This post is more an excuse to revel in all that was awesome about last nights Sundiata Gaines' buzzer beater to beat Cleveland, but it does raise an interesting question for Hawks fans. If you don't know Gaines story or need a recap about what happened last night go here and here. Actually, even if don't need those things, go there because it is great info.
Mr. Gaines got me thinking about the Mario West signing, more broadly Jeff Teague, and then totally macro about the identity of the team. I am much more moderate than most on the Mario signing. It is the 10th man. You are not going to see me defining this as the seminal moment of ineptness for franchise or crowning the Hawks now certain champions of the east because of Mario West. Many things could have happened with the last roster spot. More qualified veterans are available. Better all around D-leaguers are out there. But they went with Mario, and Mario can bring something to the team even if is largely immeasurable. Basically, my expectations were low no matter what direction the team went. At least now, I know what to expect.
However, that Sundiata Gaines game winner is a fairy tale. And I know it is fairy tale because it never happens. Last night was an outlier. It may never happen again in such a beautiful, perfectly fit for the blogging world kind of way. But what troubles me, is the Hawks would never even give it the opportunity to occur.
It may be because the Hawks are more versatile and deep than the Jazz. The only reason Sundiata was playing was because Deron Williams got hurt mid game, but if Joe Johnson got hurt, do you think Mario West would have the chance to be the hero? If Mike Bibby went down, would anyone pencil in possible fourth quarter heroics for Jeff Teague? Shoot, Teague could have the the third quarter of his life to get the team back into a game, and I still would expect a Crawford, Johnson, Marvin lineup in the last two minutes.
I don't mean to compare apples to oranges or take an anomaly to prove a generalization, but the Hawks do not show belief in their bench. This is a six man team. Role players win games in the second quarter or don't lose games for short stretches in the third. But when the rubber meets the road, the starters are going to be put in to finish the job. Really, it is as it should be if not for the fact that it is always that. Because it may seem trivial but watching Sundiata drill that shot makes me think he is going to feel a part of that team for the rest of his time with the Jazz. There is a trust and confidence that a 1,000 practices cannot build.
The Hawks find their strength in the starters, but if they want to be a team, they should put in the game tape from last night. It would take a perfect situation, in a perfect game, but it should at least be a possibility. And if Atlanta is signing people that we will never put in that possibility maybe we should think a little bigger. We often say how the Hawks get into bad roles and ruts especially late in the game. Maybe it is because there is never any change in the personnel.There is never a chance for a fairy tale, and it is tough to dream big for 82 games with that kind of mindset.