[Thanks to chgobr for today's preview -ed.]
Can we learn something from Atlanta's history?
After reaching the second round of the playoffs in 1989-99 the Atlanta Hawks moved into their new building 1999-00 and became the laughing stock of the NBA. They went nine years without making the playoffs reaching a depth of 13 - 69 in the 2004-5 season. They entered 2007-8 with a coach, Mike Woodson who was generally considered incompetent. The owners didn't fire Woodson because they focused on hating each other more than agreeing on how to help the team. The pathetic, management team became red meat for the media by having their disagreements settled in court. Atlanta's poor draft picks are highlighted in the 2005 draft by picking Marvin Williams at the #2 spot over Deron Williams who went #3 and Chris Paul who went #4. Milwaukee took Bogut #1. Atlanta's free agent pick-up Joe Johnson was considered overpaid and obtained via an unnecessary sign-trade where they did not need to give up Boris Diaw and a first round pick. Josh Smith (TT revisited) taken #17 in 2004 has been ridiculed as not understanding team basketball (low IQ) despite his incredible athleticism and shot -blocking ability. A new GM, Rick Sund was brought in May 28 2008 after Billy Knight was given the boot. A more dysfunctional team was hard to find.
Then the transformation
The ownership is the same. The coach is the same. Most of the players are the same. What happened to make this team change. One guess to what turned around this mess of a team, mess of a coach and management disaster is the February 16, 2008 trade for Mike Bibby. He seemed to be the glue that they needed. He makes big shots at the end of games. He takes the pressure off of Joe Johnson and calms the team when they are panicking. This team has improved from 13, 26, 30, 37 wins from 2004-5. They are headed for 50 wins this season. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this team is now on a joyride via their 18-10 record. Can we find our Mike Bibby?
The Bulls and tonight's game
The Trib reports that Deng will be out at least two weeks. I thought he was playing well last night until he went down. Pessimism is easy to find but best documented in last nights Miami Game Thread and continues into Matt's Post-Mortum. Despite looking terrible last night, losing Luol, not have Gooden and Hinrich hope prevails. Just look into some of last night's game results. New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Indiana lost. New York lost to the lowly Timberwolves last night which according to the New York Post officially ended the feel-good vibe of the Mike D'antoni era. Marvin Williams is shooting over 47% from the field and playing over 35 minutes per game. Josh Smith is back from injury. Add Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby you have a formidable team. Atlanta won at the UC 113-108 November 11th when Horford torched Noah for 27 points. The Hawks come into this game with a 3 game win streak. We are short-handed tonight, looked terrible last night but this is sports and the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics last night.
Blogging with the enemy: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a good source of information. The Atlanta Hawks Blog has the last post December 18th. The Hawks Hacks Blog also has their last post December 18th.
TV/radio: 6 p.m. Saturday, WGN-Ch. 9, WMVP-AM 1000.