Hope those of you who celebrated had a joyful Christmas. I spent mine with my family, including my two nephews who are in that Lego-toy car phase, so it was a lot of fun watching them enjoy their presents.
Anyway, onto the Pacers. I am at home and not with the team, so don’t have a lot to offer. I’ll say this. This is the last respite the Hawks get for awhile. Starting with the home-and-home with Cleveland, the Hawks play 11 of their next 17 against teams over .500. Seven are away, and seven are against Boston-Cleveland-Orlando. And of those “Big Three” seven, all of them are back-to-backs. It’s some pretty tough sledding. Against Indiana, the Hawks had best gather their rosebuds while they may, as it were. (Hopefully I understood the poem correctly. I was an economics major, not English.)
One interesting thing from the article I wrote for Saturday’s paper, talking to Joe Johnson, Dominique Wilkins, Steve Holman and Peachtree Hoops blogger Drew Ditzel about the season, looking back and ahead – what stuck out to me was that the predictions for wins were between 50 and 55. That means that the expectation is that the Hawks will fall off their current .714 pace. Right now, they’re on pace for 58-59 wins. But to go, say, 53-29, that means the Hawks would have to go 33-21 the rest of the way, which is .611 ball. Not bad at all, obviously, but not as good as they’ve done so far.
Looking at the next stretch, you’d have to think if they get through the next 17 anywhere above .500, it would be a success. Interesting link about Hawks’ schedule thus far. According to the formulas, the Hawks ought to be 22-6.
So, Indiana. The Pacers are without Danny Granger (torn plantar fascia) and have lost four in a row. Like I said the other day, I think the Hawks win this one, though it may be tougher than you might otherwise expect. (Standard proviso: I am wrong a lot on a variety of things.)
Anyway, something to consider watching Hawks-Pacers. Indiana has “lost seven games in which they led or were tied in the fourth quarter, including each of the past three,” according to an article by Indianapolis Star Pacers writer Mike Wells. That includes losses to Boston Dec. 22, when the Pacers led by 15 at halftime, Orlando, San Antonio and Portland.
This is off the topic, but I asked Steve Holman, the Hawks’ radio guy, to name his all-decade team. It’ll be in the Sunday paper. In checking out the story, I came upon something I’d completely forgotten about. The Hawks drafted Pau Gasol in 2001 as part of a trade to get Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Our own Mark Bradley was, praising then-GM Pete Babcock, saying that, through the trade and other moves, “he has remade a roster that ranked with the league’s worst, turning into an assemblage – might as well say it – of playoff caliber.” I’m going to have to guess Mark was not alone in his opinion.
Follow me here, though. The Hawks also got Vancouver’s first-round pick in that trade, which they traded to Indiana (used on Jamaal Tinsley) for a future first-round pick. Two years later, the Hawks used the Pacers’ pick to get Boris Diaw. And, as you know, Diaw and two first-rounders later went to Phoenix for Joe Johnson. So, maybe it wasn’t all so bad. (Though, you are free to point out, I’m going to guess the trade didn’t exactly hinge on Boris Diaw being a part of the deal.) (Sorry to ramble. I often find the long-term effects of trades kind of interesting.)
Happy Saturday and Hawks watching.