Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Time For Coca-Cola And Rooting For, Yea, H-a-w-k-s

Atlanta Hawks hoops team, founded in 1946, is based in Atlanta, Georgia since 1968. They have one NBA championship, 1958, when their home was St. Louis. Last conference crown came in 1960. Last divison title is from 1994. Last playoff appearance? Who remembers? And if you're scoring at home, this season... it's 50 years of rings drought for Hawks...

My buddy George watched the Atlanta Hawks media day back in October and heard the "p" word. Wait a minute. Playoffs for Hawks. Don't make me fool. But if you think about it a little longer, after the league's longest drought at eight years, isn't this that magic season? Can they make some noise? So is this a playoff team?

Head coach Mike Woodson was talking about 'a legitimate shot of making the playoffs', the past of 'teaching, teaching, teaching', that - *Some of our young guys have gotten much, much better. Some of them I can't even call them young guys anymore.* The following sentece should have made my p.s. list, *They're not babies anymore.* Fourth seasons for Joshs Smith & Childress and third (!) for 'The Lost Hawk' Marvin 'Nobody-Cares-About-Me' Williams.

Bring the Hawks' versatile hero, Joe Johnson. With his calf strain injury from last season gone, he's ready to roll. And fly. *I know we haven't had great results, but I wanted to be part of this rebuilding process.* Nowadays, Atlanta hasn't got many fans around the world and I don't even mention the folks in Atlanta, that care more about weather forecast on Sunday than this pro-hoops franchise. This should soon change. Maybe not in a hurry, but some steps are visible: Many fans gorge on Hawks players' unbelievable dunks and acrobatics. That's not much, but at least it may be the start of rooting for these guys.

Their famous leaper Josh Smith, hopefully matured enough after some years in the NBA, is one of the fan-favorites, regarding elevation. *We can't just talk about it, but I think we have enough depth to get it done.* A summer working out with former greats Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon can pay off later - during the season.

Sixth-man J-Child, a brand-new sociologist, was eager to prove, too. *No question about it. The mindset we have is we're shooting for the playoffs and I think we all feel we're ready.* There are questions, Josh, however, not as big as there were last season. Personally, I think this team is finally getting it right. Before the season, I told that if Hawks are at least 2-2 after the first four battles, then the season looks bright for them. Dallas at home, roads in Detroit and NJ, homer vs. Suns. Recent seasons, a sure-fire 0-4. Today? 2-2. Wow!

Most of the experts are convinced that this version of Hawks is strongly focused on the right things. My BAFS Freaks insider mailed me four-five weeks ago that 07-08 Hawks 'have been in town for a few weeks (before the preseason) working out'. Insider Eddie wrote me on that sme day, that he's awe-struck by rookie big man Al Horford. *A couple players threw out the word 'beast'. And honestly, I mean this is the ROY-to-be guy, not Durant,* said Eddie. Maybe not in points scored, because with the horrible Sonics Kevin D can fire up everything what he desires, but overall. Helping the team make the postseason, perhaps.

Former Florida career-successfull standout, it looks so, enchanted not only observers, but even his coaches, namely the boss Woodson. *I think he's going to be a big-time player in our league for a long time. It's no joke, his team winning two national titles." That ain't no joke, baby. His game is incredibly good for a young rook. On a different team, Horford could easily be stats-filler, but Atlanta got some other players that could see some playing time. He can help with D, he can help with offense. According to the first games of the season, he got a solid face-up game and a veeery good jump hook. Al's a good passer from down low and even the high post. No surprise, he's a strong defender and rebounder.

One of the catch-me stories of the season will be a five-man competition for minutes at point guard between Speedy Claxton, who won one ring with Spurs in 2003, Tyronn Lue, who won two rings with Kobe and Shaq as a Laker, Anthony Johnson, a career journeyman, Acie Law IV, the second Hawks' rookie, and Salim Stoudamire. Coach Woodson said this before the season about Speedy, who stank as a free agent pickup last year: *It's good to have Speedy back healthy. He's by far been the biggest surprise in the last three weeks playing here. To me he's the Speedy of old. He's happy, he's talking, he's up and down the floor making plays, and he's not laboring like last year.* As they say, when one is talking again, it's the sign of good thing to come.

Lue is be more comfortable coming off the bench anyway - he's played that the past few seasons. *1 through the 5, I don't care, just put me out there. I'll start, come off the bench, 12th off the bench, whatever.* 12the off the Hawks bench? Are u kiddin me? Mmm, Hawks are quite stacked this season. They have 15 players under contract, at G Claxton, who is making second-most $6,306,182 this season, Johnson, who is the oldest man of this group, year 1974, Lue from Nebraska (?!), Law IV, gritty competitor, Stoudamire (Salim), quite unknown Mario West, JJ can play 1 thru 3 with the highest salary of $13,488,378. At F there are Childress, Smith, Shelden Williams (Hawks got so mamy Wiliamses that it's puzzling), who certainly got some potential, Marvin W. (time for him is right now), roster-complement Solomon Jones. At C stage, Al, who is more of PF but I'm giving him the nod as a center for Hawks, Zaza Pachulia (Can you imagine him playing as a not-Hawk? He's got a life-long Hawks pass.) and Lorenzen Wright, a veteran presence. Among assistant coaches, you maybe know Larry Drew.

I totally belive the Hawks will surpass last season's total of 30 wins. They're dangerous at home, but need more good team effort on the road. Hawks have tremendous athletes and are the team that wants to play fast, what can be an issue since their starting PG drama is not worked out.

In their first game, they won against super-good Mavs, 101:94, and in the last quarter ripped Dallas' D for 33 points - the first home-court-opener victory since 1998. JJ netted 28 points, J. Smith recorded 18/11 line, Marvin added 16 & Ty Lue 14 points. They allowed Mavs just 4 bulls-eye threes, 20 3-pointers were missed. Rebounds? 50:38 for Hawks, off-rebs 14:7. Even in game 2 they played very well and only huge end-game Pistons attack saved the day for Detroit, a free-throw of Billups 1.7 to go. ATL lost 91:92, led by JJ's 23 pts.

A trip to New Jersey ended with another tight loss, 82:87, when Nets played great defense and held Hawks on the mark 38% from the field. Again, ballhandling... 20 turnovers... Hawks had four players between 18 and 13 points. Return home and back on the winning track against... Phoenix. 4:42 to go, Nash hits his shot and it's 90:87. But Marvin W. (20/12, ohmygod!) shows his increased confidence and hits two important mid-rangers in succession. Eventually, they won 105:96, behind Josh's 22/10, behind rebounding margin 56:40 (Al snatched 15 boards).

Heat, Wizards? Please. Sixers, Bobcats, Pacers, Bucks? Please. Raptors, Knicks, Cavs? Maybe... Bulls look AWFUL. Celts, Pistons, Magic, Nets - Playoffs 2008, so...

...maybe it's finally time for Hawks to fly to playoffs land. I believe that. I think that. And if no, I'm foolish and at least enjoy their mascots Skyhawk & Harry the Hawk. And a few dunkers, alley-oops and the lottery. Heck! We believe, it's time for Coca-Cola in 2008, throw away your Sprite!

(College basketbal begins, baby!!!)

p.s.: two years ago, brent barry celebrated his first nba championship ring - he kissed the man who gave it to him, that would be david stern, on the cheek.
*it was like kissing my grandmother,* barry recalled.
p.s.2: kings' 1st half vs. spurs - just 7 fgs made (19.4 %), 23 pts scored, both team-record lows.
the low-point mark broke a record set in 1957.
*i don't know how to fix 19 percent shooting or when you get beat on the boards (50-35),* said kings coach reggie theus.
*it's hard to get anything with that combination.*
p.s.3: kobe bryant is a great player, but in a team sport like basketball he lacks the ability, on his own, to deliver an nba championship. (-chad ford)
p.s.4: shaq o'neal is sporting a new, more rugged look, with a full beard below his shaved head.
*it's my mountain-man look.
call me 'the big rogue',* said shaq.
p.s.5: with jason richardson on one wing and gerald wallace on the other, charlotte offense features less movement than a wax museum. (-randy hill)

Posted by Foreigner in CS - Nov 9 2007 12:51PM

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