Secaucus, N.J.–Joe Johnson is out tonight. He’s not going to play tomorrow at Toronto, either, and Woody said J.J.’s status is up in the air for Friday’s game against Charlotte at Philips Arena.
The Hawks say J.J. has a strained Achilles’ tendon.
“He’s day-to-day,” Woody said.
Bibby’s back is better and he will start tonight. In a surprise move, Woody plans to go with My Blog People MVP Jeff Teague at point guard and Bibby at shooting guard instead of using Mo Evans to replace Johnson.
It’s Teague’s first start.
“We’ll give it a shot,” Woody said, adding with a smile: “I can always sub early.”
“(Teague) has played with different combinations,” Woody said. “This is no different. He will do what he does best: push the ball, defend, get people involved.”
Teague, low key as always, said he’s ready.
“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, and I’ve usually started,” he said. “It will be the same as coming off the bench.”
Woody said he made the move because he wants Teague’s quickness against Nets guard Devin Harris.
Harris might miss the game due to illness but presumably Woody would stick with Teague either way.
(Edit: Harris is out with an upper respiratory infection, but Woody said he probably would stick with Teague: “We drafted him for the future, and I’ve got to develop him if I’m here as coach (next year). I think he’s gotten a little bit better but we haven’t seen enough of him. I think I’ll still keep him in there.”)
“He’s quick, so you have to try to keep him out of the lane,” Teague said of Harris. “He can score; we all know that. I’m not going to say I’m going to lock him down or anything like that. I just want to try and contain him.”
The Hawks will be much smaller in the backcourt without J.J. (6-7). Teague and Bibby are both listed at 6-2. Harris is 6-3 and Nets shooting guard Courtney Lee (a ‘Naptown Pike High product like Teague) is 6-5. The Nets can also bring 6-7 Chris Douglas-Roberts and 6-6 rookie Terrence Williams (Go Cards) off the bench at guard.
Teague, the 19th overall pick out of Wake Forest, said he’s matured through the season.
“Most definitely,” he said. “At the beginning of the season I wasn’t comfortable. I was nervous and didn’t want to mess up. I’ve gotten more familiar with the coaches and they’ve gotten more familiar with me.”
I’m not sure if anyone around here has noticed, but Teague’s minutes have been up and down this season.
“Give the rook’ (credit),” Woody said, referring to Teague by the name he almost always uses to address him. “He played well in the exhibitions. It’s not like we forgot about him. We’ll give him a shot.”
– Does this game worry you at all? Hawks TV voice Bob Rathbun notes that strange things happen when the Hawks play here. They’ve lost their last five at the arena with its latest name as the Izod Center but that still is dark, dank and–after the circus just left town–stank.
“Interesting venue,” Teague said. “Older than I expected.”
The Nets are set to move to the Prudential Center in Newark next season. Coincidentally, Woody played for the Nets when they opened what was then called Brendan Byrne Arena in 1981. Larry Brown was the coach.
This Nets team is worst than any of those that beat the Hawks the last five times here. They are threatening to be historically bad, on pace to tie the 1972-73 76ers for worst record in league history at 9-73.
Obviously the Nets want no part of that, so maybe that helps to explain why they showed signs of life in recent road losses to Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Houston.
“They are playing harder,” Woody said. “In their last outing (at Houston) they were very competitive and I don’t expect anything different tonight.”
Clearly missing Harris would be a major blow to New Jersey’s efforts to beat the Hawks. But, as Rathbun says, strange things happen to the Hawks in Jersey.
– Talk amongst yourselves, Hawks fans.