ATLANTA - OCTOBER 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Marvin Williams #24 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on October 21 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The long wait is now officially over. Tonight the Atlanta Hawks will kick off the 2010-11 for real in Memphis. When you look at the Hawks you see a team with a lot of familiar faces yet there is a lot of changes going on with the team. With Larry Drew replacing Mike Woodson on the bench, the Hawks are set to shift philosophies on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
The exhibition season was a mixed bag with highlights like a home victory over the Miami Heat and lowlights in blow out losses to the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats. As unhappy as we were about those blowout losses, the most damaging thing of the preseason was the amount of injuries that the Hawks had to deal with. Injuries to players like Jeff Teague in particular have slowed down his expected transition into a bigger role within the rotation.
The eyes of Hawks nation will cast their gaze upon Memphis tonight to see what is not a finished product but the beginning of a new chapter. The Hawks are expected to run the same starting five onto the court tonight that they have had for the fourth consecutive season. For a team that won 50 games last year that is a strength anyway you want to look at it despite the changing systems and I can use Boston's Tuesday victory over Miami as an example.
Yet even among the most optimistic there remains an uneasiness about this team. In a reloaded Eastern Conference can the Hawks compete? Was a new coach with new philosophies what was needed? Tonight the quest to answer those questions and many others about this team officially begins.
Are you ready?