After a long, long hiatus from the blogosphere, I’m back on the world wide web to talk Hawks basketball. The reason for my near three week long recluse was two fold: (1). I was busy at work and could not find as much time to write; and (2). I needed to step back and examine this Hawks team from a more objective basis. You see, I have been harsh on the Hawks, mainly because I want them to succeed so bad. But my passion for the team sometimes overrides any possibility of an objective perception. For those who read Sekou’s blog on the AJC, they’ll find much of the same problem. When the team hits a rut, it seems as though the sky is falling and an inescapable hurricane is imminent.
Well folks, it isn’t. In fact these bipolar Hawks are in the four spot right now in the East, with a solid three game lead. Their only true threat is Philadelphia, who has experienced a classic case of “addition by subtraction” as seen from their improved record after the injury to Elton Brand. Brand slowed what was (and now is) an athletic team down. The Sixers are scary, although I do believe that the Hawks are a better, more well rounded team. As for the division rival Heat, Jermaine O’Neal may be a “sexy” name but he’s injury prone and isn’t nearly the same type of player he used to be. I think this deal doesn’t really help or hurt the Heat and I would be surprised if they eventually take over the 4 spot.
With the trade deadline looming, its unclear if these Hawks are going to make a move to bolster their position. A move to increase their depth on the bench would make sense. The Hawks are undersized and when Horford and/or Pachulia get into foul trouble (see any game vs. Dwight Howard), the lack of size becomes crystal clear. I haven’t heard a ton of big men rumored, but we all know Chris Wilcox, Brad Miller, and David Lee are names that are out there. Personally, I could do without Miller, who at this point in his career is a big man masquerading as a shooting guard. But Wilcox and Lee, although undersized power forwards, are tenacious rebounders who could provide some great energy off the bench.
What has impressed me most over the last three weeks has been how these Hawks have weathered the injury bug. Horford, Williams, Bibby and Johnson have all managed to miss time yet they have still been able to persevere. The Hawks found a way to win two huge games without their All-Star and leading scorer. It almost seemed at times as though they missed their floor general – Mike Bibby – more than JJ (although I think we can put this theory to rest). The Hawks in recent years past have simply folded upon a little resistance. While the Hawks of 2008 have gotten blasted on occasion (see that horrific performance to an atrocious Clippers team), they have managed to stay upright and come back from poor performances to win games. In an 82 game season, the ability to come back from defeat is essential to surviving.
FERNANDEZ GETS SCREWED: I wasn’t really sure about Rudy Fernandez’s entrance into the Slam Dunk Contest, but upon seeing what he pulled off, I thought he deserved a little better. Fernandez’s first dunk was mediocre at best; however, his second dunk may have been one of the top three of the night. For those who missed it, Fernandez had Pau Gasol throw the ball off the back of the backboard. Fernandez then came in from behind one side of the rim, launched himself to catch the ball and dunked the ball as his body was moving to the other side of the rim. It scored a 43, but it deserved a 48 or better.