Atlanta winds down the season against Washington, Miami, and Charlotte, and with a chance to make a slight improvement on their otherwise underwhelming record. Could the Hawks succeed in their final three games and at least match their 2008-2009 record of 47 wins? If the loss to Indiana last night, coupled with the need to rest ailing starters is any indication, then answer is quite possibly “no.” Besides, resting the starters is something the Hawks really need to do, what with their impending first round battle with the Orlando Magic.
In the meantime, guys like Jeff Teague should see plenty of minutes. But what about the backup bigs? It may be somehat prudent of Larry Drew to give Hilton Armstrong and Etan Thomas some minutes just in case they are needed in the postseason. We may even have another Pape Sy sighting, though that has nothing to do with the playoffs, and everything to do with trying to make offhand observations about a 2nd round draft pick whom we still know so very little about when it comes to basketball skills. This is also a good time to get Damien Wilkins upwards of 20-25 minutes, as he could be a bigger contributor in the postseason than we might automatically assume.
Hawks vs. Wizards
The Wiz have nothing to play for other than pride (not really) and experience (very young team). As such, they’ll play their starters for much of the game, which means they may finally earn that victory against Atlanta that has eluded them for so long. However, there is some attraction to an otherwise mundane game, what with the Hawks squaring off against a familiar face. How will former Hawks first round pick Jordan Crawford fare against his “old” team? If nothing else, it will be entertaining to see just how well the trigger happy youngster does against what should be mostly second unit action, so perhaps any conclusions won’t be all that substantiated. Then again, Crawford may prove that he was a prospect worth holding onto. Which way do YOU see it?
Hawks vs Heat
A snoozer, most likely. The Heat will want to preserve their starters, so this will be a battle of backups and end of the bench guys. All the same, anybody wanting to see Teague play 30+ minutes will probably be pleased. That, and the work will do Teague some good. Sy gets another shot at another 3 minute stint, maybe longer. Then again, the Heat may still be fighting a late battle that could push them to play hard until the last game of the season.
Hawks vs. Bobcats
Guaranteed a spot on the bleachers in the postseason, the Bobcats are another team with nothing to play for but pride. It’s entirely possible that this game is also a bit of a snoozer, and with no Gerald Wallace or Raymond Felton around, the ‘Cats may not give the Hawks as much trouble as they usually do. Still, a Teague/DJ Augustin matchup has to be worth something in the way of a tune-up for the 2nd year Atlanta guard. Why do I keep mentioning Teague? Because he, like Damien Wilkins, may actually turn out to be a key reserve in the playoffs when other things aren’t working. You just never know. So, some significant PT in the last three games certainly can’t hurt, can it?
So that’s it, three games and then the “true test” for this team will be staring them in the face. How will the Hawks prepare for the postseason? Should they go with Larry Drew’s assertion that they should keep playing to the last minute of the regular season, or should they gear back a bit and let the reserves do the work? One way or the other, I think the players are going to do what they each individually want to do.
Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog