As I write this, Atlanta is playing the first of a two game preseason road trip. They’re taking on the Pistons, and move to Washington later in the week. Of course, if you consult the home page for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site, you’d have no idea what was going on over there. Everyone’s focused on Game 4 of the Braves-Giants series (Atlanta’s up 1-0 in the fourth, as Brooks Conrad tries to avoid the Goat Hall of Fame. Funny, I can remember his walk-off grand slam to win a game earlier this season against Cincinnati. I think I’m the only one in the city with a deep memory). To get a score, I have to go to Hawks.com. Give me a second to get over here. Got it. Pistons are up by 3 at the break, 55-52. Joe Johnson with 15 and Al Horford with 11. Rodney Stuckey leads Detroit with 12.
Atlanta’s got a bit of a problem with this trip. Almost a third of the roster is out with assorted ailments. Jamal Crawford and Pape Sy have bad backs, Jason Collins, Maurice Evans and Jeff Teague have different leg problems, and Marvin Williams (more on him later) has the catch all flu-like symptoms. And, to really drive the point home, even Steve Holman and the radio crew stayed home. The NBA.com site is the only way I can get information. Atlanta has a somewhat deserved reputation for being a bad pro sports city. Stuff like this does not help our case.
Back to the games. We’re dressing eleven, including three players who need minutes so they can get used to the new offense (more on this next paragraph). Exhibition results don’t matter, but the minutes do. That’s two games that those players can’t absorb the system. When the roster returns to full size, it’s time for an extra long cram session.
A couple of posts back, I gave the sporting equivalent of the chicken and egg argument. For a new coach, do you force players to adapt to your system, or do you adapt your system to the players? (And then, do you work with your GM to find players that are most comfortable with your system?) I only bring this up because it directly relates to Marvin Williams. If this was a Survivor situation, and the fans had the vote, let’s just say Marvin would be leaving the island. Marvin didn’t feel comfortable in former coach Mike Woodson’s isolation-heavy system. Larry Drew promised a motion offense. This is what Marvin likes. The result? He scored 18 and got in a rhythm in the Hawks’ exhibition opener.
Here comes the bad news. Atlanta lost that game 115-111 in OT to Memphis. This is a game that never should have made it to an extra frame. Memphis outscored Atlanta 42-18 in the third quarter to turn what was a commanding Hawk lead into a three point Grizzly advantage. It was tied at 99 with time running down, but rookie Jordan Crawford tried the game winning shot, and banged it off the front rim. Now don’t confuse Jordan Crawford with Jamal Crawford. Jordan is the rookie from Xavier. Jamal is a ten-year veteran, was known for having the longest NBA career without a playoff game (a skein that ended last season), and making noises about wanting either a contract extension, or a trade. I’m probably going to confuse these two throughout the season.
About the Author
Written by John Morgo
John Morgo lives in Atlanta, GA where he has done broadcast work for CNN, The Weather Channel and Encompass Digital Media. As of right now, he does Internet play-by-play for Georgia Perimeter College and Norcross High School. With GPC, he is the voice of the men's soccer, basketball, and baseball teams.