One week before the Super Bowl, a different species of bird from Atlanta is headed to Dallas. More likely than not, however, they will be without one of their major pieces.
Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams awaits word from the NBA after his fight with Shawne Williams of the New York Knicks on Friday. The evidence shows that both players threw punches. Even if "Starvin Marvin's" attempt to beat down Shawne with his fist in "Skinny-Man Mayhem" 2011 didn't connect to the body of the Knicks forward, basketball ain't hockey. They don't like fighting in the NBA.
Under league rules, Marvin Williams will be suspended for at least one game (and possibly five). The only question is whether the NBA will hand down the discipline before tipoff against the Dallas Mavericks (8:30 PM, SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
Marvin Williams' suspension will come a terrible time for this Hawks team. Williams returned to the fold for the first time in 11 games on Wednesday. His first start came in Atlanta's 111-102 win over the Knicks on Friday. It was the first time in a long time the Hawks starting five have been healthy enough to start a game. Now they have a discipline problem. That may cause a lineup problem.
Atlanta could elect to start Maurice Evans at forward in place of Marvin Williams. Or they could go with their "big" lineup where Al Horford slides over to the four, Josh Smith to Marvin Williams' spot at the three and Jason Collins -- who sat on Friday -- starts at center.
In any event, they will have to deal with a Mavericks team that is looking for its fourth consecutive win. Although Dirk Nowitzki has struggled a bit as he has tried to regain his All-Star form after missing nine games with a sore right knee, he still has been serviceable over his last seven games. Dirk has averaged 19 points over that span, four under his season-average.
But Mark Cuban's Mavericks have not missed much of a beat as Jose Barea and Tyson Chandler have picked up the slack. Barea is coming off of a 19 point performance in the Mavs' 112-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, while Chandler is averaging over 20 points during Dallas' three-game winning streak.
Even if Marvin Williams is suspended, the Hawks still have leading scorer Joe Johnson, who is coming off of a 34 point performance against New York. Smith posted 24 points and Horford added 19 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta, which has split its last four games.
The Mavericks won the first matchup of the season between the two clubs, posting a 98-93 win in Atlanta on Nov. 20. Dallas has also won 10 of their last 12 against Atlanta at the American Airlines Center, but dropped a 80-75 decision to the Hawks the last time these two teams met there on Dec. 5, 2009.