If I would have told you in October that the Atlanta Hawks would have the East's best record (and nearly the NBA's best record) in mid-March, you'd think I'm crazy. Yet that's where we are, and even more crazy is that with a win tonight, the Hawks would become the first team this season with 50 wins. Tonight's game tips off at 4:30 pm Pacific on CSN California and KHTK Sports 1140.
3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR
1. The Hawks are essentially San Antonio East. They've got a driving, penetrating PG in Jeff Teague, a defensive-minded unselfish big man in Al Horford, and a bevy of roleplayers who know exactly where they need to be and what they need to do. This team is not a fluke. They're 6th in Offensive Rating, 5th in Defensive Rating and don't even have anybody on the team averaging 17 points a game. There isn't a guy you can really point to on the Hawks and say "if you can stop him, you can stop their whole team".
2. Atlanta's a ridiculously good three point shooting team, ranking 3rd in makes and 2nd in percentages. Kyle Korver and his obscene 49.2% from three point range plays a large part of that, but the Hawks as a team have 9 players hitting at least 33% of their three pointers and 4 above 39%. For comparison's sake, the Kings have just 3 guys shooting above 33% from three (not including DeMarcus Cousins' 2 of 3 on the year) and nobody shooting above 39%.
3. If there is one area that Atlanta is weak it's on the glass. They're not a great rebounding team and they're actually one of the worst offensive rebounding team, mainly because their team is so perimeter oriented. The Kings are pretty good on the glass so if they can control the second chance points on both ends that could be a key to hanging in close with this tough Atlanta squad.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Al Horford vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Horford's as close to the heart and soul of this Atlanta team as you're going to get. The Hawks of this year aren't much different roster wise from the Hawks of last year aside from the fact that for the first time in a few seasons, Al Horford has finally been fully healthy. He's a gifted center who has the ability to win his matchup on both ends of the court, and he is not someone that DeMarcus Cousins will be able to easily push around. Cousins will have to bring his A-game and not get frustrated by what is sure to be a tough matchup.
Taking a look at the NBA standings,
don't like where I see the Sac Kings.
We play the Hawks?
Their record rocks!
Maybe I should just rewatch Lord of the Rings.
Kings 111, Hawks 97 in the "We finally get revenge for the terrible Mike Bibby trade" game