Running with Zaza

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Hawks versus Bulls...Childress where?

Hot off the press--the Hawks do not miss Josh Childress. I have only been able to watch parts of different Hawks games this year, but tonight I was able to watch the whole game. Two things really stood out to me. First, even though the Hawks did not have a great game from Joe Johnson (4-16 from the field); the team controlled the game from start to finish. The Bulls made a couple of small runs, but I never thought the Hawks were in danger of losing—did not even enter my mind. Al Horford totally dominated this game. If he consistently plays at this level, Horford will be an All-Star. Secondly, the Hawks have better players and a better head coach than the Bulls. Both teams were missing very important players in Josh Smith and Kirk Heinrich. The Hawks’ bench more than made up for J-Smooth’s absence. Solomon Jones played solid minutes, but Zaza played a great game. He scored a few baskets, dished out some great assists, and played aggressively on defense. Zaza had a few hard fouls to set the tone in the first half. Although the defensive nuances go unnoticed by the announcing crew, Zaza showed hard on screens, helped and recovered to his man, and rebounded. When you couple that with a very active Horford with five blocked shots by halftime, you understand why the Hawks still are undefeated.

With a bigger starting line up and Horford playing more minutes at his natural position, the Hawks can weather the storm of losing J-Smooth for couple of weeks. Do you think Smith would come off the bench? Just kidding. I am confident Smooth is geared up for a great season. Here are two points that are concerns. Mike Bibby will not fight over ball screens at the top of the floor. The Bulls could only take advantage of that when Ben Gordon was handling the ball, because Derrick Rose cannot shoot outside of the lane. Scoring point guards could give the Hawks problems. I did like when Coach Woodson went to the zone in the 2nd quarter with Bibby at the top of the key. Changing up the defense slowed down the Bulls fastbreak and dribble-drive attack. Bibby will make it up on the offensive end and he blitzed Chicago in the 4th quarter. Coach Woodson has to watch Bibby’s minutes though. In my mind, Flip Murray is the back up and Acie Law probably will not see much floor time against the better teams.

Believe it or not my other concern is that the Hawks might be getting over confident. They scored so easily against the Bulls that at times the Hawks were a little sloppy handling the ball and executing the offense. The core group of players are veterans and this should not be a problem. Plus, Horford acts like a veteran NBA warrior. You know he had to love just killing Joakim Noah.

The Hawks’ win sets up a huge game tomorrow night against the Celtics. You have to be excited about the way the Hawks are playing. The guys are passing the basketball to open teammates, moving without the ball, and finishing with dunks. Without Josh Smith, it will be tough to beat the Celtics, but I like some of the match-ups for the Hawks. If Super Joe Johnson has a big night the Hawks can win the game.

Dominique Wilkins just had his best analysis of the night. The Hawks’ players know their roles. The NBA is so competitive and teams are playing at a very high level early in the season. Wednesday night is going to be great. Hawks versus Celts and the Lakers are at the Hornets on a second game of a back to back. Check out the game in Boston tomorrow at 7:30 pm, and you might catch Hawks’ fever.


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