Atlanta’s Lou Williams has caught fire since joining the starting lineup. What’s the biggest impact he’s had on the lineup?
Instant offense. Without question.
The Hawks are used to having that off of the bench in spurts because his minutes were down. But extra minutes for Williams has changed the dynamic of this team.
Now opponents have to deal with guards Jeff Teague and Williams at the same time. While Teague was more of a facilitator and Williams was scoring off the bench, the Hawks offer two dangers from outside the perimeter with speed and quickness. Before, they only had one on the floor at a time, but with Williams starting, it’s opened things up for the Hawks offensively.
What do you think is going to happen when fellow guard Devin Harris returns to the lineup from a foot injury? How will they balance all this?
When he gets back to game shape, which will take a couple of games, I think the Hawks are going to put Harris back in the starting lineup and move Williams back to the bench as their sixth man.
I think that’s a mistake but I believe that’s what they’re going to do, because the concern with Williams — and it’s been this way his entire career — is he’s so slight of build. The game is so physical that they’re worried about a man of Williams’ size holding up for an 82-game schedule.
It’s unfair, but it’s reality.
When you look at Saturday’s loss to the Celtics, the Hawks led by 19 points but lost 89-81 and physical play continues to be an issue for this team. Why?
I don’t know. It’s not like the Hawks don’t have physical players.
Zaza Pachulia is a big man — at 6-foot-11, 274 pounds — and in that epic seven-game playoff series in 2008 he went face-to-face with Kevin Garnett. He got in KG’s face and that was the first time someone in Atlanta stood up to the Celtics. It changed the dynamic of that series.
The Hawks are not afraid of the Celtics. Atlanta forward Ivan Johnson is as bad as they come, but the Hawks do not play a physical brand of basketball. It’s not as if they’re not intimidating, they just don’t physical back and I don’t understand why.
Larry Drew was named the Coach of the Month in November. What have you seen different out of him this year, and have changes been a matter of losing Joe Johnson?
It’s more than Joe and it’s more than the philosophy.
Drew has had to use his entire team. Instead of going to the starting five and two or three guys like last season when he was forced to do so because of the loss of Johnson and Marvin Williams, the influx of new players and then a lot of injuries.
Atlanta lost Harris for an extended period of time and guys were going down left and right. On the first road trip of the season, the team had to go to Oklahoma City without Josh Smith.
Drew has had to mix and match more this season and more than any Hawks coach has had the last five, six years.
After all those early lineup changes, do you think Drew has found the group that he’s more comfortable with?
At the beginning of the season, Drew was going big and small. Either Pachulia was in a lot or he wasn’t and Drew was moving Josh to the 3 (small forward).
Now I believe Pachulia is going to be on the bench and Drew thinks that the big man is pretty much settled in. The only question is whether Lou Williams stays in the starting lineup when Harris comes back.