Opponent: Atlanta Hawks (14-9)
Opponent Season Efficiencies:
Previous Meeting: 88-83 Atlanta (on 11/21) – Recap
The Hawks continue to surprise, showing their hot start was not the fluke some may have believed. At 14-9, Atlanta enters tonight's game 4th in the East. Let that sink in – 8th in the East last year, widely predicted to drop this year after losing Josh Childress, and they are more than holding down the fort, despite missing Josh Smith for a chunk of games. Impressive.
That is a good way to describe their team, with a starting lineup of Al Horford, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and Mike Bibby – impressive. Outside of Mike Bibby, that is an athletic, “long” squad. Their results on the court have been solid, with a net efficiency of +10.7. How they achieved that mark is a bit surprising though, as despite their athleticism and size, they have been below average rebounders (this lineup in particular, but also as a team): This group grabs just 20.3% of available offensive rebounds and 70.8% of defensive. Contrast that to Charlotte, regarded as a very poor rebounding group, with team marks of 28% and 71%. Not the discrepancy I expected when I looked at the numbers, to be sure. What this 5-some for Atlanta does very well is protect the ball, with turnovers on only 11.7% of possessions, and create for each, with an assist rate of 25.8%.
In the last game, Gerald Wallace dominated the first quarter, but faded as the game progressed. For the Bobcats to pull out the win, a game long effort from Gerald is going to be needed. Additionally, the twin point (Ray and D.J.) attack was still in the early stages last game, and sort of struggled, but it was also the night D.J. Augustin announced himself to the league, with 26 points, including 7 made threes. Obviously, anytime he or Raymond are hot from the perimeter, it improves the Cats odds.
I did a bit of a preview for the game with the Hawks nba.com page – Hawks-Bobcats Preview on NBA.com. Check it out – some is redundant, about the recent trade, but maybe I have a couple of original thoughts in there.