It seems like every year the Atlanta Hawks are stuck in the same place: No man’s land. They’re a very talented and deep group that is capable of playing with any team in the NBA on a nightly basis, but when it comes to a seven game series, their flaws continue to show up and something is amiss. There’s no real reason to think that this season is any different. Right now, they sit in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference so as of now they won’t even have home-court advantage when the postseason starts. Given the injuries that they dealt with this season and are still dealing with, they deserve a lot of credit for the way they have been able to sustain a high level of play during the regular season, but unfortunately this season looks like it will end the same way many of Atlanta’s seasons have ended recently, with an early exit in the postseason. Atlanta’s best chance of that changing is with Joe Johnson, the team’s franchise player.
Joe Johnson joined WCNN in Atlanta with Buck and Kincade to talk about how excited he is for the playoffs to start, how tough this season has been, what the team’s main concern is heading into the playoffs, if he thinks the Hawks are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, what makes the Celtics so tough, how much of a difference home-court advantage makes for the Hawks.
How exciting it is for the playoffs to be right around the corner:
“We still have some significant games left considering the fact that we’re trying to close out and get home-court advantage. All the teams that we’re playing, they’re still playing for position and seeding as well so it’s going to be tough to finish off the last part of the season but it will be fun to get into the post-season.”
How tough this season has been:
“It’s been tough and the reason I say that is because of the recovery time. If you get a knick-knack injury, normally you can take two or three days of rest before your next game and you can heal up but now you’re playing three games in three nights, four games in five nights, and you have no recovery time so it’s tough. That’s why I think you see a lot of guys being injured. There’s a lot of guys out here with back injuries and it’s definitely made it tough.”
What the team’s main concern is heading into the playoffs and as the regular season winds down:
“For us, our main concern is getting home-court advantage honestly. I think we have a young enough team where guys will be able to bounce back and I just think when the playoffs come you’re always a little rejuvenated and ready to play so I wouldn’t want us to have to take too much time off and I think home-court advantage would be a plus for us.”
Whether he thinks the Hawks are one of the deepest teams in the NBA:
“I definitely do. When we’re healthy we’re a tough group because we’re deep in a lot of areas but the fact that we’re down to like three big guys it’s kind of tough. If we’re healthy we understand and know that we are a deep club.”
On what makes the Celtics so tough:
“They’re just an experienced group that has been around the block, know the ins and outs and they do the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. That’s what has been getting them over the hump. They’ve caught fire the second half of the season and they know when to turn it up.”
How big of a difference home court advantage makes:
“It makes a big difference. You feed off their energy and it just kind of takes you to another level. Like I said for us it will be very important but knowing and understanding that if we have to go out on the road and get a game, we can do that. We did it last year twice but just ended up losing two here at home so we know we can go out and win on the road but we prefer to have home court advantage.”