Monday, November 05, 2007
101 Points and Runnin'
This is the time when a 5'10 white guy who grew up in North Macon and graduated in a class with exactly one African-American posts an NWA video to show that he's down.
We're two games into the NBA season and I could not be any happier with the Hawks right now. They did lose a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter in Detroit last night, but this team has obviously come a long way when they can beat Dallas in the opener and then trade punches with the Pistons for 48 minutes. What in particular is better about the Hawks? I'm glad you asked:
1. Marvin Williams - He's scored 38 points on 22 shots in two games, he's getting to the foul line, and he isn't turning the ball over, despite the fact that he has it in his hands a lot. Also, what you don't notice in the box score is that he's playing much better defense this year. He guarded Dirk Nowitzki for a large portion of the opener and Dirk didn't explode for 80 points like he would have if guarded by the rookie Marvin. The consensus before the year was that the Hawks needed a break-out year from Marvin and two games in, the signs are looking good.
2. Acie Law - I know I killed the Law selection when the Hawks made it this summer, but he's not looking like Randolph Childress IV so far. He's got 19 points on ten shots so far this year. He's also a defensive upgrade over Tyronne Lue. The Hawks had little hope of stopping Chauncey Billups last night when Lue was in the game, which makes me wonder how long Lue is going to continue to get the crunch time minutes. In Lue's defense, he did have a couple big baskets in the fourth quarter against Dallas, but he also got lit up by something called Jose Barea in that game (14 points in nine minutes). (I'm pretty sure that Lue was in the game when Barea went off, but I could be wrong.) The best news about Law's emergence is that it has pushed Anthony Johnson off the map. Johnson started against Dallas and was awful. At one point, the game was Hawks 10 Devin Harris 10.
3. Al Horford - The Hawks have outrebounded their opponents in the first two games and Horford is a large reason why. Even though he only scored three points last night, it was great to see the Hawks start the game by throwing the ball into Horford in the post and Horford promptly scored over Antonio McDyess. The Hawks haven't had a true back-to-the-basket scorer since (WhoWillSex)Mutombo. Horford also scored the first three baskets of his NBA career on dunks off of feeds from Josh Smith, illustrating the fact that he runs much better than the average big man. I am very eager to see how he matches up with Amare on Wednesday night.
4. Joe Johnson - Ho hum. 51 points on 39 shots. He was money at the end last night, shooting the team back into the game after they fell behind. He still doesn't get to the foul line, but everything else about his game is great.
5. The Crowd at Philips - No joke, the fans at Philips were lively on Friday night. I was hoarse after the game and I can't remember the last time I've said that after a Hawks game. The crowd was a little late-arriving, but the arena was full by halftime and people seemed genuinely excited about the team as opposed to just being there to catch a glimpse of Usher. The only disappointment with the whole experience was that Der Wife thought that the Spirit Shakers handed out at the game would be Graggers and that did not turn out to be the case.
My one concern after the first two games is that Josh Smith hasn't changed. He's 9/33 from the field with 11 turnovers after two games. Rooting for him is like rooting for Michael Vick: he does things on the court that are tremendously exciting and then two minutes later, you're banging your forehead after he does something dumb. He was dominant in the first quarter against Dallas, scoring, rebounding, guarding Dirk, and setting up teammates left and right. At the same time, he was making stupid passes and dribbling into terrible situations. Until he makes better decisions, the Hawks' best bet will be to keep the ball out of his hands.