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Atlanta Hawks’ dilemma: Should Jamal Crawford be benched for Damien Wilkins? Fan’s perspective
As an Atlanta Hawks' fan, I was thrilled to see my home team beat the Bulls in Chicago in Game 1 and Jamal Crawford's 21-point effort was instrumental in that win.
However, Jamal Crawford's reputation as mainly a streaky, instant offense type of player is intact, but also his reputation as an inconsistent defensive player has emerged once again as the Hawks are within one game of elimination after losing 95-83 in Game 5 at Chicago.
In recent columns, I had talked about Josh Smith being able to make the right decisions offensively on the floor. However, Josh Smith's(notes) impact defensively along with his ability to alter or block shots and makes up sometimes for his poor offensive performance.
Well, in Jamal Crawford's case, the longer he stays on the floor without having that impact of making shots is hurting the Atlanta Hawks defensively.
Crawford has been mostly one-dimensional and if his outside shooting is shut down, he appears to shut down in other phases of the game, especially defensively.
The Bulls' Keith Bogans scored 11 points in 24 minutes and Luol Deng scored 23 points in 45 minutes.
In this Chicago series, Crawford's inability to defend or willingness to defend is just as bad as Josh Smith shooting ill-advised outside shots.
Coach Larry Drew has to make adjustments and it may be difficult to sit Jamal Crawford because he is a veteran, but it is something that needs to be done if the Hawks are to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time ever since the francise moved to Atlanta.
Damien Wilkins(notes), just like Jeff Teague, has sat on the bench for most the regular season. Teague was forced to play in this series after Kirk Hinrich(notes) hurt his ankle against the Orlando Magic and has played exceptionally well.
Drew was wrong not to play the speedy, defensive-minded Teague and I believe he is wrong by keeping the defensive-minded Damien Wilkins on the bench.
Wilkins is the best defensive perimeter player on the bench and should receive at least 20 to 25 minutes a game either at the shooting guard or small forward position.
Chicago's head coach is not afraid to make changes to his rotation and Coach Drew has to realize that the Hawks need to focus on defending and rebounding or it will be more difficult to even win Game 6 in Atlanta or a potential Game 7 in Chicago.
After trusting Jeff Teague and getting Josh Smith to play smarter, Coach Larry Drew has to favor Damien Wilkins' stronger defense instead of playing the defensively-challenged Jamal Crawford in order ot give his Hawks the best chance of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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