Before sending Mike Bibby [PG], Maurice Evans [G/F] and Jordan Crawford [G] to the Washington Wizards, prior to the NBA’s deadline, in exchange for Kirk Hinrich [G] and Hilton Armstrong [PF/C], the Atlanta Hawks [40-32/.556] were firmly ensconced in the top half of the Eastern Conference with a Won-Loss Record of 34-23/.596.
Since that deal was made, however, the Hawks have been in a fairly rapid decent [i.e. W-L Rec/6-9/.400], and are now in danger of relinquishing the No. 5 position in the East to the hard-charging Philadelphia 76ers [37-34/.521].
Unlike assorted others in the on-line hoops community, who believe that the Hawks are in total disarray right now …
The team is in a freefall mostly because it isn’t shooting as well as it used to. Joe Johnson still has his moments but he isn’t the sort of offensive force to build around, and while newly-added Kirk Hinrich is actually making nearly half of his three-pointers as a Hawk, everyone else seems to be falling short.
Worse? Everyone else seems to be falling into a bit of a funk. On record.
The Hawks have no “sense of pride, a sense of urgency. … We should play for one another, but yet still we don’t.” And that “countless” players-only meetings meant to stir the echoes have “meant nothing.”
“We just have to be mentally stronger.”
Coach Larry Drew?
His team is “a little fragile right now,” and the Hawks “have got to heal, more so mentally than physically.”
“When you don’t help each other, it gets contagious. We just didn’t show any kind of resistance.”
this corner of the blogosphere can see a clear way out for the Hawks, if they will just remain calm and search for the right answer to their current set of problems, from within the cozy confines of their own roster of players.
If the Hawks go with the following rotation in their next game [Sat Mar 26, vs New Jersey]:
PG, Jeff Teague [i.e. their best play-making PG]
OG, Joe Johnson
SF, Marvin Williams
PF, Josh Smith
C, Al Horford
G, Jamal Crawford [i.e. their best "scorer" off the bench]
G, Kirk Hinrich [i.e. their best "defensive Guard" off the bench]
SF, Damien Wilkins
PF, Josh Powell [i.e. their best "mid-range shooting Big" off the bench]
C, Zaza Pachulia [i.e. their best "rebounding/defensive Big" off the bench]
PF/C, Etan Thomas
C, Jason Collins
SF, Pape Sy
PF/C, Hilton Armstrong
and, therefore, use MORE of their avalibale players … as opposed to scaling back the number of players they use in their regular rotation, which is precisely the major mistake that Larry Drew [Head Coach] has made, since the trade for Kirk Hinrich was completed … it should come as no surprise, at all, to see this team register a very badly needed W.
Once the Hawks can right their ship, by getting this W, and establishing a clear rotation, as outlined above, Atlanta should then be able to string together a modest 3-game winning streak:
Sat Mar 26 vs New Jersey, W?
Sun Mar 27 @ Cleveland, W?
Wed Mar 30 vs Orlando, W?
before taking on the Boston Celtics, at home, on April Fool’s Day.
Although the Hawks have only played at a .400 clip since the trade deadline, it should be noted that:
3-0, vs. sub-.500 [at the time of the game]
Fri Feb 25, @ GSW, W
Tue Mar 15, vs MIL, W
Sun Mar 20, vs DET, W
3-9, vs. plus-.500 [at the time of the game]
Sun Feb 27, @ POR, W
Mon Feb 28, @ DEN, L
Wed Mar 02, vs CHI, W
Fri Mar 04, vs OKC, L
Sun Mar 06, vs NYK, L
Tue Feb 08, vs LAL, L
Fri Mar 11, @ CHI, L
Sat Mar 12, vs POR, W
Wed Mar 16, vs DEN, L
Fri Mar 18, vs MIA, L
Tue Mar 22, vs CHI, L
Wed Mar 23, @ PHI, L
i. They have played an extremely difficult schedule of games;
ii. Each one of their losses has been to a team in the top half of the league standings … with a great deal at stake, at the time of the game;
iii. Atlanta has basically been in cruise-control since the end of January:
Hawks W-L Record, Month-By-Month
February [before the trade deadline], 4-5
secure in the knowledge that their team is probably not good enough to move into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference AND not bad enough to fall completely out of playoff contention.
As long as Larry Drew can keep his wits about him for the rest of the regular season schedule … and settle on the rotation suggested here … the Hawks should be able to regain their footing and re-establish themselves as the 5th best team in the East this season.