So, with apologies to Braves and Birds, here's 10 thoughts and/or observations on the Hawks and their recent four game winning streak.
1. It was really nice to be on the other end of that Pacers game last night. In previous years, it was the Hawks that jumped out to a nice first quarter lead, held serve in the second quarter, gave up the lead in the third, and got blown out in the fourth. The Pacers last night reminded me of so many Hawks teams over the last few years. More importantly, it was nice to see the Hawks systematically dismantle a poor team (albeit minus its best player). That's the sign of a good team.
2. Roy Hibbert is second only to Yao Ming in the "man that guy is a physical fucking freak" in the list of players I've seen up close. He played really well last night and has a good enough post-up game and rebounding prowess that it's kinda surprising he's not much better.
3. I'm not a doctor, and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I'm not optimistic about Marvin's injury. I'm glad he might make it back, but he will probably need surgery in the offseason, and he's still probably not going to be at full strength when he does return. On the brightside, this increases the Hawks ability to lowball him ala J-Smoove during his restricted free agency this summer.
4. Mo Evans had a nice game last night (+19), but he's not going to be able to replicate Marvin's scoring or rebounding output. However, if he continues shooting the 3ball like he has, maybe we won't miss that aspect of Marvin's game as much as I thought.
5. Chris Paul, while still a douche, is amazing to watch in person. The Hawks were mostly effective at limiting his ability to split the defense and penetrate the lane, but the few times he did, it was like watching a 6'', 185lb LeBron out there. Dude just opens up passing lanes out of nowhere also. He basically owned Mike Bibby defensively as well. Along with LeBron, Duncan, DWade, the Celtics, and Kobe, he might make my list of "I am going to that fucking game" when he comes to town.
6. This is completely irrelevant whether we are winning or losing, but does Josh Smith seem to be a) dunking less and b) dunking with less authority over the last few weeks? I didn't think about it until I attended these games this week and had to rely on Flip Murray for some of my my "UNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" shouts following a powerful jam. That said, there's few things more exciting then seeing the Hawks on a fast break and realizing Smith his a clear path and a good passer about to feed him the ball. Bonus points if it is a game-clincher like during the New Orleans game. If that had been in NBA Jam, it would have elicited a "THE NAAAIL IN THE COFFIN" shout from the announcer.
7. As for Smith's benching in Charlotte, this kind of crap is getting annoying. I'm not sure what the suspension was about, but if it was about effort/getting back on defense, I'm not sure I've seen a marked improvement over the last few games in that area. So, uh, way to go Woody. As my buddy Logan pointed out, Smith is just a baby. He's not a "punk" or a "thug" (I hate when those terms get used about him- looking at you sports talk fools), he's just a baby that happens to play basketball. If he was a banker or some other type of boring-job co-worker, he'd be that guy who always annoyed his boss, always took shortcuts on their work, complained about their workload, never went above-or-beyond on any project, etc. He's been in the league for 5 seasons, so we're running out of time on the "he's just young and immature!" excuse.
8. Joe Johnson appears to have given curbjaw to his slump. Let's hope this continues, because there is no way we can beat the Heat in a Round 1 matchup with Joe not at the top of his game.
9. Coach Woodson apparently reads Hawks blogs, finally giving Acie Law some run! He's still raw, but there's definite potential there, espicially on the offensive end. That said, not sure I see him as starter-material next season, but it does give Rick Sund a little bit of wiggle room with regards to Mike Bibby's impending free agency. On another note, Coach Woodson definitely doesn't read Hawks blogs, because for some reason he deemed it appropriate to reward Mario West's first good game EVER against the Jazz by inexplicably allowing him to be the team's 6th man last night. What. the. hell.
10. Finally, a mini-RIP to the career of Allen Iverson as a star-quality figure on a contending team. As one of my favorite players ever, this pains me to type, but the Pistons are a much better team when he is not on the court. It allows their best player, Rip Hamilton, to do what he does best: run those annoying screen-curl-shoot sequences. The other Pistons sense this as well.
What does that have to do with the Hawks? Well, nothing. But let's just say my dream Round 1 matchup for the Hawks involves the Pistons. And Allen Iverson. And not Dwayne Wade.
“Some games we do feel like the old Pistons,” McDyess said. “We’ve got each other’s backs, playing free and having fun. For a while it’s been that way, since we’ve had Rip in the lineup.”
“We’ve got to keep it the way it is,” McDyess said. “We’ve only lost (two) games with him in the lineup. He’s been sharing the ball like a point guard, which is not his strength, and really scoring, also. With the energy he brings, it’s like we have more confidence in ourselves now.”