Some Hawks talk from around the Web:
– Chris Perkins, my boy from back in Miami, is the former Heat beat writer for the Palm Beach Post (we both got whacked from our gigs last year during cutbacks). Writing for Hoopsworld, Perk says the Hawks are a year away from being real championship contenders assuming they bring back Joe Johnson and Woody:
“Atlanta has beaten Boston three times this season. The Hawks (24-13) have the fourth-best record in the East. But does that mean Atlanta beat any of the top three teams – Boston, Cleveland or Orlando – in the East in a best-of-seven series?
Maybe. What it really might mean is the Hawks need to stay together for another year, when they’ll likely be atop the East and have a legitimate shot at the NBA championship.”
– He’s not writing about the Hawks, but Tim Povtak at Fanhouse uses them as a contrast to the old and injured Celtics:
“The Celtics will have trouble getting past the second round this spring. They were lifeless at home when they lost badly to Chicago Thursday night on national television. They already lost three times this season to the much younger and much more athletic Atlanta Hawks, exposing all kinds of holes. The Celtics are more than vulnerable. . . .
“As the season progresses, it’s likely that the Cavs will pull away and both the Magic, who also are struggling now, and the Hawks, will pass the Celtics in the Eastern Conference, which means no home court advantage beyond the first round.”
– Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen places Josh Smith and Al Horford among his “5 Surprising All-Stars.” He’s got some thoughtful quotes from Smoove and good stuff from an unnamed scout:
“‘That kid has grown up immensely, and I’m stunned. I will tell you I hated him — his body language, his physical displays and immaturity on the floor. But this year I’ve seen him sit on the bench and not get playing time in the fourth quarter because the lineup is doing well, and they call him in to get the tip to win the game. And he’s not mad. In fact, he’s up like he’s their best cheerleader. I don’t know what award he should get, but he should get something for making the most emotional growth.’”
– The AJC’s Mark Bradley also weighs in on Smith’s maturation:
“We all kept wondering what Smith would be when/if he ever grew up. We’re getting our answer. Twenty points and 15 rebounds against Phoenix on Friday, when his fourth-quarter work kept the Hawks close enough for Jamal Crawford to win it at the horn. Fifteen points and 11 rebounds against the Celtics a week before that. Twenty-two points, nine rebounds, six blocks and seven assists in the November blowout of Denver.
He has made five turnovers in a game only once this season. He hasn’t fouled out. (OK, so there was one ejection.) He has hoisted only three three-point shots in 39 games. (He tried 87 last season, 152 in 2006-2007.) Put simply, we no longer cringe when Smith gets the ball. He knows what not to do.”
– George Kiel III at nicekicks.com notes that J.J. was sporting Air Jordan 12 Retros with a new color scheme vs. Phoenix:
“Last night, Atlanta Hawks star Joe Johnson and Charlotte Bobcats teammates Gerald Wallace and DJ Augustin were seen in a white and navy blue colored Air Jordan 12 Retro. It also features a hint of red in between the white and navy blue sections and in the form of the Jumpman logo on the tongue. There is no word yet on when this shoe will release.”