The local professional basketball collective completed a perfect 7-0 homestand last night with a win over Dallas. The team now has a four-game lead over Miami for the #4 seed and they retain an outside shot at winning 50 games, as they would need a 9-4 finish to accomplish that feat. Some quick thoughts on the team:
1. You think that Marvin Williams' value on the free agent market went down a little with the team playing some of its best basketball of the year after Marvin hurt his back? The team's strong performance this year without Josh Childress and now Williams illustrates that non-superstar swing men are totally fungible in the NBA. In fact, I'd argue that the only two players on the team who are not fungible are Joe Johnson (because quality lead scorers are hard to find) and Al Horford (because big men who can score are hard to find). Kudos to Rick Sund for figuring this out and bringing in Maurice Evans as a replacement swing man.
2. Remember when Mike Woodson and Josh Smith had their little tiff in Charlotte? Smith has averaged 17 points and ten rebounds per game on the homestand. Not coincidentally, he has three three-point attempts in the seven games. His rebounding numbers are especially important because that's a weak suit for the Hawks. If Josh cares enough to clean the glass, then this is a very good team.
3. Al Horford has also played very well over the stretch, averaging 14.6 ppg and ten boards. Again, this team is better when its power players do well on the glass. Al also seems energized. I don't know if the Hawks are making a more concerted effort to get him involved offensively, but if that is the case, good idea, Mike!
4. In the seven-game homestand, the Hawks didn't allow an opponent to score over 100 points and only two opponents broke 90. Might that have something to do with Maurice Evans playing more minutes?
5. Just a theory: the Hawks' ownership mess has helped the team because the resulting impasse has prevented them from making major moves like firing the coach. As a result, whereas Mike Woodson would have been blown out in most cities after a poor start to his head coaching career, he's been allowed to grow with the team. The ownership instability has had the effect of creating stability for a collection of young players who have only played in one system for their young careers.