To help us prepare for this afternoon’s early game against the Atlanta Hawks, we are fortunate to have Deborah Horton, poet, writer and managing editor of Hawks Highlights blog answer a few questions about her team. It is one of the best and most honest assessments I’ve read of the athletic and baffling Atlanta Hawks this season. It should be no surprise though, because her answers are consistent with her spot on and biting commentary at Hawks Highlights and work with ESPN.com and MLB.com. Pay her a visit and give her a shout out, especially since she gave us the keys to beating her fave team.
The Hawks have been wildly inconsistent since their 6-0 start. What changed or what problems were exposed in the following games and how are the Hawks going to remedy them?
The Hawks have 2 problems as I see it. One, they have no true center. Horford is not a true center, though he has been pressed into that role. Zaza off the bench just does not have the skill set to be a dominating NBA center. The Hawks should have made a trade to obtain a true center in the offseason, but decided to go with Horford, which is a mistake. Second, the Hawks bench, outside of Jamal Crawford is abysmal. Truly awful. Playing almost 50 minutes collectively most games and not scoring more than 10 on a regular basis. The bench has just not stepped it up so far this season. As for a remedy, I’m not sure there is one outside of an increased energy. The Hawks seemed wedded to the fact that they are going with what they have – despite their record.
Last year the Hawks suffered from isolation-mania and this season first year coach Larry Drew promised their would be much better ball movement. Has he fulfilled his promise?
Coach Drew’s motion offense has worked well, mostly. In most games, especially at the beginning of the season, the Hawks were moving the ball very well. Most of those games saw 5 and 6 Hawks in double figures per game. The ball movement was working. However, the last few games, they have had their starting 5 get very cold from the floor and then they start to push to try to make points and get away from the motion offense all together some games. When they use it, it definitely works. The problem is that losing causes people to revert to what they have always done.
What can we expect from the Hawks in terms of their offensive philosophies against the Knicks?
The Hawks must get back to the motion offense. They must get their starters in double figures. They need to get Jamal Crawford into the game earlier, even as early as the first quarter as they did the other night. However, if they come in lacking in energy as they have the last few games the Knicks can expect to win.
What can we expect defensively from the Hawks?
The Hawks have been doing very well on blocking shots and they have to keep after it. They need to concentrate on getting the offensive rebounds and putting those shots back. They have improved their turnover ratio and hopefully they can continue to hold this down against the Knicks and get some of their own as well.
What must the Knicks do to beat the Hawks?
If the Knicks can build a lead and keep the Hawks from implementing the motion offense causing them to revert to isolation, the Knicks can get enough of a lead to keep the Hawks at bay for most of the game. Also, the Hawks 3 point shooting has been abysmal so far this season, so if the Knicks push them outside the arc they have a great chance of keeping Hawks players from scoring.