The Hawks are in 3rd place in the Southeast Division behind Miami and Orlando, but if the Playoffs were held today they’d be the 5th seed in the East with a record of 22-14 (.611). They’re 12-5 at home and 10-9 on the road, but they’re only 6-6 against the West and 6-4 in their last 10.
Since the beginning of December they have only played 2 Western Conference teams at home and beat both, the first against Memphis on Dec. 1st 112-109 and the second against Golden State 103-93 last Wednesday. On the road they lost to the Spurs, Hornets and Thunder before beating the Clippers 107-98 on Sunday.
The Hawks made some minor additions in the off season, signing free agents Ethan Thomas, Damien Wilkins, and Josh Powell. And, they acquired Jordan Crawford the 27th pick in the Draft in a draft night trade. Thomas has only seen action in 4 games. Powell the 6-9 forward has been with 6 different teams in his 6 years in the NBA. He’s averaging 5.6 pts / 2.9 rebs in 14 mpg. Wilkins is a 6-6 guard/forward who’s in his 7 season, after playing 5 years with Seattle / OKC, and last year in Minnesota. He’s seen 13 minutes of action per game in the last 12 games, averaging 2.6 pts / 1.9 rebs. Crawford the 6-4 guard out of Xavier has struggled and has seen action in only 10 games and only one since Thanksgiving.
So, we’ll be seeing the same Hawks team as last year; Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson in the backcourt, and Al Horford, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams in the frontcourt. Jamal Crawford is averaging 15 pts / 3.5 asts / 1.7 rebs in 30 mpg off the bench. And, Jeff Teague the 6-2 PG out of Wake Forest, is averaging 4.3 pts / 2 asts / 1.5 rebs in about 13 mpg. The backup big man is 6-11 center Zaza Pachulia who gets about 13.5 mpg and averages 4.2 pts / 3.4 rebs.
Atlanta beat the Kings in Sacramento last season 113-105. Martin was our leading scorer with 29 and JT was 2nd with 22, but Tyreke was only 7-21 for 15 pts. The 3pt shooting was even and the Kings were outrebounded 47-43 but won the offensive boards 19-12, thanks to JT who had 8 offense rebounds to go along with 4 on the defensive end. The Hawks had 16 turnovers to the Kings 7, which lead to the Kings getting 96 FGA’s to the Hawks 85. Unfortunately, the Hawks dominated the paint hitting 30 of 40 shots (75%) inside 10 ft while the Kings were only 22 of 50 (44%). And in the end the Hawks ended up shooting 54% to the Kings 42%.
In the game in Atlanta, the shooting percentages were closer as was the scoring in the paint. Mostly due to Tyreke going 7-9 at the rim and scoring 24 pts to go along with Martins 23. But, Atlanta was able to get to the FT line 13 more times and outscore the Kings by 11 at the charity stripe in an 11 pt victory.
This season, the Hawks score about 6 pts more than the Kings on the deep ball, while the Kings are scoring about 5 pts more at the rim. Both teams get to the FT line at about the same rate, but the Hawks shoot 77.5% to the Kings 71.4%. But the Kings are 2nd in offensive rebounding while the Hawks are 24th, although the Hawks are the better defensive rebounding team. And, both teams have similar turnover rates.
As exciting as the last 2 home games have been, the Hawks are a step above both the Suns and the Grizzlies. And, while DeMarcus and Sammy are giant steps above Spencer as far as last season’s matchups go, we are without Martin and Tyreke isn’t playing at the same level as last season. Atlanta is by far the more experienced and talented team and they are 16-5 against sub-.500 teams. They are 11-2 when they score 100 or more points, and the Kings are 3-17 when their opponents score 100+, so it would seem the Kings best chance of winning is by playing defense and keeping it a low scoring game.
In the Kings last 9 losses they have only held the opposition to under 100 pts twice, but their last 2 wins came after holding their opponent to 98 and 89 pts. So, the game planned should be play better defense. Control the defensive boards which might mean more of DMC & Sammy and less of Carl. In Atlanta’s losses against the West, they were held to 94 pts by OKC, 86 by NOR, 93 by Dallas, and 86 by Utah. And, the one common stat in all the games is the Hawks had the lower Offensive and Defensive Rebounding rate.
We also need to eliminate turnovers. Atlanta is 2nd to last in steals and 21st in blocked shots, so if we turn over the ball it’s probably going to be due to unforced errors. Take your time running your half-court offense and make sure several players get back on defense if the shot is missed; no easy fast break points. Atlanta plays at a slower pace than what were used to playing, so taking our time doesn’t mean slowing down, we can still play an up-tempo game, just don’t take early shots before the rebounders get into position like we did in the Denver loss.