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.


Another Tough Loss

You know what was really tough about Saturday's loss? We didn't blow it. It
wasn't like we turned the ball over a bunch of times down the stretch. It wasn't
like we provided an open path to the basket for a game-winning layup.

No, we lost on Saturday for two reasons: 1) Dwyane Wade is really, really
good. 2) We shot poorly.

There is only so much you can do about either of those things. Personally, I
thought the Hawks played pretty terrific defense for most of the night, on Wade
in particular. He may have scored 37 points, but I can tell you those were
hard-earned tallies. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Cedric Bozeman and company did a
great job containing him as much as possible. But, at the end of the day, there
is a reason this guy is a future Hall-of-Famer and holds an NBA championship
ring. He can score from anywhere, no matter how well anyone is guarding him, and
he proved it again Saturday night.

With the Hawks leading by three in overtime, Wade had the ball at the top of
the key, being defended by JJ. He tried a series of moves, none of which Joe bit
on, and as the clock wound down, he nearly lost the ball. Wade regained it
though, and lacking other options, was forced to pull up for a long
three-pointer. Which he drained. I don't know about you, but I threw up my
hands. We see it a lot with Joe too. Sometimes great players just make plays.

As for the second part - there is no explanation for it either. Some nights
you shoot well, and some nights you don't. The Hawks moved the ball around well
for most of the game and had good, open looks on several occasions.
Unfortunately on this night, the ball just didn't seem to want to go down. I
don't regret many of the team's offensive possessions, I only regret their
outcomes. Which of course makes the loss even more frustrating, because it can't
just be explained away by porous defense or poor clock management.

So, this one is going to stick in the craw a little. The team seems a little
snakebit right now, having lost three straight by a combined total of eight
points. And the injuries ain't helping either, as it appears Josh Childress will
be out a few more days resting his sore foot.

Still, this is a team of professionals, and you can bet Coach Woodson will
not use any excuses to explain the team's current funk. The team plays at
Detroit on Wednesday, and you know Woody wants to do well there.

It was a great atmosphere at Philips on Saturday, and it's a real shame that
everyone went home unhappy. Personally,
I blame it all on
K-Fed
. Here are some
other
pics from the game
as well, by the way.

-- The Web Guy | 11:15 a.m. 11/20/06 |
Have a comment?


I Loved Him With Larry David

The
contest is over, and we have got ourselvse a winner. Shaq-Fu was, of course, in
three movies (starring in, that is - he also had bit parts in others like CB-4
and Scary Movie 4): Blue Chips, Kazaam, and Steel.

While none were juggernauts at the box office (shocking, I know), the highest
grossing of the three was Blue Chips, which raked in just over
$22 million
in early 1994.

If you ask me, Shaq gets a lot of grief for his feature films, but I thought
he was on one of the best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm ever, when Larry
David accidentally trips him and puts him in the hospital, so he gets him every
episode of Seinfeld on DVD. It's a great one - check it out sometime if you get
the chance.

Today's winner is Shaun F. Check back throughout the season as we give
away two tickets to every home game here on the blog!

In other news, the Hawks are taking on the Heat tomorrow night in front of
what should be a packed house.

It's been a couple of tough losses in a row for our boys, but they've had a
few days of practice to stew on it. In our

inaugural podcast yesterday with Tyronn Lue
, he talked about how the
team seemed really down after the loss, which was a good thing. They are really
taking the losses to heart and not just blowing them off, which is a positive
sign for such a young squad.

Later on today we will have an interview with Hawks assistant coach Bob
Bender, who talks about the keys to an Atlanta win tomorrow night.

So, for those who entered but didn't win tickets, it's not too late to get
some (though it's close). Come out to support our boys as they try to down the
defending champs!

-- The Web Guy | 2:35 p.m. 11/17/06 |
Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Heat!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his
co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to
have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the
morning of every home game
- usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are
free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will
look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random
as the winner. (Click
here
for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two
free tickets to that night's home game!
Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog
every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's
game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays - so
today's question is for Saturday's game vs Miami)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 11/18 Game:

The Hawks face noted thespian
Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat on Saturday. Shaq has taken star
turns in three movies. Name them, and name which movie grossed the
highest amount of money.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at
2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/17/06 |
Have a comment?


Rebounding From A Couple Tough
Losses

Last night hurt some, I won't lie. I love roller-coasters as much as the next
guy, but there were so many ups and downs last night, to see us come up on the
losing end was painful.

There are certainly positives to take away from last night's game. Tyronn Lue
had arguably his best game as a Hawk, and Josh Childress may have as well,
including the dunk (pictured right) of the night that was the #1 play on
SportsCenter. But, as Coach
Woodson said in his
post-game
press conference
, the team lost the game as much in the first quarter as
in the end.

Joe Johnson was spectacular again, hitting basket after basket down the
stretch to give the Hawks a chance to win it, and quite honestly, there really
isn't a good reason why they didn't. There was no crucial turnover late. They
didn't miss a wide-open layup. They lost because Michael Redd is one of the best
basketball players on the planet, and he ended up in the right situation to make
a play more than Joe did.

With Miami coming to town on Saturday, the Hawks have three full days of
practice to work on what went wrong against the Bucks, and try to get over
losing two heartbreakers by a grand total of three points over the last few
days.

In other news,

voting for the NBA All-Star game has begun
. It's been a few years since
we've seen someone represent the ATL at the NBA's premier mid-season event, and
it's about time to change that, don't you think?

You can vote once a day, so get out there and rock the vote. We have three
candidates on the ballot - JJ, Zaza, and Speedy Claxton - but you can of course
feel free to write in other worthy candidates.

Vegas is a fantastic place - let's send some of our boys there for the
weekend!

-- The Web Guy | 4:45 p.m. 11/15/06 |
Have a comment?


Reef To The Rescue

We
have a winner for today's blog trivia question, Andrew P.!

The question was who was the last Hawk to reach the 50-point plateau in a
game, and the answer is...Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Reef popped off for a career-high 50 on November 23, 2001, against the
Detroit Pistons. Abdur-Rahim scored a half century by draining 21 field goals in
the game and 8 FTs. All-time, Hall-of-Fame VP of Basketball Dominique Wilkins
had seven 50+ performances in a Hawks uniform, including bests of 57 twice.


Looking at today's matchup, check out what Hawks assistant coach Larry Drew
had to say about the
keys to victory tonight
.

Obviously, containing Michael Redd will be crucial to the Hawks plans. And
after seeing what opposing shooting guards can do in this league (witness Ray
Allen's performance on Saturday), the Atlanta players know how important it is
not to let Redd get hot early.

We've had a little technical difficulties the last day or so, so apologies
for not getting to this earlier, but how about a little Blog love for Joe
Johnson, who was
named
Eastern Conference Player of the Week
yesterday (Yao Ming took home
honors in the West).

JJ is off to an MVP-like start, and is getting some national pub as a result.
It's great to see him getting his due, because as we all know, the dude can
flat-out ball. His match-up with Redd should be very interesting tonight, to say
the least.

With Miami coming to Philips on Saturday, the Hawks know how important a win
is tonight to both the team's confidence and place in the standings. So expect
to see them come out strong down at the Highlight Factory tonight!

-- The Web Guy | 3:00 p.m. 11/14/06 |
Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Bucks!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his
co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to
have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the
morning of every home game
- usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are
free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will
look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random
as the winner. (Click
here
for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two
free tickets to that night's home game!
Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog
every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's
game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 11/14 Game:

Michael Redd scored an NBA
season-high
57 points in Saturday's loss to Utah.

When is the last time a Hawks player
scored 50+ points in a game?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at
2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/14/06 |
Have a comment?



And the Winner Is... Mike M.

Joe Johnson (13.9 ppg), Josh Childress (11.5), Speedy Claxton (10.9), and
Marvin Williams (10.5) each have averaged double-digits in their career against
the Sonics. Tyronn Lue is just shy of the mark, averaging 9.8 per game.



Today's winner is Mike M., who won two tickets to tomorrow's game against
the Seattle Sonics that will feature a special post-game concert by T.I. and the
Grand Hustle Family.
Remember to check back the day of every home game around 10:00 a.m. for future
trivia quizes!

Tonight the team takes the court against the Raptors north of
the border. Toronto is off to a solid start (2-2) that includes a 106-104
victory over Philadelphia Wednesday night. Last season the Hawks split a
pair of games at the Air Canada Centre, dropping a 108-102 contest in December
and posting a 113-111 overtime win later in the season. Atlanta will try
to keep the Raptors from breaking the century mark tonight, as they enter the
contest leading the NBA by limiting opponents to just 89.2 points a game.

The team will be back in Philips Arena tomorrow night for the game against
the Sonics. It should be another packed house in the Highlight Factory!

-- The Web Guy | 3:05 p.m. 11/10/06 |
Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Sonics!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his
co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to
have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the
morning of every home game
- usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are
free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will
look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random
as the winner. (Click
here
for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two
free tickets to that night's home game!
Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog
every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's
game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays - so today's
question is for Saturday's game against the Sonics!)

Alright, onto today's question - it's a good one!

Trivia Question For 11/11 Game:


Four players on the current Hawks roster have
double-figure career scoring averages against the Sonics
.
Name them.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at
2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/10/06 |
Have a comment?


A
Little Love For The Hawks

It was pointed out to me today by someone within the organization that I
often use the blog as a means to bash those who would mean to do us harm. Well,
in the interest of patting the collective backs of those who (at least right
now) appear to wish us well, let's take a look at some of the pub the Hawks are
getting around the nation.

Jack McCallum of SI.com lists his under-the-radar players who could have an
impact on the season, and

none other than Zaza Pachulia is on his list
.

ESPN's The Sports Guy, in a manner of speaking,
gives
some praise to Matt Freije
, who celebrated Tuesday's win at Cleveland
with exuberance.

Also, in today's AJC, former Hawks guard and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith
lists

5 Reasons why the Hawks may be for real
.

Oh, and in the
NBA.com power rankings
, we are checking in at a robust #8.

I can promise you this. The more the Hawks win, the more stories like these
we will see.

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 11/09/06 |
Have a comment?


Why Don't We Do It On The
Road...



It's early, it's early, I know it's early.

As the season progresses, there will be ups and downs, twists and turns,
achievements and disappointments. It's a marathon, not a sprint. We all know
this.

So why does last night's victory at Cleveland just feel so...good?

Maybe it's because Cleveland is a trendy pick to win it all (or at least
represent the East in the finals), or maybe because any time we beat LeBron
James (my GOD is that guy good) feels like a time to celebrate. All I know is,
the Hawks went on the road, trailed by double figures in the fourth quarter, and
still came out with a W.

If I had to assign anyone with hero status for the night, I'm going to go
with PG
Tyronn
Lue
. Lue had perhaps his best game as a member of the ATL franchise last
night, hitting several clutch shots, none the least of which was a

coast-to-coast teardrop buzzer-beater that sent the game into overtime. Lue
kept the pressure up in the OT, hitting a huge 3-pointer to give the Hawks a
lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Those were all nice plays, but my favorite play of the night from Lue was in
the first half, when he dove head-first for a loose ball, reached it, and sprung
to the floor in time to drive the lane for a lay-up. It's not on the main
highlight reel on NBA.com, but trust me, it was the kind of hustle play that
wins ballgames.

Last night was by no means a perfect performance by the team, which in a way,
almost makes the win even more satisfying. It's not like the Hawks came into
Cleveland and shot 65% from the field (though they were a crisp 9-12 from long
distance). By many accounts, they played pretty sloppily, especially in the
first half, when they turned the ball over 14 times. Still, their defense kept
them in it, as they trailed by only a point at the half - and should have been
winning, thanks to a play I don't know if I've ever seen before.

With a jump ball called with 0.4 seconds left at the Hawks free-throw line,
Joe Johnson went up for a jump ball against David Wesley, and instead of tipping
it back to a teammate, he flicked it towards the basket - and it dropped! The
refs waived it off,s aying he had caught it and shot it, but the replay showed
it was a clean play. Whatever. It was cool, no matter the result. Man, Joe
Johnson is good.

In the second half the Hawks were much better protecting the rock, and the
defense got stops when they needed them, giving Atlanta a chance to win when all
seemed lost.

One thing Coach Woodson has been trying to impart to his troops since he got
here is, if you play good defense, you will be in a position to win games that
maybe you don't deserve to. I'm not saying we didn't deserve to win last night,
but it was certainly a game we wouldn't expect to win on an opposing court. The
Hawks D held Orlando to 36.3% shooting, and perhaps most importantly, made
Cleveland give the ball to players not named LeBron in late situations where
they needed baskets.

Let the record show the Hawks are 3-1, a game up on Orlando and Miami in the
Southeast Division.

It's early, it's early, I know it's early.

-- The Web Guy | 11:30 a.m. 11/08/06 |
Have a comment?


What A Weekend At Philips

Well, that wasn't a bad couple of days now was it? Despite predictions of
doom and gloom after Wednesday's season-opening loss to Philly (who, by the way,
is atop the Eastern Conference at 3-0), the Hawks came home and took care of
business both Friday night against the Knicks and yesterday afternoon against
division-rival Orlando.

I'm not going to go crazy here, it was only two games. There are still 79
left. But, having said that, there were definitely some positives for all Hawks
fans to be happy about. They are, in no particular order:

- Joe Johnson. Well, maybe the rest aren't in a particular order, but
it's hard not to think of him as the most impressive thing we've seen so far. We
all know the key cogs for the team will have to step up their offensive
production with Marvin Williams out, and JJ has done that especially well so
far, averaging 27.5 in three games (with 30+ performances in each of the wins).

There is a school of thought that many of the players on Team USA this summer
might suffer from not having as much time off as their compatriates, but I
actually think the national team experience will only serve to give Johnson more
confidence in his game. He took over down the stretch against the Knicks, and
controlled play for Atlanta in the late stages on Sunday as well. Joe is already
as cool as they come, and that calming influence is very reassuring for such a
young team.

- Zaza Pachulia. Big Z was an absolute monster Friday against New
York, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter on his way to 22 points. Sunday he
faced a tough match-up against Dwight Howard, but still managed to rack up 17
points. He has been the Hawks main presence in the middle, allowing the team a
balanced offensive attack.

- Josh Childress. Notoriously a slow-starter in his first two seasons,
Chills has taken it upon himself to make sure he doesn't repeat that in Marvin's
absence. Childress had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) in the opener,
and contributed across the board in both wins. Childress is the kind of player
every successful team needs - a guy whose contributions may or may not show up
in the box score, but always gives great energy when he is in the game and
rarely makes a bad play.

- Team defense. Though teams are want to be somewhat sloppy in the
early parts of the season as new teammates get adjusted to playing together and
in general shake off the rust from the off-season, the Hawks have done a good
job holding their opponents down through three games, giving up an average of
87.3 ppg. While Atlanta has only cracked the 100-point mark once, if they can
keep their opponents down in the lower-90s for the bulk of the season they are
bound to get some wins, as well as make Coach Woodson very happy.

- Fourth quarter presence. Last season, the Hawks routinely led teams
in the fourth quarter, only to see those leads slip away in the last few
minutes. It was frustrating for the players as well as the fans. In the two
victories so far, Atlanta has done a very good job maintaining their focus and
composure, ensuring that neither victory came down to free throws or last-second
defensive stand. I don't know about you, but it's something I can definitely get
used to.

So here we sit, three games into the season, and we are 2-1 for the first
time since 2002-03, and we are in first place in the Southeast Division. I like
it. I'm not going hogwild here - it's only a few games. But these were
important
games, and no one knows how important a good start is more
than these Hawks.

Here are some photo galleries we put together from this weekend's games. We
will be posting galleries of every home game from here on out, so we hope you
enjoy!

-
Hawks vs. Knicks

-
Hawks vs. Magic

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 11/06/06 |
Have a comment?


And
We Have A Winner...

Or two! The answer to today's question was...two. Two players on the Hawks
roster are from New York City, and they (not surprisingly) are both point
guards. The Big Apple is known for producing lead guards, and both Speedy
Claxton
and Royal Ivey spent their formative years on the playgrounds
of NYC.



Today's winners are Kyle B., who won two tickets to tonight's home opener
against the Knickerbockers, and Steve H., who took the prize for Sunday.
Remember to check back the day of every home game around 10:00 a.m. for future
trivia quizes!

As far as tonight's game goes, it's no secret this is an
important game for the team. The Hawks came out admittedly flat on Wednesday at
Philly, but it's hard to win on the opposing court for openers. A win tonight
will erase Wednesday, and the Knicks are a team Atlanta has handled in the past.

For more in depth analysis of tonight's game, listen to
our interview with
Hawks assistant coach David Fizdale
. From here on out, whenever
possible, we will be discussing the night's home game with one of the Hawks
assistants, ideally to give you the fan a chance to find out what match-ups are
important for that night and what the team's game-plan is for victory.

Also, we spoke today after shootaround with Hawks rookie G Cedric Bozeman
about playing in
his first home opener
.

It should be a raucous atmosphere at Philips tonight, so come on out if you
can and let's get a victory!

-- The Web Guy | 3:35 p.m. 11/03/06 |
Have a comment?


Win Free Tickets On Hawks.com!

Here is something new we are going to kick off today, and continue throughout
the season. The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his
co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to
have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the
morning of every home game
- usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are
free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will
look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random
as the winner.

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two
free tickets to that night's home game!
Hooray!

It's that simple! So, starting today, remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog
every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's
game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays - so today
there will be two winners!)

So, let's get this party started with our inaugural question!

Trivia Question For 11/03 Game:


The Hawks play the Knicks tonight in the home opener. How many Hawks players
grew up in New York city? Name them.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at
3:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 12:00 p.m. 11/03/06 |
Have a comment?


Season Tips Off Tonight

Let's do it up. I am so pumped for the start of the season, and watching last
night's Lakers-Suns game only sparked the fire more. I have to say it - I have
such a man crush on watching Phoenix in action. I just love offensive
basketball, what can I say?

First of all, some things you should check out before I get into the meat of
this post:

Here are a couple preview-y tidbits on the Hawks, if you haven't seen them:



5 Keys For The Season

61 Things To Watch For
Hawks.com
Interview With Mike Woodson

Also, we've

launched a new podcast page
, as we plan on adding a lot of audio content
to the site this year. Hawks play-by-play man Bob Rathbun will be doing a
semi-daily podcast, so check back for that pretty often. Also, I will be
lauching the Web Guy's Weekly Rewind on Mondays, which I promise is going to be
a lot of fun.

So tonight we tip off

in Philly
against Iverson and the Sixers
, definitely a winnable game. In fact, the
start to this season is as favorable as it's been in years. The last two seasons
saw the Hawks out on the West Coast for three games before finally getting a
home appearance.

With only one road game before two home dates, the Hawks have a
chance to avoid the kinds of starts that have ruined their seasons in the past.

Tonight's game is crucial though. With two winnable games at home on Friday
and Sunday, the Hawks could conceivably be 3-0 after the weekend before they
face a returning playoff team at Cleveland next Tuesday.

As for how we are going to do this year? Well, here are my two cents (deep
breath).

Last season the Hawks finished 26-56, but as I've said before, they were a
lot closer to a competitive outfit than it appears at first glance. The start of
the season just destroyed us. For a young team, confidence is everything. First
they had to deal with the death of teammate Jason Collier midway through the
preseason, then they suffered a number of backbreaking losses that could have
very easily gone the other way. The last-second foul at Portland. The tip-in at
Memphis. Darius Miles' buzzer-beater. Charlie Villanueva's jumper for Toronto.

A lot of winnable games were lost, and with it, the Hawks confidence took a
beating. However, those were learning experiences. The team is a year older now
and ostensibly a year wiser. Plus, with Speedy Claxton at the helm, they now
have a point guard who can settle things down in late game situations.

There is talent on this team. Joe Johnson is one of the best players in the
league, though no one knows it because he keeps a low profile. Josh Smith is an
up-and-comer, as is Marvin Williams (though the loss of him for up to two months
will certainly be a blow). Josh Childress is the exact kind of player every team
needs to be successful - able to pitch in in a variety of ways that don't always
translate in the boxscore.

There are no albatrosses hanging around the head of this team - no
malcontents, no overpaid underperformers. Everyone on this team is hungry and
eager to prove their doubters wrong.

Can they make the playoffs? Time will tell. But I will say this: the Eastern
Conference is wide-open. There isn't a single dominant team in the mix - every
team is flawed in some way (though Chicago looked pretty good Tuesday
night). Confidence is everything with a young team, and if the Hawks can get off
to a decent start, well, I think a lot is possible.

Tonight is only one game of 82 to come. But a W tonight could portend a bunch
on the way.

I'm ready to get it started!

--- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 11/01/06 |
Have a comment?


Charlotte Bobcats
Coach: Bernie Bickerstaff
2005-06 Record: 26-56 Regular Season, missed playoffs

It's
year three in Charlotte, and the jury is still out exactly where the Bobcats
stand in their fight to rise from expansion to respectability. Mostly, they can
blame this on injuries, which claimed two of their most recent first-round
picks, Emeka Okafor and Sean May. The team's biggest star though, arguably, is
Gerald Wallace, who a year ago became just the third player in league history to
average 2+ blocks and steals a game since the league began tracking those
statistics. That ain't bad (the other two are Hakeem Olajuwon and David
Robinson).

There is a lot of talent in Charlotte this year, and mustachioed-rookie Adam
Morrison has the league abuzz with some impressive showings in the preseason. If
they can stay healthy, there is an exciting young nucleus there, including
returning second-year pg Raymond Felton.

But, like a year ago, it will all be for naught if their big men can't stay
healthy.

-- The Web Guy | 4:25 p.m. 10/31/06 |
Have a comment?


Orlando Magic
Coach: Brian Hill
2005-06 Record: 36-46 Regular Season, missed playoffs

If
you look strictly at the final record, you might think Orlando had a bad season
a year ago. However, a few transactions in the middle of the season turned
things around, and after going 20-40 through the first 60 games, the Magic
finished on a 16-6 run that makes them a contender for a postseason birth this
season in my mind.

The emergence of Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and even Darko Milicic gives
this team a youthful bunch of talented players that should keep the team
competitive for years to come. Plus, they added the one thing they truly needed
a year ago, a sharpshooting guard in the person of Duke alum JJ Redick. You may
not like Redick, but he has come to a perfect situation in Orlando.

Look for the Magic to be a great rival for the Hawks as they battle for
positioning within the division and the conference.

-- The Web Guy | 3:45 p.m. 10/31/06 |
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Washington Wizards
Coach: Eddie Jordan
2005-06 Record: 42-40 Regular Season, Lost in First Round to Cleveland
Cavaliers

Washington
is one of those teams right now...right on the cusp of potential greatness, yet
seemingly still a piece or two shy of where they need to be to compete to win a
title. Last year's 42-40 record was somewhat of a disappointment, especially
coming off an appearance in the conference semifinals the season before.

Gilbert Arenas is back at the helm, and presumably as he goes so will the
Wizards. I expect Caron Butler to show the form he showed in the playoffs for a
full season, which should make them all the more dangerous.

This team came within a basket of beating the Cavaliers in last year's first
round, but will have to learn to defend better if they want to improve on the
past couple seasons.

Either way, they should be one of the more entertaining offensive teams to
watch over the course of the season.

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 10/31/06 |
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Miami Heat
Coach: Pat Riley
2005-06 Record: 52-30 Regular Season, NBA Champions

The
Heat proved me wrong last season - sort of. I was a hater of theirs a year ago.
After barely losing to Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals in '05, I
thought they were crazy to shake the team up as much as they did.

Going into the playoffs, I still felt they were too disjointed to make much
of a strong run. However, as much as basketball is a team game, it is also a
game that can be dominated by superstars. Dwyane Wade is one of those for sure,
and he carried them (with some help from another superstar you may have heard of
surnamed O'Neal) to the franchise's first NBA title.

Can they repeat? Anything is possible when D-Wade is involved. However, not
to take another sip from the hate-orade (we need a new term there, that
expression is entirely played out), but this team was old last year, and is now
even older. Aside from Wade, the only player in the rotation on the upside of
their career is Udonis Haslem (who I actually think is a very underrated part of
their success).

People criticized Pat Riley for throwing Stan Van Gundy under the bus last
season and taking over, but it's hard to argue with the results. Still, if
anything bad happens to Wade, this team could fall apart in a hurry.

-- The Web Guy | 4:45 p.m. 10/30/06 |
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Opening Week Is Here

It's weird - it feels like it's been forever since the Hawks played a regular
season game, yet at the same time I can't believe it's already time to get
things started.

The dress rehearsals are over, and the 2006-07 season tips off this week with
two games tomorrow night on Halloween: the Bulls at the Heat and the Suns at the
Lakers.

I for one am very excited. Last year's playoffs were the most thrilling I can
recall for a very long time, and with many teams trying to restore the
fast-paced, offensive basketball that brought the league to prominence in the
80s, this promises to be just an outstanding, outstanding year for the NBA.

I will be previewing the upcoming season all week long, so check back for lots
more to come!

-- The Web Guy | 2:20 p.m. 10/30/06 |
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The Fan Correspondent
Contest Is Back!

Writing the Hawks BasketBlog is fun. It's really one of the best parts of our
job around here. But, we're not selfish. I can share with the best of them.
Which is why we are proud to announce the return of the

Fan Correspondent Contest
, where you can earn a chance to voice your
thoughts and opinions on this here blog for the 2006-07 season!

All
you have to do is tell us, in 200 words or less, exactly why we
should pick you to be the voice of the fan. Be creative, show us what is in
store for us over the next few months!

The contest starts today, and runs until November 10th. Once all the entries
are in, we will choose six finalists who will win two tickets to a Hawks game
and a chance at the grand prize: an autographed basketball and jersey, and a
spot in the BasketBlog rotation!

What are you waiting for?

Enter now
!

-- The Web Guy | 3:30 p.m. 10/27/06 |
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Marvin Is Hurt, But Let's Not Panic

By now, you may have heard the news - Hawks F Marvin Williams
broke his hand
in practice this morning
and is out a reported 6-8 weeks. It's the same
injury Speedy Claxton suffered earlier in training camp, who we should note is
back earlier than the team originally thought, if that gives a bit of a silver
lining.

Ok, first I'm going to get my frustrations out. Man, are we cursed or what? I
really believe we are right on the cusp of doing some good things around here,
but as with any young team, confidence is crucial. Last year's squad was better
than their record, but they got off to a tough start and could never get back
over the hump.

This team has a lot going for it. The players like each other, they get
along, and they are genuine in their desire to prove their doubters wrong this
year. But a setback like this, to a key member of the rotation, is going to be
tough.

If there is some solace, it is that most of the key players were here last
year for the beginning of the season, and they know how crucial it is to get the
season started on the right foot.

Also, the lack of a true PG hurt the team a lot in late-game situations early
last season. With Speedy Claxton in the fold (and another year of late-game
experience), the Hawks should fare better in that department even without
Marvin.

The fact is, basketball is a team game, and injuries are part of the game.
The team has to fight the feelings of self-pity that are certainly
understandable at this juncture, and know that one player doesn't make a team.

As for Marvin, there is still plenty of time for him to have the breakout
season we are all predicting for him. It will just take a little longer to get
started, that's all.

The Hawks will survive this. And, if they can overcome the most recent spate
of adversity and start the campaign on a high note, they will just become
all-that-much better when Marvin returns.

-- The Web Guy | 3:30 p.m. 10/26/06 |
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Watch Us Play, That's All We
Ask

Well a
new season is nearly upon us, which means, once again, it's time to take on the
haters out there who think we are going to be terrible this season.

Here is
my problem with them. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I have many
opinions of my own, and sometimes people agree with me, and sometimes they
don't.

What
bothers me the most with many opinions about the Hawks is that they are made
without having seen us play
. I have
gotten into it with SI columnists in the past, and I am about to do it again.

In last
week's NBA preview issue of Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard takes a dig at us
in an article about the league's current holy trinity of LeBron James, Carmelo
Anthony, and Dwyane Wade:


...hopefully you'll be excited
and giddy talking about Wade and James and Anthony. Really, just check them out.
We're not promising that every game is worth watching -- or any Hawks game, for
that matter...

Now was
that called for? See, Ballard is welcome to his opinion, and he may think we are
still a few pieces shy of a complete puzzle. I may disagree with that notion,
but hey, it's a free country.

What
drives me crazy, though, is the
notion that we aren't worth watching. As I think anyone can tell you who watched
the Hawks last season, we were nothing if not entertaining.

I was
here for the 13-69 season two years ago. That was a team you probably could have
missed watching. Just being honest. They were a team put together at the start
of a rebuilding, and though they played very, very hard every single night (a
credit to Coach Woodson and his staff), they just didn't have the horses to
compete on a nightly basis.

Last
year's squad, 26-56 though they may have gone, was incredibly fun (though at
times maddening) to watch. They played hard, played teams tough, and if the
season had started just a little differently, might have even competed for a
playoff spot. They were one of the most athletic teams in the league, they could get out and
run, and they were in nearly every game until the end. Oh, and they also beat
several of the top teams in the league, including the Heat, Pistons, Spurs, and the Pacers
(a team they swept in the season series).

This year
promises much of the same, only with hopefully better results. We still have
most of the horses from last season, and with the bulk of the nucleus having
played another full season together, they should click together even moreso than
in the past.

It may seem somewhat unfair for me to say that Ballard hasn't seen us play. I
know he hasn't been here as a member of the press anytime recently, but it's
possible he has watched us on TV. By implying that he hasn't watched us, I am
guilty of the same unfounded criticism of him that he tossed at us.

Except the difference is, I don't see how anyone who watched this team play
last year and knows the roster for the coming year could think we aren't worth
watching. So I am forced to conclude he simply hasn't paid us any attention.

I would like to change that. Chris
Ballard, this is your invitation to the Hawks game of your choice. I will
happily provide you with tickets. After that, let us know what you really think - good
or bad, you are entitled to your opinion.

Just watch
us before you make your decision.

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 10/26/06 |
Have a comment?


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