Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.
Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.
By Mark Phelps
Joe Johnson: Joe's hot hand started the game out as he used his size advantage to expose the defensive limitations of the Cavs' backcourt. He stayed hot throughout the game, finishing 11-of-16 and 3-4 from the arc, surprisingly playing off the ball and getting int catch-and-shoot situations often. Joe also picked up five assists and four rebounds. Since both Teague and Hinrich are starting and Joe is technically moving up to the small forward slot, you might expect a few more rebounds, but you can't argue too much with a great game like this. 9/10
Josh Smith: Josh provided the flipside to Joe's coin, extremely cold shooting from the floor, finishing a paltry 3-15, but the nine assists, eight boards, and ability to guard five positions shows that he's a more complete player than often given credit for. A great use of a poor shooting night, even if his defense was lacking late in the game. 5/10
Zaza Pachulia: You can't fault Zaza's energy for the game. Despite not shooting well, he was all over the court, fighting for rebounds and hounding the Cleveland offense. His 12 rebounds helped swing the game the Hawks' direction early, and so far, only twice in March has he been kept from the double-digit plateau in rebounds. He picked up 40 minutes on the front half of a back-to-back, showing why he is an integral part to this Hawks team. 5/10
Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich has shown flashes of his old self this month, and this is what you want to see. His effective use of screens and penetration of the lane led to a 6-10 shooting performance. A few more assists than the one he chalked up would be nice, but if we see this side of Kirk more often, there will be no complaints over not
dealing him at the deadline. 6/10
Jeff Teague: Absolutely great day for Teague. Jeff saw a lot of action with both the first and second units, had a great shooting day at 8-14, and hounded the super-quick Kyrie Irving as much as anyone could expect. Though he didn't share the ball as well as he might, he still provided a great spark on offense and didn't seem to lose a step on D. 7/10
Ivan Johnson: Would anyone bother defining Ivan as anything other than a hustle player? It totally paid off today, as he was constantly being rewarded for solid positioning and running the court. He was 5-5 from the floor and picked up four rebounds. Even if the Cavs aren't a top-tier team, he really showed why he was pulled out of the D-league today. 8/10
Tracy McGrady: It's always great to see Tracy play well -- the Hawks become a much deeper team, and we needed that with numerous injuries and illnesses affecting the Hawks bench today. Excellent energy in attacking the basket and using his length to harass the Cavs on both offense and defense. Quietly efficient basketball and six rebounds off the bench from the small forward slot. 6/10
Jerry Stackhouse: Give it to Jerry Stackhouse. He will never know at the beginning of a game if he will play one minute of game time and he's far too old to be what he used to be, but he always comes out with the fervor of a player half his age. Jerry picked up nine points, including three on trips to the line in nine minutes. 5/10
Jason Collins: Hey! Jason Collins is back...so, there you have it. Incomplete
Erick Dampier: One minute for Erick. Incomplete
The head coach
Drew played a reasonably smart game today, using the Hawks' height advantage to run the score up early -- the Cavs never led after the first five minutes of the game. He was also able to rest Joe & Josh a bit since the Hawks will be back home to play another tomorrow against Boston. Effective use of post offense and high screens for the long-range guns, and we help push the Cavs one step closer to another postseason off. 7/10
A thought regarding the opposition
1) Why have people been saying the race for Rookie of the Year was between Irving and Rubio? Even before he was hurt, Rubio has still not been the player Irving has been. I know every team would love to have this guy. Great shooter, above average passer. Oh yeah, he's NINETEEN. Point guards of the NBA, watch out.
2) I was a little surprised the Cavs waived Jason Kapono after the trade that sent Ramon Sessions to L.A. Sure, he's not the player he was a few years back, but he can still be a dangerous long-range weapon and he was signed for minimum money. It will be interesting to see if any team that needs a bomber going into the playoffs takes a gamble on him.
Notes: Neither Kapono nor also-newly-acquired Luke Walton played in this game. Former Hawk Donald Sloan did step onto the court for a minute.