Miami–The Hawks survived to beat the hapless Kings but to do it needed big minutes from Al, Bibby, J.J and Smoove.
Now they face the Heat, who are without Bosh tonight but get back LeBron. The Hawks have been suspect defending in transition lately anyway and now I’m imagining D-Wade and LeBron galloping in the open court against their tired legs.
About 90 minutes before tip, L.D. said he wasn’t sure which starting lineup he would use. He was waiting on Erik Spoelstra to reveal his starters.
“There’s going to be a wait-out,” Drew joked.
Atlanta’s pregame board had Bibby matched on Arroyo, J.J. on Wade, Smoove on LeBron, Al on Juwan Howard and Twin on Ilgauskas.
Whichever way he goes, the Hawks will be looking for a bench boost. Jamal is a pretty good bet to give them something but the other guys are a mystery.
“I wasn’t anticipating playing my starters the amount of minutes I played [them] last night,” L.D. said. “I’m going to need production from my bench tonight. Coming in on a back-to-back, playing a team like Miami it’s going to take a total team effort.”
Damien Wilkins is glad to still be with the Hawks on another 10-day. He knows his time could be limited and admits it’s hard not to think about that because he so badly wants to stay with Uncle ‘Nique’s franchise.
“If this was a team where I wasn’t happy here, it wouldn’t be on my mind as much and not bother me,” he said. “It’s tough because this is where I want to be.”
Last time Atlanta was here Wilkins did a good job harassing LeBron. He plans to use the same strategy this time: Get physical and cut off his space. And he wants redemption.
“I felt so bad about letting Tyreke get that layup last night,” Wilkins said. “I couldn’t even sleep. I was pissed about that. Luckily, we got that win. But tonight is a totally different animal. I am up for the challenge. He is a great player. I love watching him play and IU love playing against him.”
“Limit” was the theme for the Hawks’ pregame board. On defense the Hawks want to limit transition scores, offensive rebounds, 3-pointers foul shots and the crowd. On offense they want to limit turnovers, bad shots, missed screens and standing. . . .
The Heat has been slipping defensively, too. Spoelstra: “We have to get back to our identity and do it consistently. It has been a long time since we’ve held a team to under 90 points and under 40 percent [shooting]. We were doing that semi-regularly in the month of December.”