Sup folks. I caught my first half of Hawks regular-season basketball Friday night, so here are a few quick observations. First, my projection of the Hawks as a fringe playoff team has been given the lie by the win at defending Western Conference champs Oklahoma City and the scare the team put into defending NBA champs Miami.
Secondly, the player who took more long two pointers than anybody but Kobe Bryant last year has regressed as a jump shooter. The self-styled "mid-range shawty" has shot a paltry 3-for-18 outside the paint this season.
With Joe Johnson out of the picture, it seemed obvious that Smith would be the team's leading scorer. That may still come to pass, but as of this moment the team's leader in scoring, assists and steals is Jeff Teague.
Against Miami, Teague's inner dog was fresh out the pound. His back-to-back 3-pointers tied the game at 85-85 with 4:03 to play. It was rather amusing to watch a series of Teague highlights at the start of the 4th quarter followed by a cut to Teague sitting on the bench during the 8-minute stretch that lost the game for the Hawks.
If you look at PopcornMachine.net's game flow, you see that from the time Teague went to the bench with 4 minutes to play in the 3rd until he returned with 8 minutes remaining in the game, the Hawks went from down 64-62 to an 81-73 deficit. During that stretch, Larry Drew tried genius lineups such as Lou Williams, Anthony Morrow, Devin Harris, Anthony Tolliver and Zaza Pachulia against Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, Lebron James and Udonis Haslem.
Williams, Harris and DeShawn Stevenson combined to play 63 minutes, shoot 2-for-16 and score 9 points. By contrast, Morrow was 6-for-11 with 17 points. He played only 15 minutes.
Williams' errant shooting in the pre-season (37% from the field, 29% from 3-point range) has carried over into the regular season, where he is shooting 33% from either range. The fact that the team is 2-2, having played three games against teams that project to have home court advantage in the playoffs, is impressive. This is especially the case when you consider that Teague is the only Hawk presently playing at an All-Star level.
After the 4-game road trip that starts with tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hawks will play 7-of-8 at home, including only two opponents that project as playoff teams. November could be the first of many months that the Hawks' poorly-constructed roster finishes above .500.