Saturday, October 24, 2009

Future Flashbacks

As THHB waded back into the Atlanta Hawks pool, less than a week before they start counting "wins" and "losses", we cynically thought we knew what to expect---more of the same from last year.

Sure, we don't officially come out with our Season Preview (patent pending) until Monday, but suffice to say we have said all offseason that the Hawks did little to change their approach to the league and their team in order to move up in the ranks of the NBA.

Now, we understand that the preseason is much like ping pong games as a kid---nobody ever really keeps track of those records (123-67 lifetime over here--but we feel our cousin was using a loaded paddle for half of those losses). Still, we gathered to survey what had become of the young boys throughout a successful preseason docket--and how they would look against the defending Eastern Conference Champs, the Orlando Magic.

R&B mixing it with the hip hop swing beat
Champagne in my hand, it wont be long till I'm gone
It's just the same old song

We'll hold some judgment until the season actually starts, but with the Magic playing for reals, and even w/o Rashard Lewis, they clamped down hard on the Hawks 123-86 Friday night in Orlando, reminiscent of similar defeats levied to Atlanta during the previous season.

The beating was one part luck---the Hawks had some open looks, but couldn't hit, while the Magic (including Stuff the Magic Dragon, it seemed) hit everything, shooting (61) percent for the night while the Birds could only muster (38) (actually .375, but we're feeling generous--whoohoo!)--and the other two parts were assault with many deadly weapons.

The Magic took to aggressive play early on, led by Ryan Anderson (who Hubie Brown affectionately called Kevin for a while before Mike Breen "casually" mentioned Anderson's actual name in a different conversation to give Hubie a subtle hint.), who scored (14) of his (18) in the game's first (7) minutes on a coffee-house blend of three point shots and aggressive (and effective) drives to the basket.

We didn't look to review the deal that brought Anderson to Orlando with Hawk Hater Vince Carter, but we're pretty sure that the fans of New Jersey know they got robbed. And by robbed, we mean smoked. But hey, we hear Tony Battie is a fine fellow.

Carter did his usual Hawk Stomp, including a nifty double clutch jam in the first half, when the Magic scored (62) points. He joined Dwight Howard in the "They Can't Guard Me" Club, combining to go 18-20 with the big fella. Howard enjoyed the usual non-matchup with Horford, who by now looks like Tiny Archibald to Howard's monolithic frame (μονόλιθος monolithos to our Josh Childress fans). But the fun really began when Randolph Morris matched up with Howard.

(Sidenote: We remember vividly the nationally televised high school game between Howard and Morris at Georgia Tech in early 2004. Unlike others, we had never laid eyes on either player prior to that ESPN2 broadcast. While both were nationally heralded at the time, it was clear early on in the game that Howard was the more dynamic of the two, and Morris played very slow and always back to the basket. The shattered dreams of grandeur from that game may still be the reason that Drew at Peachtree Hoops has never truly seen Morris smile.)

Nothing much has changed as Howard relished taking it hard to his former AAU teammate over and over, including another thunderous dunk which caused Morris to be dwarfed by Howard physical presence.

And Morris was still not smiling.

As for the Hawks they struggled throughout the night to make any shots: layups, mid range, and of course the jump shot. You could chalk it up to shots not falling, but they never seemed to against the best teams last year, either.

For those who reveled in the delight of Josh Smith's epiphany regarding jump shooting throughout the preseason, this was not a good night to bring visitors to the revival--as even though the young Smith made a couple of those shots, alas, he did take them, including a Ty Corbin three.

We will definitely hold off on labeling Jeff Teague, but in ignoring an Ugh-for-Fifteen night, and factoring in his rookieness, the slight first rounder registered as a faster, leaner upgrade over Acie Law. He had a nice feel with the ball and passed well, but his outside shot was not good, and considering the coach and offense he plays in, that does not compute to good fit for his first season.

What Does It All Mean?

Tune in Monday for THHB's Season Preview to find out what it means----or you can read all over the lines above to get the glimpse of what we feel will be to come for the Birds. Or do neither--that's also THHB approved (we're appeasers!).

As far as this game goes, all it showed was that the Magic can still hit a lot of outside shots, and the Hawks still can't stop them.

Responsibly Crazy?

We had to go back into the great statistics at Basketball Reference to fact check Hubie Brown's assertion that Jason Williams (he of the Gator lineage) is a good, responsible decision maker in the open court. We had to rewind (3) times to make sure he said just that and then it was off to the statistics lab where we discovered that, indeed, Williams had tuned down the Wild-Child-Style from his early days to develop a more serene court sense. Go figure.

THHB takes a tip of the Jason Terry Memorial Hat to Williams, who returns to the league and increases the NBA Gator Nation by (1) in doing so. Williams was Billy Donovan's first big name landed at Florida and we thank him for his single season of fun there. Welcome back, crazy.

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