The doctors have given Josh Smith clearance to play after he sprained his right knee on Monday. He said he believes the knee is feeling about as good as it’s going to get. He practiced with a knee brace today and said it felt OK.
So it seems the next hurdle for Smith is a mental one.
“It’s cool,” he said. “Obviously I am thinking about it and being more cautious. I’ve got to play with a clear mind. If I think about re-injuring it I probably will.”
The brace has metal frame with hinges and a cloth covering. It isn’t too bulky, though Smith joked: “Looks robotic.”
Smith said he was able to make cuts during today’s light practice session.
“It feels good,” Smith said. “I’ve just got to get [accustomed] to that brace. For the most part it felt all right. I think at this point it is going to be what it is. I’m just going to get treatment as much as possible and try to go tomorrow.”
Smith’s return would help boost Atlanta’s interior defense, which was lacking in their 111-104 loss to the Thunder last night. The Hawks allowed 54 points in the paint.
“He’s definitely an anchor back there,” Larry Drew said of Smith. “But we are also going to have to have a total commitment from everybody else to playing with more of a physicality. I thought the Oklahoma team out-toughed us. They ‘grinded’ it out down low, they got after a lot of loose balls, they got some offensive rebounds, they drove it. We are going to have to more of a presence in that paint area, with or without Smoove.”
The soft interior D was a focus of Atlanta’s video session today. Drew said Atlanta’s troubles containing Russell Westbrook and James Harden on the perimeter were just part of the problem.
“We allowed [penetration] and they got all the way to the rim,” he said. “There was no real resistance once they broke us down. We didn’t give any hard fouls, we didn’t step up and take charges. We just had no real physical presence after we were broken down.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat