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Pre-Season Game Thread #4

WHO: Charlotte (0-2) at Atlanta (2-1)

WHEN: 7pm

WHERE: No TV, Hawks Radio Network (should any station preempt coverage of the pre-season game I suggest NBA Audio League Pass)

Injury Report: I assume Speedy Claxton is still out. No injury news reported from Charlotte.

We've found something on which Mike Woodson and I can agree. Larry Brown is a genius.

"I think it’s pretty obvious that Larry sees the game in ways that most other people can’t. He has a brilliant basketball mind. And he’s going to make [the Bobcats] better because they’re going to have to adopt a lot of what he believes in to play for him."

Charlotte has lost their first two pre-season games by significant margins (38 @Orlando, 13 @Memphis) suggesting that Coach Brown is still in the tear-them-down rather than the build-them-back-up portion of his grand plan*.

*Grand plan subject to attempts to trade three-fourths of the roster at any point(s) in the next two months. I kid because I love.

Today's AJC story also taught me that the Hawks consider the Bobcats to be a serious rival.

“They’ve been a thorn in our side the past few years and I’ve certainly had to hear about it,” said Marvin Williams, who played his college ball at North Carolina where he was teammates with the Bobcats’ Ray Felton and Sean May. “Because we’ve both been young teams and been basically fighting for the same space in the division and in the [Eastern Conference], there’s a natural rivalry that’s there.”

That makes sense. Josh Smith's explanation is a bit more troubling:

"They’ve always been a team that’s given us fits. I think a lot of it has been about how hard they play and the fact that they were an expansion team, and when you’re in that situation you play with a chip on your shoulder. You play like a team with something to prove."

Would not the Hawks also have been a team with plenty to prove during Josh Smith's tenure?

Some more links for the afternoon...

Was their playoff performance against the Celtics for real or just a false harbinger of excellence?

It's certainly not impossible for the Hawks to challenge the Celtics on a sustained basis. But only if Josh Smith decides that he's ready to be an authentic star and plays with passion from tip to buzzer. Only if Mike Bibby recovers the step that he's lost somewhere along the way. Only if Acie Law is ready to get up and go. Only if Al Horford develops a post-up game. Only if Maurice Evans' aggressive defense and Flip Murray's tricky offense can somehow be combined into one all-around player — Mo Murray.

Only if Joe Johnson can continue being The Man.

That's too many ifs to prevent reality from overcoming fantasy.

  • On the occasion of the Miami/New Jersey exhibition game in London, the Guardian's Paolo Bandini doesn't envision an immediate future for the NBA in England.

Six years have passed since the NBA commissioner David Stern first floated the idea of expanding his league to include one or more teams based in Europe. "Those are not fanciful discussions or thoughts," said Stern at the NBA's 2002 All-Star game in Philadelphia, adding that the league was also looking at opportunities in Mexico. "Give us three to four years to come up with the right plan."

That plan remains, at best, a half-formed one. Yesterday London hosted its second NBA pre-season game in as many years — between the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets — and yet European expansion was not even top of the agenda at the pregame press conferences. Instead Stern's first concern was announcing the league's new agreement with AEG, the sports and entertainment group who own the O2, to design and operate a number of new basketball arenas in China.