Back in October, John Hollinger of ESPN.com picked the Hawks to finish 31-51, 13th among the 15 teams in the NBA East. On Sunday he sat in Philips Arena and watched them beat the Miami Heat to advance to Round 2, and it’s safe to say he was duly impressed.
Focusing on Joe Johnson’s breakout game, Hollinger also wrote: “If Atlanta’s All-Star could match Miami’s All-Star [Dwyane Wade} shot for shot, as he finally did Sunday, there was no way Wade's supporting cast could lift him past Johnson's." (Oddly enough, a guy I know had been saying much the same thing. Not that I'm ever right. Though I was, kind of, this time.)
For the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman wrote essentially the same thing and played heavily off Wade's assertion that the Hawks have five guys who can make a play. And five tends to beat one.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
On SI.com, Bill Trocchi called Zaza Pachulia’s dive-on-the-floor offensive rebound that yielded a Flip Murray trey the turning point of Game 7, and I wouldn’t argue that it was huge. (It was cited on the ol’ live blog.) But I’d go with Mike Woodson’s unbelievably prescient give-a-foul-and-insert-Mario-West tack at the end of the first quarter as the moment the game changed.
On CBSsports.com, Ken Berger made a comparison I must admit had escaped me (and, truth to tell, escapes me still): Josh Smith is a lot like Ron Artest. And the next time J-Smoove incites a riot, Berger will be able to say, “See what I meant?” Until then, I’d say Josh is more a young Dominique Wilkins — can’t shoot as well but defends better. (Sorry, ‘Nique.)
On NBA.com, esteemed former colleague Matt Winkeljohn lauded the Hawks’ big men — Zaza, Josh and Al Horford. But the smaller men — Johnson, Murray and Mike Bibby — weren’t bad, either.
For the New York Times, Howard Beck referred to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra being inspired by boxer Manny Pacquiao’s defeat of Ricky Hatton. Had Spoelstra been any more inspired, his team might actually have given the Hawks a game Sunday.
For USA Today, Ray Glier wrote in detail about Woodson, Johnson and the Hawks’ struggles as a franchise. Wait a second — you mean this team wasn’t always this good?
A poll on ESPN.com is less effusive about the Hawks’ chances against Cleveland that a similar survey on AJC.com. As of 9 a.m. Monday, 66 percent of nearly 6,000 ESPN respondents believed the Hawks would win one game at most. Only seven percent picked them to win the series. But it should be noted that roughly 65 percent of voters in another ESPN poll thought they’d lose Game 7 to Miami. So there.
In these difficult economic times, a guy has to wring get every last cent out of the $39.95 he spent to become an ESPN.com Insider. And I’m trying. In his 2010 mock draft (registration required), Todd McShay has Sam Bradford of Oklahoma going No. 1 overall, which you’d expect, and Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins going No. 12, which you might not.
McShay does, however, damage his credibility by listing two Kentucky players — cornerback Trevard Lindley and linebacker Micah Johnson — as Round 1 picks. As a UK grad, I can reliably inform you that the school doesn’t even play football.
As for the Falcons: McShay has them drafting 29th, which would indicate he foresees a big season, and taking another defensive tackle. No, not Terrence Cody of Alabama — McShay has him going one pick later to Pittsburgh — but Mark Herzlich of Boston College.
Who’s Mark Herzlich? Well, faithful reader Reno 911 sent along two YouTube links: The first is a highlight reel, and it’s impressive. The second has something to do with nuns (actually men dressed as nuns) shoveling snow on the BC campus while Herzlich chats up a coed. It’s posted below, and I must confess I don’t get it. And I just became a Catholic.
Jonathan Dwyer plays B-back for Georgia Tech. He’s a good player. Indeed, according to Russ Lande of Sporting News Today, he’ll be the third-best NFL prospect among juniors next season, behind only Bradford and safety Eric Berry of Tennessee.
If you care about this sort of thing — and a slew of you do, I know — you’ve got this memorized already. But for the less passionate, I’m about to channel Michael Carvell and pass along Rivals.com’s list of the top 100 recruits for 2010.
Five are from Georgia, and they are: Markeith Ambles, receiver, Henry County (No. 23 overall); Alec Ogletree, defensive back, Newnan (No. 31); Mack Brown, running back, Martin Luther King (No. 43); Garrison Smith, defensive end, Douglass (No. 74), and Da’Rick Rogers, athlete, Calhoun. All are listed as undecided.