Vivlamore filling in for tonight’s game against the Heat.
Here is your report from the morning shoot-around.
Josh Smith insists he is not playing with a chip on his shoulder.
However, in the past two games the forward has put up impressive numbers – despite again being snubbed from the NBA All-Star team
In wins over the Pacers and Magic, Smith is averaging 25.5 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and 2.5 steals. They are all above his season averages, especially his 15.9 points per game.
“I’ve just been playing,” Smith said Sunday morning before taking on the Heat in a nationally televised game. “I’ve been playing like this since the season started. It’s really not a chip on my shoulder. I’ve been blessed to be able to step in in Al [Horford’s] absence and just been playing some good basketball.”
Smith is averaging 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds in the 16 games since Horford was lost to a torn left pectoral muscle. The Hawks are 11-5 without Horford.
“I’ve always stated that he is a guy who can impact the game on both ends of the court, which he clearly did in our last game against Orlando,” coach Larry Drew said. Smith had 23 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime win over the Magic Friday.
* With the Heat in town, the million dollar question is how do you go about guarding LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Here is Drew’s take: “They lead the league in fast-break points so the first thing you have to do is get back on defense. How do you do that? That is going to be controlled by your shot selection and that you are not turning the basketball over. Secondly, obviously in a half-court game, you are taking about LeBron [James], you are talking about Wade, you are talking about Bosh. All three guys are very capable of having huge nights. You just set your defense where you don’t put yourself at a disadvantage. Going into a game like this, playing against a team like Miami, you have to play solid on both ends of the floor. You have to do a good job of taking away easy transition points but on the other hand you have to do a good job of moving the basketball.”
* Horford attended the team’s morning shoot-around Sunday as a spectator. The center had his left arm in a sling.