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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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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?


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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

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 | Have a comment?

    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?


    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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?
    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 Arthurs World, the national touring exhibition, based on the childrens 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 youve gone through) Its been tough on all of us. Im sure its a lot tougher on Jasons family. Its 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. Ive never experienced anything like this in the 23 years Ive been in this league. Its a devastating blow for our organization.

    (Are you going to have to watch these guys all season to see how theyre doing?):
    Thats sort of my job as a coach. Youre dealing with 12 or 14 different guys. My coaching staff has helped me in that regard. Our organization has been great. Well 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?): Im not sure what, but well 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 wont 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 its been so hard on all of us. Thats 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 didnt know how to react. Its something that Ive never had to go through, and its tough. But its 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 fathers comments (in the paper). He said Jason wanted everybody to be happy, and laugh and have a good time. Thats 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 Jasons 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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