Sorry this is a little late. I wanted to get out of the arena media work room so the poor gents who have to wait on me to leave so they can lock up could get home a little earlier than normal, and then once I got home, I was futzing around a little bit.
Anyway, I confess I don’t have a ton to offer you. We found out about the Atlanta Spirit settlement right after the first quarter, and I spent much of the rest of the game helping out on a story about that, so I didn’t get to watch much of the game itself. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m asking you to feel sorry for me because I’m not. Just explainin’ is all. It sounds like it was actually a pretty impressive second half.
Anyway, a brief thought on the settlement. I saw some entries on the blog about how this might affect the team. My guess is not much. One point that Bruce Levenson made is that he’s never had a player or coach or any Hawks or Thrashers staff member ask about how the lawsuit was going. It’s not like it was hanging over anyone’s heads, except for those directly involved, I presume.
It’s worth noting that to buy Steve Belkin out, of course, the ownership group had to give him money to go away, so presumably the shoe box with all the cash in it just got lighter. It’s conceivable that with the settlement out of the way, the Spirit group will be better able to attract investors, which they need. However, I think you’ll agree that this doesn’t likely strike most as a terrific investment. Both teams are having trouble drawing despite both performing fairly well.
I guess this would strike the more bold as a great time to invest in that the Thrashers certainly seem like they’re on the way up and the Hawks figure to be competitive for the near term. But, then, there’s a pretty long history of people not buying tickets that you kind of have to get around.
Anyway, on to the game.
Team was very flat to start. Larry Drew said he’d told the team at shootaround and then before the game to be wary of coming out slow. 1) They’d just beaten Orlando. 2) They were at home. 3) Cleveland is very easy to look past. 4) It’s almost Christmas.
Despite all that – or maybe because of it – they were still not into it at all. It picked up a lot in the second quarter, I thought, and then Drew said he talked to the team at the half, and that’s when the game changed.
Obviously, Joe Johnson’s best game since coming back from surgery. He said it was one of his best games of the season, saying he hasn’t felt in rhythm much this season. Drew said he called a lot of plays for him and that Johnson was playing with confidence. I haven’t seen a ton of games, but I can’t recall one in which Johnson had such a height advantage over the guy guarding him.
Didn’t get to talk to Marvin Williams afterwards, but a great game, evidently. Perhaps the not starting really did get under his skin. I’ll say this — he invariably is in a good mood and has a good attitude so I was a little surprised at how much not starting Monday bothered him. If that was the bee in his bonnet tonight, maybe it’s a stick that Larry Drew can use with him. As for how often he’d go with Jason Collins at 5, I’m not sure, but I imagine it’d be every time they play someone with a dominant center.
Some Drew quotes:
“We tried to exploit some mismatches that we thought were to our advantage. That’s the way we have to play. That’s the way we want to play. As I told the guys, we have enough play sets that we can get into different things where teams can’t lock in on us. Certainly, when you see what you think is an advantageous matchup you’ve got to go right to it and that’s what we did tonight.”
On the second half:
“Didn’t do a whole lot as far as any type of adjustments, but what we did was I thought we did thing sa lot harder we were fighting through screens a lot harder. We were making a conscious effort of boxing out. We were pushing the basketball off the boards and when we got out there and started running, that’s when we were at our best.”
From reading the game thread — I really wish I’d heard “dagger in the coffin.” Thanks for sharing that.