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Knicks vs. Hawks Preview with ESPN's Avery Johnson

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ESPN analyst Avery Johnson took time out to talk to Peachtree Hoops about the Knicks, Mike Budenholzer, Jeff Teague, Josh Smith, his new Kia Countdown gig and, oh yeah, the Knicks vs. Hawks.

Courtesy of ESPN

When the New York Knicks visit the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night, it will be broadcast on ESPN and WatchESPN with Dave Pasch and Hubie Brown on the call at 8pm EST.

Leading into the telecast, Avery Johnson makes his Kia NBA Countdown debut at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, previewing the game and discussing top NBA storylines. Johnson will appear regularly on Wednesday editions of Countdown alongside Doris Burke and Jalen Rose. He also appears on NBA Tonight, NBA Coast to Coast, SportsCenter and across ESPN platforms.

Oh, and he was nice enough to drop by the Peachtree Hoops headquarters and chat a little about the game, the Knicks, the Hawks and a certain former Atlanta Hawk as well.

About the Knicks current situation w/Dolan's guarantee and Woody's hot seat:

Well, it's definitely premature to start getting guarantees from owners/management this early in the season. You've got a starting center, heart of the defense out 4-6 weeks, the starting two guard/offensive spark just back from suspension and Amare out.

People should give (Knicks head coach Mike) Woodson a break. Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony are the only stable pieces right now, so the head coach has to do whatever he needs to try to keep things afloat. There is 35M tied up between Chandler and Amare and they are not available. Other guys not named Carmelo have to step up like the Bulls stepped up last year when Derrick Rose went down.

At the same time, there is definitely pressure building and folks from the Knicks are likely feeling pressure with all the Brooklyn Nets moves in the offseason, getting Garnett, Pierce, Kirilenko.

It'll take time -- the Spurs didn't become the Spurs overnight. They're changing a culture over there and it takes time. -Avery Johnson


What to expect from the Hawks' new coaching staff:

(Avery played on the Spurs when Mike Budenholzer was on staff from 1997-2001)

When Pop (Spurs' Gregg Popovich) took over, he went defense first and then slowly changed the offense. What you'll see is a more free-flowing offense, more continuity on that end.

It'll take time -- the Spurs didn't become the Spurs overnight. They're changing a culture over there and it takes time.

On the Hawks:

Horford is a consistent player and if they can get 18 points, 10 rebounds and have him defend the middle, they'll be good. Kyle Korver really stretches the floor and Paul Millsap is a hard working man and, while he's not Josh Smith, he's veteran guy who'll help the team.

Jeff Teague is someone who's been averaging a double-double and playing good ball -- anytime someone in the league averages over nine assists a game, he's playing high level ball.

There's a lot of talent on this team, and they can easily be a six or seven seed in the playoffs.

Josh Smith:

Josh was a big part of the Hawks and I think Josh was a bit under-appreciated in Atlanta. You've got a crowd shouting "Noooooooo" every time he shoots the ball, and that's not right. There were a number of seasons where he was playing good enough to be an All-Star.

The change of scenery will do him good, but I think he was under-appreciated there.

What to expect from the game Wednesday night:

It's going to be a great game -- I'm sure the microscope will be on the Knicks, their injury situation and there's always going to be folks who are talking about Carmelo's potential free agency.

(I told him I would let folks know that he, Doris Burke and Jalen Rose would be kicking off ESPN's double-header coverage with Oklahoma City Thunder playing the Los Angeles Clippers in the late game, but only if he promised that it won't be all Knicks, all night during the studio show.)

(Laughs) Oh no, I have some stuff on the Hawks, too. Look, anytime there is drama with another team, it's going to get a lot of attention, but we'll discuss what Coach Bud is doing there in Atlanta, how well Teague is playing and that
Danny (Hawks GM Danny Ferry) was right in matching that offer sheet.

Peachtree Hoops thanks ESPN and Avery Johnson for the time and thoughts. We also thank ESPN for scheduling the great Hubie Brown to announce the game. As he would say, "he's one of the best we have in the league."

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