It’s only November. This is just one of 82, as they say.
Except this date with Orlando is the first since you-know-what, and I don’t think anyone believes the ramifications won’t go beyond one game in the standings.
Hawks tri-captain Al rejected the notion they need this one for their psyche. Credibility is another matter.
“I don’t even think it has to do so much with confidence, but I think if we want to be considered as a contender to win the division, this is the step we have to take,” he said.
There’s been no indication that the Hawks have the quality of depth to compete with the Magic. Orlando is without Jameer Nelson, and that’s a major break for Atlanta. VC will play with a bum hip.
But the Hawks left Marvin and Mo back in Atlanta. L.D. says Marvin could miss up to two weeks: “After the first week, it’s about how much he can tolerate the pain.”
L.D. is going with Twin as the starting center again. Orlando reporters, who apparently examined Atlanta’s roster, asked L.D. if the Hawks really have the personnel to allow Al to move to power forward on more than a temporary basis.
“We’ve got some big pieces that can allow him to play some four,” he said. “That was a focus this summer was to bring in some more big bodies.”
When Al talked about the Hawks needing a bona fide center to be a true contender, obviously this is one of the matchups he was talking about. But it’s interesting that when the conversation with Al turned to Dwight’s impact on this series, he talked less about Dwight and more about Orlando’s shooters.
“In the past obviously he has hurt us, but more importantly their outside shooters have hurt us,” he said. “That is the challenge is to limit them. We can’t be giving them threes like that.”
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they just played a game in which they gave up all kinds of threes to the Suns. Or maybe it’s actually fortunate for them because L.D. had some fresh video to show them this morning detailing how their main issue was failing to match up in transition due to poor floor balance.
“When that shot goes up, I freeze the frame and I see that first guy not taking that first step,” he said.
By that, he means the guards. He wants them to help on the defensive glass but they “are not big offensive rebounders” so he doesn’t want them to think about helping on the offensive glass at all. If the threes or fours are caught on the perimeter and don’t have a chance for the board, he wants them to get back, too.
“All of that has been identified,” L.D. said. “Guys know what their jobs are.”
Take the jumper. Please
Dwight so far is taking and making more shots from beyond 10 feet. The goal is for him to diversify his offensive game, and maybe it works– L.D. said Dwight looks comfortable shooting from out there: “It just reminds you so much of Tim Duncan.”
Still, until Dwight starts making jumpers with the same consistency that he brings the thunder, L.D. picks door No. 2.
“Coaches are going to play the percentages,” he said. “I’d rather see him take a 12 foot jumper than to post up in the paint, because I know when he’s in the paint he’s almost unstoppable. At least when he shoots the jumper there’s a chance he will miss.”