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Game 52 Preview: Bobcats at Hawks

Who: Atlanta Hawks vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Hawks Home Game

When: 04/04/2012 at 7:30pm

Where: Live at Philips Arena in ATL

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Atlanta 31-23 101.7 (19) 99.9 (7) 91.0 (25)
Charlotte 7-44 94.7 (30) 108.0 (30) 92.5 (18)

Previous Meetings:
1/6/12 – 102-96 (OT) ATL – RecapBoxscore

1/12/12 – 111-81 ATL – RecapBoxscore

Atlanta: Al Horford – Out; Vladimir Radmanovic – Questionable
Charlotte: Corey Maggette – Out

Starting Lineups

Hawks Bobcats
PG Jeff Teague Kemba Walker
SG Kirk Hinrich Gerald Henderson
SF Joe Johnson Reggie Williams
PF Josh Smith Byron Mullens
C Zaza Pachulia Bismack Biyombo
6th Man Marvin Williams D.J. Augustin

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network
1- Byron Mullens has had a very impressive past 2 games as the starting PF, averaging 20 PTS and 11.5 REB. Tonight, he’ll go up against one of the best PF’s in the league, Josh Smith. Smith has averaged 26.5 PTS and 13 REB in two games vs Charlotte this season. Mullens vs Smith- who wins this matchup tonight?
Spencer: Mullens will have his hands full tonight. Success against Josh Smith will mean that Mullens has to keep Smith from getting deep position down low, lure him into taking him bad outside shots (which he will do), and keep him off the offensive glass. I’ve been every impressed with Mullens aggressiveness on the glass lately, going to get rebounds with two hands and actively boxing out. On offensive end, Mullens will likely be forced into taking many outside shots because of Smith’s athleticism- let’s just hope they’re dropping for ‘7-feet of smooth tonight.

Mathew: Josh Smiff (Ryen Russillo shout out) has been balling this season. Mullens may’ve held his own last night against Bargnani – especially on the boards – but I fear it could be a completely different story tonight. Smith is simply too physical and athletic for Mullens.

2- In the Hawks past 5 games they have shot just 28.6% (-8.6% season avg) from behind the arc. Should the Bobcats be focused on protecting the paint tonight and invite the Hawks to shoot 3’s, or is there much more to it in order for Charlotte to be successful?
The Bobcats have to rotate better defensively. This is the area they get beat on defense, consistently. On pick-and-roll sets, Charlotte is doing a better job of hedging higher on the pick, but there is still no rotation by the weakside defenders and that’s allowing big men to roll freely to the basket. Forcing ATL to take outside shots will certainly help Charlotte’s chances, but again, you can’t close off the lane without full defensive rotation.

Mathew: Protect the paint. Atlanta is the sixth best 3-point shooting team in the League, but I would happily trade shots beyond the arc for those in the paint. Hopefully Mullens’ perimeter play will convince Smith he should jack up a few at his 29% clip.

3- The Bobcats have been very competitive in the past 2 games- both on the road. Will the Hawks make it 3-of-3 against the Bobcats so far this season, or will Charlotte climb back into the season series tonight in Atlanta?
Hawks, but I think this game will be competitive and close for most of the game because of the fact that ATL has struggled on both ends of the floor recently. If the Bobcats can force the Hawks to become complacent on the offensive end, settling on ISO’s then they have a shot.

Mathew: Atlanta. If the Hawks were a stock I’d never be looking to buy, but I think they have enough to eclipse the Enron-like Bobcats tonight. Much like the last two contests, I see a competitive game ending in another loss.