HAWKSVILLE – After a reasonably injury-free preseason the Hawks came crashing back to reality Sunday.
Al Horford sat on a corner table with wires hanging from his ankle (courtesy of a twisting in Friday’s loss in Orlando) and Mike Bibby joined him later on wire duty (on his non-shooting wrist) after jamming it during a drill in practice.
That scowl on Hawks coach Mike Woodson’s face, also a product of Friday’s dismal showing against Magic, immediately turned into a look of worry.
Woodson hadn’t planned on either his starting center or point guard being questionable for Wednesday’s regular season opener against Indiana at Philips Arena.
But as of this morning there’s some concern that one or both of them will be forced to play at less than 100 percent against the Pacers.
“Al tweaked his ankle and he tried to go a little bit [Sunday], but he said it wasn’t responding,” Woodson said. “I hope both of these guys are ready.”
Woodson said he would know more after today’s practice, which wraps up early this afternoon (check back here for more updates as the day goes on).
I asked Woodson what he would do if either one of them isn’t ready to play Wednesday night and he admitted that he hadn’t thought about that yet; he’s understandably holding out hope that both will be fine (and in all likelihood, they should be able to play).
But what happens if they do have to sit?
What would you do?
Mario West isn’t around anymore to insert into the lineup on those crazy nights when you need a fill-in starter and want to keep your bench rotation the way you like it. So it’s a dilemma the Hawks surely aren’t interested in having to deal with on the eve of the season.
My easy answer to fix this problem, if it actually becomes a problem, is to go with Jamal Crawford at the point and Zaza Pachulia as fill in starters.
So the Hawks unveiled their new red, alternate uniforms (above) at the Paint the Town affair Sunday, huh?
Funny, I remember seeing these things in the summer. Or at least a very real knock off. I like the red joints. I even like the ATL on the chest (even though I’d have loved to see the Pac-Man logo brought back just to clown). I’d much rather they come with the red stuff than one of those two-tone alternate sets like the Wizards sport or a silver get up like the Mavericks sport every once in a while. And they’re much better than those pale yellow joints that the Hawks rocked a couple years back.
If you’re not a fan of the new stuff, don’t fret. From what I understand the Hawks won’t be wearing these new uniforms much this season.
VIDEO SELECTION OF THE DAY
Injury news aside, Horford is caliente in the streets these days. Not only is he a part of the NBA’s new Hispanic marketing campaign, there’s some fresh video circulating of him being interviewed for CNN’s “Latino in America” series. In case you missed it:
As you might imagine, the Magic game was the topic of discussion for several observers. The recurring theme was that they were glad the Hawks got smacked around a little bit and that it served as the wake-up call needed for a team that had gotten a little comfortable abusing other teams during the preseason.
“That game was a perfect illustration of what we can’t do this season, against anybody,” one keen observer pointed out. “Orlando is so good inside and out that you have to pick your poison and just deal with it. We doubled Dwight Howard in the first half and did a pretty good job of limiting him but they shot lights out from deep and buried us. After halftime we stopped doubling Dwight and he ate us alive. That was a tactical error on our part. By then the shooters were already in a rhythm and we couldn’t do anything to slow them down inside or out. They just took us apart. That’s what will happen to you against a great team like that, and I don’t care what anybody says, that’s a great team. Orlando making [the NBA Finals] was the worst thing that could happen to the rest of us. They didn’t even need Rashard [Lewis] the other night and they ran away with it. They’re going to do that to a lot of people this year.”
I mentioned that I thought the Hawks’ strategy to play the Magic in a half court game was as flawed as always, only to be reminded that the Hawks couldn’t run with the Magic making nearly 70 percent of their shots during on stretch. But my point remains, the Hawks will never have a half court advantage against the Magic. Dwight is too big and dominant. And Jameer Nelson can probe the defense and find shooters all day long if you’re working just half the floor. The Hawks waxed the Magic to start last season by beating them up and down the floor and forcing the action. I said it then and I’ll say it again, that’s the blueprint they need to use every night. Every single night.
Veteran big man Joe Smith (aka Joe Beast) is a bit of a lyrical star himself, having owned his own record company for years and showing off MC skills some of his NBA brethren wish they had. He’s whipped up an intro song for the Hawks that he played in the locker room after Sunday’s practice that had a menacing sound to it (there were heads bouncing as it played. It had me bouncing, too, for pure clown effect, of course). Seriously, it sounds good. I’m working on locating a bootleg copy of the track for you to hear before it hits the charts. In the meantime, check out this playoff track he cooked up for Cleveland last season: