying these things happen from time to time in the NBA and that
    you can't get too down on it. Actually,
    here is what he said
    entirely
    .

    We also had a chance to
    talk to Donta Smith
    ,
    who shone last night in the absence of some of the regulars, putting up 19
    points (which would be a career high) on 8-9 shooting.

    The Hawks have two preseason games remaining before the regular season begins
    next Wednesday at Golden State, and hopefully Coach Woodson will have the chance
    to start figuring out which combinations of the team work best in different
    situations.

    In the meantime, we will keep trying on the Blog to keep you abreast of all
    that is going on in Hawk-town, but know that we will always have #40 in the back
    of our minds and in our hearts.

    -- The Web Guy | 5:15 p.m. 10/25/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Real Training Camp


    So, you want to know what a real NBA training camp is like? Well, if you're
    an Atlanta Hawk it means a whole lot of hard work as Coach Woodson tries to mold
    one of the youngest, most inexperienced groups in the NBA into a team that can
    compete on a nightly basis. For a glimpse of what that's like check out these
    video previews of
    Real
    Training Camp
    , compliments of NBA TV.



    Hawks Real Training Camp Preview #1



    Hawks Real Training Camp Preview #2

    -- The Web Guy | 3:50 p.m. 10/24/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Trying To Move On...
    Despite the obvious difficulties of having to concentrate on basketball
    after losing a teammate and friend, the Hawks got back out on the court on
    Sunday for practice in preparation for their exhibition game this morning at
    Charlotte. They say doing things in a normal routine and keeping busy can help
    with the grieving process, so perhaps there was something therapeutic about
    playing ball the last couple days.

    Here are some quotes from Coach Woodson and Josh Childress from after
    Sunday's practice:

    Mike Woodson: (Is there any way to describe the range of motions
    you've gone through) "It's been tough on all of us. I'm sure it's a lot tougher
    on Jason's family. It's a big shock. No one would expect this. But we have to
    get through it somehow. As the coach, I have to help these guys get through it.
    I've never experienced anything like this in the 23 years I've been in this
    league. It's a devastating blow for our organization."

    (Are you going to have to watch these guys all season to see how they're
    doing?):
    "That's sort of my job as a coach. You're dealing with 12 or 14 different guys.
    My coaching staff has helped me in that regard. Our organization has been great.
    We'll bring some people in to counsel some of our players, and just stay as
    close as we can as a group. We have to lean on each other to get through this."

    (Will the team do anything specifically to honor Jason?): "I'm not sure what,
    but we'll do something. He was an ultimate pro. I have no gripes with what he
    brought to the table. The guy did everything I asked from a coaching standpoint.
    He was a true pro on the floor and off of it. He will be well-missed."

    (How was practice today?): "I thought practice was upbeat, considering the
    situation and the circumstances. Everybody is down, but I thought for the most
    part our practice was upbeat. Guys did what was asked of them."

    "Jason won't ever be forgotten, because he was part of our family. Speaking to
    the team yesterday, my thing is `we have to stick together.' We still have a job
    to do, in light of what has happened. We have to improve as a team and as
    individual players, and we have to display that on the floor. What better way of
    doing that in light of what has happened to Jason."

    Josh Childress: (How do you go about your business?) "We collectively
    have to fight through (the sadness). Often in life, you have challenges put upon
    you. This is just another challenge. All of us feel very bad about what
    happened, for his family. We wish them the best."

    (Will you guys be watching each other?): "We all know we have to watch each
    others backs (while we are grieving). This tragedy will bring us closer
    together, because it's been so hard on all of us. That's the only way we can get
    through it - for us to be together."

    (How did the news hit you?): "It was just so sudden. I was on my way to
    practice, and got a message from (assistant) coach (David) Fizdale. I didn't
    know how to react. It's something that I've never had to go through, and it's
    tough. But it's a lot harder on his family than it is on us, obviously. He was a
    great guy. He was always laughing. I got a chance to read some of his father's
    comments (in the paper). He said Jason wanted everybody to be happy, and laugh
    and have a good time. That's just the kind of guy he was. Very down to earth,
    hard worker, and he loved what he did."

    -- The Web Guy | 4:00 p.m. 10/17/05 |
    Have a comment?



    Remembering Jason Collier
    If you haven't heard the news yet, tragedy struck as Hawks center Jason
    Collier
    passed away early this morning
    . Here is what Hawks EVP and GM Billy Knight
    had to say:

    "Jason and his family are first and foremost in our prayers during this
    difficult time. Jason was a devoted family man who deeply loved his wife Katie,
    daughter Elezan (Ella), his parents and siblings. He was also a tremendous
    friend to the Hawks employees who spent time with him, and a hard-working and
    dedicated teammate to many NBA players over his five seasons in the league. We
    will truly miss Jason's personality and his spirit, and he will be in the
    thoughts and minds of our team and organization forever."

    We will have more coverage on this very soon, but in the meantime, if you
    want to email your thoughts and condolences to Jason's family and the Hawks
    organization, you can email
    remembering.jason@atlantaspirit.com
    .

    We have
    created a
    page
    where we are posting many of your emails about Jason. Thanks to
    everyone who has written in, you have no idea how much it means to us.

    -- The Web Guy | 9:15 p.m. 10/15/05 |
    Have a comment?




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