As the Hawks take on the Celtics tonight, they will have swingman DeShawn Stevenson available. Coach Larry Drew did not use Stevenson against the Pistons last night in order to have his services tonight.
It will be a boost for the short-handed Hawks, who do not play Stevenson in back-to-back games due to the 13-year veteran’s ailing knees.
I asked Drew if Stevenson truly can’t play in back-to-back games. Friday night against the Pistons, the Hawks were without guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. They couldn’t buy a basket early on from anyone other than Al Horford or Josh Smith. The Hawks went 15 minutes, a full quarter plus, before another player scored. With their early trouble shooting from the outside, certainly they could have used Stevenson and his long-range shooting.
It turns out, according to Drew, the team needs clearance from the medical staff to use Stevenson two straight games.
“We are really just taking real precautionary measures with him,” Drew said. “We went into the season with our mind made up (not to play Stevenson in back-to-back-games). Now, it could change if the knees are feeling better but we have to get medical clearance in order to play him a few minutes one night and a few minutes the next night on a back-to-back.”
Drew said the situation was discussed before the season as a team and with Stevenson.
Stevenson was not in the locker room prior to the game but I will speak with him after the game to get his point of view on the situation.
In other news:
* Harris (sore left foot) and Morrow (right hip strain) are out versus the Celtics. Harris has missed the past 10 games with his injury and Morrow has missed the past five games. Center Johan Petro (stomach illness) is available. I spoke to Harris before the game. He said it is still painful to push off the foot. There is no timetable for his return, although he has been working out. “That remains to be seen,” he told me.
* There are no limitations on Smith, who played just 12 minutes in the second half against the Pistons after aggravating his strained right hip flexor.
* Drew will stay with the same starting lineup used in the past six games with Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Smith and Horford.
* On Saturday, Smith filmed a commercial as part of the NBA’s year-long BIG promotion. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have also been featured in similar commercials.
* According to Drew, the Teague-Rajon Rondo matchup will be key tonight.
“Jeff has to be in the attack mode all game long,” Drew said. “You can’t play passive against a guy like Rondo. If he does, that won’t get it done. He has to be very aggressive on both ends of the floor. He’s got to be relentless on both ends of the floor. The ball is going to be in Rondo’s hands a lot. He is going to get to the basket. He’s going to score some points. He’s going to get some assists. We need Jeff to do the same thing.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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