Red alert! There’s a pretty good matchup on tap today. (And the Hawks, conveniently enough, are wearing red uniforms.)
The NBA South division leader faces the team that might, a year or two on, become to the Western Conference what the Hawks are to the East. Oklahoma City has thrown together a slew of good young players — Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, James Harden — in what might be described in Hawks-like fashion.
We’ll discuss that at greater length in a bit, but for now I’ll relate a little anecdote. The fire alarm went off in the back corridor of Philips Arena when Mike Woodson was holding his pregame briefing. Everyone was advised to exit the premises via a recorded message, which played for no more than 10 minutes. Naturally, nobody did.
Joe Johnson, being conscientious, did stick his head into Woodson’s office and say, “What should I do?” Woodson looked at him and laughed. “I’m not going anywhere,” the coach said. And I guess if you can survive 13-69, which was the Hawks’ record in Woodson’s first season, you can handle anything.
(Safety update: The alarm and the recording finally stopped sounding. We’re still here. Don’t know what happened, but it must not have been too bad.)
The Hawks, you won’t be surprised to learn, are feeling great. They’ve had a terrific first half of the season, and the Friday night buzzer win against Phoenix merely reinforces what we (and they) are coming to believe: That they”re every bit as good as their record. Said Woodson: “When we come to play, we can beat anybody.”
And they usually come to play. They’re 26-13. They’re on pace to win 55 games, which would be an eight-game upgrade over last season’s 47-35, which was in itself an 10-game upgrade over the 37-45 of 2007-2008. And that’s without changing a starter. (Mike Bibby was the last of this first five to arrive, and he got here in February 2008.)
I’ll be here all afternoon to comment and answer questions about the Hawks and whatever else you’d care to ask. If you missed yesterday’s little posting about Josh Smith as a possible All-Star, you might want to check that out. (Then again, you might not.) But I would advise you to screen this YouTube video for your personal enjoyment.
More required reading: Marc Stein of ESPN.com has the Hawks No. 4 in the NBA (and No. 2 in the East) in his latest power rankings.