HAWKSVILLE – So this is what the preseason looks like when your team is good enough to know that it means nothing.
The starters play sparingly. You don’t really care if your team wins or loses. And you get to know the free agent campers and rookies a little more than you probably want to in some cases. But until we get closer to the “real” games, this is it.
With a group of reporters in his office 90 minutes before the opening tip of Monday’s game against Charlotte at Philips Arena, Hawks coach Mike Woodson admitted as much, when asked when he was going to unleash his starters for more than 20 hot minutes (by time you finish here they should be done for the night).
“When we get to Washington (Oct. 19), Miami (Oct. 22 in Jacksonville) and Orlando (Oct. 23 in Dwightlando on ESPN),” Woodson said. “Those last three [preseason games], that’s when we’ll really start to burn these guys, because those a three teams we’re going to see.”
The Hawks are going to see all three of those teams in the Southeast Division race and in the Eastern Conference playoff chase all season long. So there’s logic behind this strategy of picking and choosing when you want to press the issue in the preseason and when you want to pull back.
As recently as last year Woodson was in winning-is-everything-even-in-the-preseason mode, to the eventual detriment of his own team (if you ask me). Guys like Joe Johnson and Josh Smith and Al Horford logged way too many minutes in the preseason last year. But Woodson insisted he was trying to teach his team how to win, even if that meant winning games that essentially meant nothing.
His mood has changed completely since then. Credit those back-to-back playoff trips, and the wisdom that comes along with them, for changing Woodson’s ways. You can credit whomever and whatever you want. Just be glad that you can watch games this time of year knowing that your team has every reason to be confident that wins and losses in October (at least early October) have no bearing on what might transpire over the next six months.
FORMER HAWKS IN THE MIX
Guys who used to wear Hawks jerseys were in the crosshairs Monday night here in Atlanta and elsewhere. Flip Murray rolled into the building with the Bobcats but didn’t play against the Hawks (something about a sore shin). Former Hawks swingman Josh Childress (below talking with my main man Branson Wright) was at the Q in Cleveland with his Olympiacos teammates, playing against LeBron and Shaq and the Cavaliers. Their replacements weren’t on the floor Monday night either. Jamal Crawford (calf) and Mo Evans (bone bruise) are still resting for the Hawks and probably will be until this time next week.
|Branson Wright talks with Josh Childress|