Last night’s game between the Portland Trailblazers and the Atlanta Hawks took on added meaning as Jamal Crawford returned to Philips arena for the first time since he and the Hawks parted ways.
Crawford was a huge part of what the Hawks did last year as he handled the ball often and took a good chunk of big shots. Few bench players in the league can take over a game like Crawford can.
“(Crawford) can handle the ball,” Atlanta’s head coach Larry Drew said. “He is good coming off screens, he is a good one-on-one player and we just tried to put him in those situations as much as possible.”
Before the game, Drew touched on what Crawford brought to the Hawks and how things have changed in his absence.
“The way our team is structured now with the guys who come off the bench, these guys kind of get theirs within what we do,” Drew said. “Where as before, everybody knew when Jamal got in the game we ran plays specifically for him.”
This year, the Hawks have a completely different style of play coming off of the bench with a mix of guys who can score in the flow of the offense but are far less aggressive than Crawford. With the fiasco that was this offseason and a jam-packed regular season, teams around the league have had to adjust to the new additions and losses to their rosters on the fly.
Luckily for the Hawks, the new additions to the team finally seem to be on the same page as the players that have been on the roster.
“It really feels like these guys are starting to get a good feel for each other,” Drew said after the Hawks 92-89 victory over the Trail Blazers. “In this home stand, I think our guys did a really good job of meshing together.”
The increase in chemistry couldn’t have come at a better time as the Hawks currently find themselves on a four game winning streak despite the recent Al Horford injury.
Josh Smith is another big reason the Hawks have been able to run off four straight. With the exception of the Minnesota game, Smith has looked spectacular during the Hawks current run. His 30 point, 13 rebound outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats sparked Atlanta’s streak.
Atlanta will try to keep things rolling Friday when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers.