The Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight game to start the season with a 100-88 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks got off to a fast start running up 40 points in the first quarter alone before a cold shooting spree let the Cavs back in the game. The Hawks never lost control of the game and took command once again during the fourth quarter where they outscored the Cavs by eleven points.
Before we dive to deep into this recap I want to look at Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham's game previewyesterday. It is interesting that he asked coach Larry Drew about the Bibby, Crawford, and Johnson lineup that had been finishing games. Drew had this to say about the lineup:
"Jamal is a shot maker," he said. "Bibby is a shot maker. You know teams are going to double-team Joe so you’ve got to have shot makers out there with him."
The question is (and it has been echoed throughout in the comments section of our game threads) is can the Hawks get enough defensively with that alignment on the floor? Another quote from Cunningham's preview:
L.D. repeated a constant theme before the game tonight when he said: "We can’t try to be a team that just outscores people. The teams that re good teams do it with defense. If we want to be mentioned in the same breath as some of these teams then we have to defend better, rebound better."
I wouldn't bring this up had coach Drew not reinserted Marvin Williams into the lineup for the stretch run. Of course that decision is made much easier when Marvin clearly has it going offensively as he clearly did on this night. One of the things that I have liked from coach Drew thus far is that I believe he is going to be flexible as a coach. He has already been very liberal with the bench. He has mixed it up on offense. I don't think you are going to see a set pattern of who will be on the court down the stretch each and every night. It is a great sign that a player that has it going might actually get left in especially if the match ups dictate that it is a good move. It is early still, but this is something to keep an eye on going forward. Great job coach Drew.
Box Score musings after the jump
- Marvin was marvelous tonight. A team high 22 points on red hot 8-12 shooting and 5-6 from the free throw line for good measure. The best part was that he was active and aggressive. He even said after the game that he needed to be active and aggressive. Coming into this season Marvin also said that he needed to work on being more consistent and bringing that aggressive attitude has to be his number one priority going forward.
- Al Horford ran his double double streak to three straight games with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He was efficient (7-13 from the field, 2-2 from the line) and threw in four assists for good measure. He did all of that once again in about 31 minutes of action.
- Mike Bibby is clearly more suited for this motion offensive attack than he was for the isolation heavy scheme that was in place before. Bibby finished with 15 points and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. As THHB pointed out, his name might not belong in the same sentence with the word defense, but he is a calming influence on the Hawks offense.
- Joe Johnson had a very forgettable night offensively. 15 points on 6-21 shooting shows how much of a struggle it was. A lot of those shots were good shots as well and were open. The great part about Joe's game is that he can impact the team in other ways. His 9 assists led the Hawks tonight and despite his bad shooting numbers, Cleveland was still forced to double team him in the post and Joe burned them what seemed like every time down the stretch. Edit - with those 9 assists, Joe Johnson moved into 10th place on the Hawks all time assist list.
- Just when you get ready to pile on Josh Smith for a 6 point 3-11 night from the floor you look at the box score and see 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. The numbers might suggest otherwise but this wasn't Josh's best game defensively as he was matched up on J.J. Hickson who scored a career high 31 points for much of the night. Josh also had four assists and also did not have a turnover in the game.
- Jamal Crawford scored 16 points in 22 minutes and you can almost feel an offensive explosion building from him very soon. He checked out in the fourth in favor of Marvin Williams.
- Jeff Teague's offensive numbers don't look great (2 points 0-5 shooting) but I still came away pleased with his defense. He simply has the tools to stay in front of the quicker point guards that none of the other Hawks possess. Hopefully his offensive game will come and he did dish out two assists in the game.
- Second team bigs Josh Powell and Zaza Pachulia combined for 29 minutes, 8 points, 3-5 shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and only 1 turnover.
- The Hawks had seven turnovers as a team while Cleveland turned it over 14 times.