By Jerel Marshall
It’s easy for spectators to place a higher level of importance on preseason games then they deserve. However, with that being said, Atlanta’s win over Miami was a pretty big deal for the franchise.
True, it was just a preseason game so the Hawks didn’t gain an advantage over any of their Eastern Conference foes.
Also worth noting is the fact Dwyane Wade did not play so this game is not a fair indication of how the Hawks would fair against the full brunt of the Big 3.
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However, the Hawks did manage to down LeBron James and a talented Heat team in an atmosphere that rivals the average regular season game.
The Hawks offense looked a little rough early on as they resorted to their infamous Joe Johnson isolations but Johnson scored the ball with ease the first half. When the Heat attempted to put more pressure on Johnson, the Hawks began to move the ball with much more efficiency.
Josh Smith showed he can play hard despite being emotionally charged. In the past he has been knocked for disappearing on the court after having a bad call go against him but this was not the case against Miami. After being issued a technical foul late in the third quarter, Smith stole a James Jones pass and sprinted down the court for a nasty fast break finish. This is the type of leadership the Hawks will be looking for from their newly appointed captain.
Bibby showed exactly why he has been a starter for so long in the NBA by knocking down a three, a long two and a couple of free throws late in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks seal the game.
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There has been a lot of debate about whether Jeff Teague or Bibby should get the starting point guard job. However, perhaps a better question is who will be on the court when the game is on the line.
The Atlanta fans made their presence felt, especially whenever the ball was in James’ hands. When he pulled down the first of his nine rebounds, Philip’s Arena was filled with a chorus of boos that had to make James feel as if he were back in Cleveland.
Which raises an interesting question: Were the Atlanta fans, who have a historically bad rep for supporting professional teams, pumped to cheer on their Hawks or did a bunch of people show up to the game to voice their hate of James? The former would be a great sign for the Hawks but as of now I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Last night’s preseason game was also big because it was the closest head coach Larry Drew has gotten to playing his regular season rotation.
“We are just trying to get into some type of rhythm,” Drew said in a post-game press conference.
The Hawks seemed to have found their groove and gave us the first true display of what to expect in the regular season.