HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Maybe next time you all will listen to Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson.
The man said his team would still be elite after All-Star center Al Horford was lost for the season and in the weeks since he said that, that’s exactly what they have been. If nothing else, Johnson is a man of his word.
The Hawks are 9-2 in the 11 games since Horford went down, with Johnson and Josh Smith leading the way and a host of other players stepping up to help fill the void for the 16-6 Hawks.
We tried to warn the masses that this Hawks team was going to defy the critics who assumed that the loss of Horford would spell doom for their season. We wrote about it in this space right shortly after the news broke:
While most everyone assumes that the Hawks will struggle just to make the playoffs without their two-time All-Star center, I think the Hawks become an infinitely more dangerous team without him. Before you spit that coffee all over your computer screen, walk with me for a minute (and remember that this is the Hawks we’re talking about, a team that has found a way to become a postseason staple the past four years in spite of all of their draft gaffes, enigmatic play and general dysfunction).
From Johnson and Smith to Jeff Teague and Tracy McGrady, coach Larry Drew has found ways to pull all of the right things out of this Hawks team so far this season. They just passed their first rugged road test of the season with a 4-1 mark, losing only in San Antonio (where the birds fly south to get crushed on an annual basis).
Johnson and Smith should be on the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season. They’ve earned their way onto that reserves list. And should they continue to operate in that top four mix in the Eastern Conference, Drew’s name should come up in conversations about Coach of the Year and Teague should make the short list of candidates for the Most Improved Player in the league.
The Hawks as an elite team?
Joe Johnson said it first!