Cleveland–Larry Drew has favored a fourth-quarter lineup with Bibby at point guard, Jamal at shooting guard and J.J. at small forward along with Josh and Al. (The exception was the opener at Memphis, when the Hawks had a makehshift crew finish the blowout victory).
A lineup that includes both Bibby and Jamal can’t be considered one with a focus on defense and rebounding, two areas where L.D. says he’s looking for more from the Hawks. And when I asked L.D. why he favors that lineup late in games, he didn’t talk about defense.
“Jamal is a shot maker,” he said. “Bibby is a shot maker. You know teams are going to double-team Joe so you’ve got to have shot makers out there with him.”
But can the Hawks get enough defense and rebounding out of that group?
“In the scheme of things, I think we can,” L.D. said. “With Joe playing some three, I’m confident with his D against threes. Jamal at the two, I am trying to get him to be more conscience about rebounding. Not necessarily going in there and jumping over guys to get rebounds. I want him to be conscience about getting his body on guys. Our ‘bigs’ know what their jobs are. The defense doesn’t have to come from individuals shutting people down, it has to be a team thing.”
Last season the Bibby-Jamal-Joe-Smoove-Al lineup was the second-most used alignment by Atlanta. It led the team in simple plus-minus. The lineup was second to the starting unit in adjusted plus-minus but significantly less efficient defensively and with a lower defensive rebounding rate.
L.D. repeated a constant theme before the game tonight when he said: “We can’t try to be a team that just outscores people. The teams that re good teams do it with defense. If we want to be mentioned in the same breath as some of these teams then we have to defend better, rebound better.”
The Bibby-Jamal-Joe alignment certainly can score with the best of them. But if L.D. sticks with that lineup to finish game, it’s another example of how he must get more from some players who haven’t proven they are suited to do what he’s asking.
Hawks radio voice Steve Holman will call his 1,800th consecutive game for the team tonight (97.9 FM). He’s worked every game for the past 25 years but considers his streak to have started when John Sterling left to do Yankees broadcasts in March of 1989 and Holman started doing Hawks games solo.
“I’m proud of it,” Holman said. “I’ve been able to stay healthy and they’ve let me continue to do it all these years. I look forward to every game like it’s my first night, and I really mean that.” . . ,
Teague had some kind of eye infection today that caused redness and itching. He doesn’t know what it was but he got some drops before the game and said it immediately felt better. . . .
Antawn Jamison (knee) is out for the Cavs. . . .
New Cavs coach Byron Scott on the learning curve for his team: “There are only a handful of guys who understand what we are doing on the offensive end.” Scott said he views reserve “Boobie” Gibson, who leads the Cavs in scoring, as “a little bit like Crawford with Atlanta.”