Depth revealed (sort of)?

Did you see enough of Hawks rookie point guard Jeff Teague in the season opener? Hawks coach Mike Woodson's rotation was 10-deep but as expected, the minutes were lopsided in favor of the starters.

Did you see enough of Hawks rookie point guard Jeff Teague in the season opener? Hawks coach Mike Woodson's rotation was 10-deep but as expected, the minutes were lopsided in favor of the starters.

HAWKSVILLE – Did you see enough of Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith Wednesday night?

How about Jeff Teague and Mo Evans?

Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins?

I didn’t think so.

Sure, the Hawks did what they had to do in dispatching the Indiana Pacers in their season opener. But I expected more, namely in minutes for the reserves.

We’ve heard for weeks about all this improved depth and how much deeper this team is going to be this season. We saw it in the preseason.

But it wasn’t on display against the Pacers.

Sure, everyone played a minimum of 10 minutes and no one played more than 40 (though Joe Johnson was knocking on the door at 39:23). And they did win the game doing it this way.

But 13 minutes and 36 seconds for Crawford and 10:48 for Smith seems a bit light to me, particularly in a game where the Hawks needed every bit of firepower they could muster to hold of the scrappy Pacers.

“I feel like we kind of succumbed to the way they wanted to play and to the rotation they wanted us to use instead of milking that newly formed bench we brought in here,” said Mo Evans, who made the most of his limited time, piling p 12 points in just 15 minutes. “We’ve got to learn how to trust our second unit as well to go out there and play. We’ve got a lot of talent over there and I think we got a little nervous because they were out there making shots and then we had to extend our starters’ minutes a little longer than we probably wanted. That’s not going to work during those stretches when we have four games in five or six nights.”

Stretches like the one the Hawks will face this weekend with Washington and into the middle of next week’s Western Conference road swing.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson took several questions about his playing rotation after the game – in his defense he did play 10 men in the third quarter, something he never did last season.

“We’re all trying to get used to one another,” he said. “They’re especially trying to get used to me and what I’m expecting when they’re out on the floor. Overall, I thought it was a great effort on everybody’s part, and we were able to secure the win. And that’s what’s most important.”

THE CLOSER

Mike Bibby didn’t crank his offense up until late against the Pacers, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. It’s a new role for the Hawks’ veteran point guard, who is adjusting to so many different offensive options that have either matured or been added since last season.

“I’m going to be a little bit more aggressive,” Bibby said laughing. “Hey, it’s my 12th year. I still get first game jitters.”

He didn’t flinch in the fourth quarter, though, showing that he’s always willing to take and make big shots with the game on the line.

His 3-pointer with the Hawks trailing 101-100 with 8:05 to play put them ahead to stay and his running jumper with 7:28 left gave the Hawks another quick jolt. His 3-pointer with 2:43 left gave the Hawks a 115-105 lead and a little insurance.

But his best work might have been done in the facilitation of the Hawks’ offense all night.

Bibby was efficient and allowed his teammates to make plays of their own (his willingness to keep everyone in a good flow is easily one of his most underrated qualities).

“Mike was doing a great job of getting the ball in the right spots and I was just shooting with confidence,” Al Horford said after his 24-point, 16-rebound effort.

HARD TO MISS

If Johnson’s confidence in his teammates wasn’t sky-high before Wednesday’s game it is now.

After watching Horford and Josh Smith tote the load on both ends of the floor early, he was full of praise after the game.

“I know those guys worked on their games over the summer and you can tell,” he said. “I know it’s the first game, but you can tell they’ve been working. I’m glad they came back with the mindset that they have and that’s what it’s going to take to get us over the top.”

It worked against the Pacers. While many of the Hawks’ looked rattled early as the Pacers piled up the points, Smith and Horford were steadying forces.

“For it to be the first game, you have so many jitters and you’re so anxious to get out there and play,” Johnson said. “I just really wanted to get into the flow of the game early. But it doesn’t always work that way, so I just tried to pick my spots. Al and Josh played great tonight. I thought they were the two guys that got us over the hump.”

The proof was in the Hawks scoring edge inside. They pounded the Pacers 54-38 in the paint.

ROOKIE DEBUT

Another guy that didn’t seem at all fazed by the moment was Teague, the rookie point guard. He certainly wasn’t shy (he took for more shots than Crawford and finished with five points, four assists and three rebounds).

“He looked comfortable out there,” Marvin Williams said. “I like that about him. He’s fearless.”

THE BIG FINISH

Whatever complaints you want to make about the Hawks’ defensive effort through the first three quarters is valid. The fourth quarter, however, was another story.

They limited the Pacers to a 5-for-15 shooting effort (33 percent) and forced six turnovers, allowing just 15 points in the game’s final stanza.

“They’re a tough team from an offensive standpoint,” Woodson said. “They keep you on your heels by pushing the ball constantly and if you’re not back and matching up with their 3-point shooters, they’re capable of making shots like they did tonight. But I thought that fourth quarter, when we really had to nail it down defensively; guys stepped up and made the plays they had to make.”

192 comments Add your comment

Ariose

October 29th, 2009
12:09 am

Mystikal

October 29th, 2009
12:21 am

I agree I think the minutes still could have been dispersed better. I acknowledge it was only the first game, but we were expecting this big change. It defeats the purpose of having a ten deep roster not to use it. I think it makes it easier for other teams to key on JJ when you play him 40+ min. It sends the impression that we are still live or die by JJ and other teams just key on him. I’d like to see Crawford and Teague at least get 18 and 15 min respectively. I didn’t get to see the game but am very happy to hear Horford got all the touches he did, and look what happened.. an impressive double-double. It’s only going to get harder from here though, so we need to be adjusting like now!

Mystikal

October 29th, 2009
12:22 am

Oh yeah, second!

Mike is back

October 29th, 2009
12:24 am

Ariose, you must got some metaphysical thing going…I was about to be first then browser shut down…great win…GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mystikal

October 29th, 2009
12:27 am

I really see there are tiers in the league now. That top tier has been fonded over the past couple weeks (Lakers, spurs, Celtics, Magic, and not sure if Cavs deserve to be there yet). The hawks are in the next tier and not sure as of yet how close they are to the top. They let a sub-par Indiana squad stay in the game longer than they should have. It is opening night though and they played well overall. They have many new pieces and are still feeling each other out. I’m sure they’ll continue to get better and hopefully Woody will spread the wealth with the minutes.

i_am_soulstar

October 29th, 2009
12:55 am

i think Woody did as well as expected with divying out minutes.. and he’ll get better as the season continues (i pray)

Wabe

October 29th, 2009
1:02 am

Offensively, I loved the mixture of contributions from our Hawks. I was a bit surprised to see Crawford only log about 14 minutes. Think he’ll end up playing his way into a bigger role as the season gets going. Down low, I think Woody simply went with the hot hand tonite. Horford played a solid game – and it’s really gonna end up being a fight for minutes between Pachulia/Joe Smith/Collins this season.

Wasn’t as thrilled with our defensive effort tonite. But we kinda picked things up in the 4th quarter when we needed to. We’ll see how things go on this end as the season goes along.

On another note, I’m watching this Denver/Utah game and TY LAWSON IS A BEAST! The guy is proving he’s the most NBA ready PG coming out of this years draft. You’d expect that though seeing he played 4 years at UNC.

northcyde

October 29th, 2009
1:10 am

The minute the Hawks lose a close game, with JJ only playing 31 minutes in the game, people will have a fit. Like Woody said . . he’s not going to sacrifice games just to get guys minutes.

Good job Hawks, and good job Woody. Can’t get into a shootout like that against the Wizards though.

Big Ray

October 29th, 2009
1:13 am

I’m not going to trip too hard about the minutes, now that I think about it. Woody is putting his toe in the water to see how cold it is. I’ll say this much: in years past, he wouldn’t even walk near the pool.

Now if this is how it looks 10 games later, that’s a different story. By then it should be obvious. One thing to remember is that sometimes you just have to play it out. But I already know the answer to that: Woody is going to do whatever he thinks it will take to win the game.

Big Ray

October 29th, 2009
1:15 am

Northcyde,

That’s probably true, LOL! On the flip side of the coin, if this team doesn’t improve defensively, that comes back to Woody. I know it’s the players who perform on the court. But if he’s preaching defense, and they aren’t listening….then what are they also not listening to?

The Truth

October 29th, 2009
1:32 am

Sekou
This comment: But 13 minutes and 36 seconds for Crawford and 10:48 for Smith seems a bit light to me, particularly in a game where the Hawks needed every bit of firepower they could muster to hold of the scrappy Pacers.

Woody went with the offense producers and better defenders. Crawford didn’t look comfortable to me. He is playing somewhat passive. This game was no gimme either. It went down to late in the 4th before it was decided. It seems Crawford is still searching for his offense game with this team. It’s early in the season but he hasn’t found it yet. Woody is going to win by any means necessary.

Northcyde is LAME

October 29th, 2009
1:42 am

You are such a lamo apologist Northcyde. Please spare us. To think I actually thought you knew something because you were one of three regular posters on ESPN.com before I knew about the ‘Squawk.

Woody is ALREADY mismanaging our bench and I have little doubts he will continue to run Joe into the ground….as he has every season. First it was because he “had to secure a playoff spot”. Last year we just had to get that “home court advantage” (I guess?). This year I guess Woody is already trying to save his job?

We shouldn’t have to play JJ more minutes than LeBron, Kobe, CP3, Wade and EVERYONE ELSE to win games! Period.

rms

October 29th, 2009
1:59 am

I dont think it was the Hawks defense that slowed the Pacers down in the fourth quarter it was the Pacers giving the ball away and their bad shot selection and just flat out missing shots. Earlier in the game they were nailing three-pointers and attacking the basket. Then at the end they just got sloppy.

neshield

October 29th, 2009
2:16 am

Great win HAWKS!!! I think Horford and J- Smoov are the keys to this season. If they continue to play well then teams can’t just key on J. Johnson. Also when we needed to slow down Granger it was good to see Joe step up to the plate and play him tight.

keno

October 29th, 2009
2:46 am

Did Crawford have opening night jitters? He had more fouls than shot attempts and seemed to be a little slow on the defensive rotation. Did Woody bench him near the end of the 3rd quarter? He never returned to the game. Joe finished out the 3rd and played all of the fourth. That would explain the 39 minutes. I suppose if Crawford hadn’t gotten that 4th foul, Joe would have entered the game in the fourth the same time as Granger. Just a thought.

Ramon

October 29th, 2009
4:36 am

I don’t know if people is noticing this, but Josh Smith is EVERYWHERE now! His agent/marketing consultant has to be happy with whats been taking place the last 3-4 months. I really feel the practices with the US team was underrated for Josh’s game and popularity.

Also although he may be opposed to it, if Lebron enters the dunk contest, I would love to see Josh take him on (especially the way he’s been jumping now that he’s lost a few pounds).
SEKOU is there anyway you could find out if Josh will consider facing Lebron? I’m sure Adidas will love it also lol.

Ramon

October 29th, 2009
4:39 am

The bench couldn’t maintain the lead. I agree with North, if the bench players get 19 min, and the Hawks lose the game the atmosphere would be totally different. Kobe and Roy got 38 minutes a piece in their games. Lebron got even more while playing 3 positions at one time (as someone eluded to earlier). I don’t want to see this happen every single night. But the first game of the season, with the adrenaline going and how long it took Joe to find a rhythm, 39 minutes isn’t so bad. I always believe 35+ minutes in an up and down game is a lot different than those amount of minutes in the old school Knicks type of game.

Coach D

October 29th, 2009
5:15 am

CHILL! The Hawks won. Woody played Joe too much, but one cannot judge a season by one 1/82 of a sample! IF Joe plays more than 38 or so minutes a game on average by the end of the year, Woody needs to go. I agree wholeheartedly with the assessment about Joe not playing more than the other star shooting guards. The reality of the matter is that some scouts have said JJ is the third shooting guard they’d take behind Bryant and Kobe…. So it would probably be tough for any of us to sit him on the bench for a long time if we were the coach as well.
Washington is going to be a good measuring stick come Friday. They beat the Mavericks on Tuesday. FLY HAWKS, FLY!

The ONLY Hawaiian Hawk Fan

October 29th, 2009
5:31 am

The starters spent most of the 3rd Q. that the 2nd unit gave right back quickly. Maybe by Dec. or Jan. we might get our 2nd unit clicking on all cylinders but tonight they weren’t. No biggie. No one got hurt and at least we know that we can make big adjustments in the middle of the game. Smoove was great on D and Horford was a beast. The NBA is lucky that this guy ain’t 7′1″. I would love to see Mo Evans get more minutes. That guys shot is ON.

vava74

October 29th, 2009
6:29 am

It is crucial that we start the season strong.

For that Woody needs to keep the rotation tight, playoff type, for at least the first 10 games so we can have a nice head start.

The last thing we need is to experiment too much early and be stranded in the middle of the Philly, Chicago, Indiana teams battling for the #5 or #6 seeds… We need to establish early that the #4 seed is already ours, hands down, and that we are ready to challenge the #3 spot.

Then we can slowing expand the rotation so we can get to the half way point with a consistent 10 man rotation and with JJ lodging 35/37 minutes, sacrificing, if necessary a win here and there in order to gain at the end.

If we manage to come out of the 3 game west trip 4-1 with JJ playing an average of 39 minutes we should be happy instead of complaining about the rotation.

vava74

October 29th, 2009
6:38 am

Also, I think that JJ was fundamental on the floor to crank up the defense and slow down Granger.

Did anyone really want to see Crawford and Teague on the floor with the game on the line?

Or was it more important to get us the 1-0 start we all wished for?

Indiana is clearly a sub-par ball club and our defense was awful for most of the game and apart from Horford, our rebounding effort pathetic.

This was not a good omen since this was exactly the type of sloppy play that made us lose like with did with Orlando. The difference was the opponents’ quality.

Samuel

October 29th, 2009
6:43 am

To hel_ with minutes. “Just win Baby”.

some sense

October 29th, 2009
7:19 am

Why no box score???

roan st

October 29th, 2009
8:38 am

Woody only has a one year deal. He will use this bench or be gone at seasons end. I don’t think Sund wants to see his offseason work go to waste.

I know the Hawks won the game last night but its disturbing to me that our opponent had to turn it over 25 times in order for us to do so. What happens last night if the pacers take better care of the ball?

roan st

October 29th, 2009
8:38 am

Woody only has a one year deal. He will use this bench or be gone at seasons end. I don’t think Sund wants to see his offseason work go to waste.

I know the Hawks won the game last night but its disturbing to me that our opponent had to turn it over 25 times in order for us to do so. What happens last night if the pacers take better care of the ball?

GeeMack

October 29th, 2009
8:41 am

Nice start to the season. We need to improve defensively. This was not a top tier team and they scored 109 points . We should be one of the best defensive teams in the league this year. That’s what’s gone keep us in front of Washinton and Miami.

O'Brien

October 29th, 2009
8:47 am

Although I didnt like the way minutes were dispersed (39:23 for Joe), it is only game 1. However, against the Wizards on Friday, and then a West Coast Trip after that, I hope Woody does a better job of resting Joe on Friday night.

And the bench needs to get the minutes at home to get comfortable for when they go on the road. Kenny Smith always says, bench players look real good when they play at home. Crawford needs the minutes these first 2 games to get a rhythm going.

A Couple rookie debuts last night. Ty Lawson had 17pts in 26 minutes, and DeJuan Blair had 14pts, 11 rebs. This is going to be a great NBA season.

JeJe

October 29th, 2009
8:53 am

Just because the bench didn’t keep the lead, that doesn’t mean MARVIN has to play huge minutes in the 4th. Keep Crawford in and utilize a major scoring option — Not Marvin

Dekaturkingz

October 29th, 2009
9:06 am

Nookah

October 29th, 2009
9:08 am

Nice start. I’ll take 1-0 anyday. I a’int complainin’. As someone mentioned earlier, we can’t judge Woody off 1 game. Although I know humans are basically creatures of habit. Perhaps if we had put away Indiana earlier, JJ would have sat some more. But those are the shakes and we have to give Indiana some credit. I know Woody wanted to have a winning start on the home floor and don’t be mistaken he will do everything to go 2-0 vs. the Wiz. So if he has to play JJ 40+ minutes (God forbid), vs. them he will.

I am not worried about Teague. Young fella will adjust as time goes by. I can well imagine he was a little nervous last night. He will soon be all right. I hope this is the Horford we will be seeing all season and if so, watch out Eastern Conference, you in big trouble!!! Marvin had a nice solid game. That jumper is looking decent to start the season.

My hope however, is that we step up the defensive game because that will certainly contribute to less minutes for JJ as we will be forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them. Lokking forward to the Wiz and then we’ll see how we perform on the road. Oh I would be remiss if I did not mention Josh Smith, great game and he had 8 assists!!! That augers well for the future!!!

Go Hawks!!!

Mike N.

October 29th, 2009
9:09 am

Woody will always have Marvin in during crunch time. He was a #2 pick and Woody was part of that selection…he is going to make sure he gives him every opportunity to shine. Marvin looked just liked last season…can’t take the ball strong to the hoop, standing around on offense and only 8 shot attempts. With his jump shot and ability to draw fouls you can not have 8 shot attempts in 32 minutes…especially when the guy you are guarding scorches you. I am a Marvin supporter and am waiting for it to happen but maybe it just never will. He should be an 18 point scorer…I will give it the first 10 games before completely writing him off as a serious threat to opponents.

tidog

October 29th, 2009
9:11 am

Here we go again. Too many minutes for the starters. Take a look at Popovich and the way he divided players minutes last night. 9 to 10 players playing 20 plus minutes. No one played over 30 mins. C’mon coach get this thing right at the onset of the season.

G-Money

October 29th, 2009
9:40 am

The first objective in any sporting event is to win. You do not disperse minutes because it appears fashionable. Minutes are earned in practices and actual games. The Hawks have 81 remaining games, so individuals have opportunities to earn minutes. Every team in the league plays its stars an inordinate amount of minutes, especially in close games. Had we seen bench development, and a more equal disbursement of minutes accompanied by a loss, then everyone would be questioning Woodson’s substitution patterns. We need to give this team some actual games before we make presumptions for the entire year.

bigdave

October 29th, 2009
9:52 am

“If Johnson’s confidence in his teammates wasn’t sky-high before Wednesday’s game it is now.”

i hope it is… there were possessions last night where Joe didnt touch or ask for the ball and when scored. he watched Josh work, Al work, and for a moment there Marvin became aggressive. though i think they got away from him while he was the hot man…

MAD-DONNA

October 29th, 2009
10:14 am

Glad for the win, but I don’t recall seeing any designed plays.

MBZ

October 29th, 2009
10:16 am

Woodson has said that he wants Crawford to lead the league in points off the bench. My fear is that we will see a lot of iso-crawford instead of moving the ball and having people come off screens. Our second unit is built for run and gun. Both crawford and teague’s first priority on offense should be getting to the rim and getting the other team in foul trouble. Teams cant match up with their quickness. We’ll see how they adjust.

JM

October 29th, 2009
10:25 am

Only the first game but if Smoove and Big Al can work like this all season, Hawks will do very well. Could have seen a little more Crawford though, especially the line up with JJ at the 3.

Did anyone notice Josh lead that break by pointing JJ to pass to Bibby instead, then Bibby hit Josh. Great play.

MAD-DONNA

October 29th, 2009
10:42 am

I will always hope that the Hawks do well, but I will be glad to see Woodson go! He has absolutely no managerial skills!

theZaZaguy

October 29th, 2009
10:46 am

Counting minutes is over-rated. It’s also intensity of the minutes. Joe really didn’t seem tired at all. In the first half, they were cruising on defense and Joe pretty much let Al and Josh take over down low. Marvin also took most of his shots in the first half. Joe was well rested to turn it up a notch in the end because walking up and down the court and passing the ball a few times really isn’t that tiring.

richbrave

October 29th, 2009
10:48 am

Finally saw the stat line for the MAVS/WIZ game. First game blues as to shooting on both sides except for FOYE and BLATCHE (both 8-14). WIZ rebounded better (54-48), dimes better (19-16), many more fouls (29-20). Free throws excellent both ways. Three point shots horrendous on both sides, but MILLER was 2-3 and dropped them when it counted. ARENAS got most of his points (29) at the rim and the foul line, but make no mistake, he’s back. Points-wise same with FOYE. Drive into the middle and shoot a ten-fifteen footer, although he made one with a foot on the line and was 1-3 beyond three. PERIMETER DEFENSE will win this game for the HAWKS. If the WIZ can breakdown the outside defense, and they drive or shoot inside, the HAWKS are going to have to work to win. Frustrate FLIP’s Plan A, and this game’s a W for the home team because the ‘ZARDS haven’t practiced enough without JAMISON to have a solid Plan B yet.

doc

October 29th, 2009
10:48 am

ho-hum, it was the pacers. see what we got at the ten game mark.

richbrave

October 29th, 2009
11:07 am

hey doc:

Ready for friday night?

Melvin

October 29th, 2009
11:19 am

doc,

you are short on words this morning. i was expecting your report on the game last nite from the luxury seats.

ant banks

October 29th, 2009
11:21 am

DAM FOLKS!! IT’S JUS’ THE FIRST GAME!! DID YOU REALLY EXPECT WOODY TO PLAY HIS STARTERS WHO HAVE BAILED HIM OUT FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS TO ONLY PLAY 32 OR FEWER MINUTES??

I CAN SEE IF WE ARE IN FEBRUARY. GIVE HIM A BREAK!! I THOUGHT THAT HE GAVE THE BENCH A DECENT AMOUNT OF TIME TO SEE HOW THEY REACTED.

ant banks

October 29th, 2009
11:25 am

DOC,

i am wit’ you. these same people will be blastin’ them if we go 2-8.

Rufus1

October 29th, 2009
11:46 am

Cleveland FANS

They are about to jump off a bidge…HA

If Al and Josh play this well all year we will ATLEAST WIN THE 3RD SEED. We are deep, atheletic and getting BETTER.

DW

October 29th, 2009
11:48 am

Only one game, but… did we get Jamal only to play him 10 minutes? Seemed a little light to me. He DID have some foul trouble, but who cares? Use him up.

newkid

October 29th, 2009
12:14 pm

richbrave, saw your Wizards Tuesday night; very impressed. If health doesn’t become an issue (see Jamison), you may have reason to gloat come the 2nd half. Foye, Miller, and Oberto appear to be quite good additions. Agent 0, for at least one game, looks to be up to his old standard; that’s trouble for many of the league’s guards. Looking forward to Hawks vs Wizards battles this campaign.

richbrave

October 29th, 2009
12:17 pm

newkid:

Me too. WIZARDS are my home=team, but HAWKS are a great acquired taste. Post you up after the game friday night. LATER.

Ken Strickland

October 29th, 2009
12:21 pm

I’m not going to complain about the mins each player got. It’s foolish to expect Woodson, or any HC, to coach a perfect gm, especially the 1st gm of the season. Woodson played 10 players last night a minimum of 10MPG and got excellent overall production from them all. I saw what I wanted to see and that was improvement from both he and his OFF. What I’m waiting to see now is if we’ll build upon what we did last night, or revert back to what used to be as soon as we hit a rough patch, like our upcoming West coast road trip.

When we have excellent player and ball movement, like we had last night, it makes it much easier for Horford and Smoove to duplicate last nights performance. Also, we saw that being what some consider undersized didn’t prevent Horford from handing the Pacers 7′2″ 278lb RHibbet and 6′11″ 250lb JFoster their lunch.