Atlanta Hawks face lineup changes

Updated: May 2, 2011, 11:05 AM ET
By Michael Wallace | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Injuries and matchup concerns have the Atlanta Hawks considering multiple changes to their starting lineup for Monday's playoff series opener against the Chicago Bulls.

As the Hawks wrapped up practice Sunday and left Philips Arena to board the team's flight to Chicago, coach Larry Drew said he had yet to settle on a replacement for injured starter Kirk Hinrich at point guard. Drew also hinted at possible changes at small forward and center.

The adjustments are partly the result of the Hawks shifting their focus from defending Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard in the frist round to now facing explosive Bulls guard Derrick Rose in the conference semifinals.

"We're looking at different things [and] we have not decided yet," Drew said. "We'll go through a walk-through [practice] and look at some other things, but we haven't sorted it out. I'm just going on feel right now. Obviously, against this Bulls team, we're not facing Dwight Howard."

Rose, the frontrunner for the league's MVP award, presents his own set of headaches for the Hawks, who are expected to be without their best defensive guard in Hinrich for the entire series as he recovers from a severely strained right hamstring.

The Hawks have practiced for two days with both Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford getting work with the first-team at point guard.

Teague has averaged 5.2 points and 2.0 assists per game in his second NBA season. He started seven games this season, including a stretch in February when the Hawks traded Mike Bibby and acquired Hinrich.

Drew would prefer to keep Crawford coming off the bench, where he thrived against Orlando and led the Hawks in scoring at 20.5 points a game in the 4-2 series victory.

"The decision that I have to kind of ponder is whether to disrupt what we do off the bench versus just going back and starting [Crawford]," Drew said. "The last few days, we've looked at both situations. The things we've done, we've used them in the starting lineup and out of the starting lineup."

The Hawks could also go with a smaller lineup that would re-insert Marvin Williams at small forward, shift Josh Smith to power forward and open with Al Horford at center. To accommodate defensively for Howard, the Hawks started Smith at small forward, Horford at power forward and veteran Jason Collins at center against Orlando.

The Hawks have routinely made adjustments on the fly, using 17 different starting lineups this season. Atlanta has seven players who have started at least 22 games.

Hinrich, who sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Thursday's series-clinching win against Orlando, traveled with the team to Chicago but is listed as doubtful. Drew said Sunday he doesn't expect Hinrich to be available at any point in the series.

"He does look like he's walking better," Drew said. "Kirk is a tough guy. What I was told, going into this series and hearing how the injury was, me personally, I'm not looking for him to come back."

Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com.

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