Who says you can’t go back home?
Veteran guard Mike Bibby made his return to Philips arena last night and despite a couple boos, an overwhelming ovation greeted the former Hawk as he entered the game close to the end of the first quarter.
“It was good to come back and see all the guys,” Bibby said in the locker room after the game.
Bibby spent time before the game catching up with some of his old teammates and it seemed like not to long ago he was cracking jokes on Marvin Williams’ court attire and Zaza Pachulia’s restaurant. Seeing Bibby interact with his Atlanta friends, it’s easy to see that he was an important part of the locker room.
In fact, Josh Smith said Bibby is one of his best friends on the team and Bibby said he valued their friendship as well.
“(Smith) is like a little brother to me,” Bibby said. “I still talk to him ’til this day. I still talk to a lot of guys.”
Since being traded to the Wizards, bought out and picked up by the Heat, Bibby has made some contributions off of the bench. In his nine games since taking his talents to South Beach, he has averaged 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and two assists per game.
Kirk Hinrich is on the other side of the trade. The savvy guard was brought in from Washington to help the Hawks’ perimeter defense and both coaches Eric Spoelstra and Larry Drew had good things to say about him.
Spoelstra said that Hinrich brings the Hawks toughness and versatility and Drew seemed to be on board with this assessment.
“(Hinrich) has been a great pick-up for us,” Drew said. “He certainly brings toughness at the point guard position. He still knocks down threes but to me he is an old-school player and I think that is a great mix for the group of guys we have here.”
Since joining the Hawks, Hinrich has averaged 8.9 points, 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 47.2 percent from the three point line.
Both teams seem to have gained something from the trade as the Hawks picked up a more capable defender and penetrater while the Heat added another shooter to spread the floor for their big three.
Seeing Jeff Teague and Bibby go at it, both sporting the number zero, marked an interesting point in the Hawks evolution. Over the past couple of seasons, Bibby has been helping Teague develop into the point guard he is today. Since Bibby has left, Teague has picked up more minutes and even a couple starts and has responded well.
Lately when the Hawks have faced faster teams, Teague gets the start at the point while Hinrich moves over to the two guard.
“(Teague) has brought a quickness to that line up,” Drew said. “The speed itself just gives us a whole different look at the point guard position. I am now able to change the line-up depending on who we play from a match up stand point.”
The Hawks are more versatile squad now and their former point guard now finds himself closer to a trip to the NBA Finals that has eluded him his entire career.