Atlanta Hawks (30-16, 11-11 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (26-21, 14-10 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.9 (19th), Hawks – 111.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (6th), Hawks – 106.1 (12th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.3 (18th), Hawks – 91.1 (26th)
View from the enemy: Hoopinion
Hold it right there. Before you skim this and just see whose names are bolded, watch this. (I actually like this one better, courtesy of a DT reader who was at the game.) Watch it and get ready for this game. I anticipate Josh Smith to come out foaming at the mouth and to try and block a shot into Loud City to make up for it. I guess what I’m saying is, this should be a fun game.
There were a number of comparisons of the Thunder to the Hawks the last time the teams met. I don’t completely see it, other than the fact they’re both young squads. Which is going to make this one a blast to watch. Every cult, Free Darko Manifesto, underground NBA fan will be glued to their TV tonight to see this one. Length, athleticism, youthful energy, superstars and oh yeah, two pretty good teams.
Atlanta coming in: The Hawks have had a good long rest, having not played since Saturday where they lost 104-86 to Orlando. Atlanta has lost two of three but has gone 7-3 over its last 10. While an excellent home team, the Hawks are just 11-11 on the road.
Two matchups I love for Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook against Mike Bibby and Kevin Durant against whoever. First, Westbrook v. Bibby. Basically, Bibby isn’t near as quick as he used to be and Russ tears up slower point guards. Bibby is still incredibly dangerous from outside and what hurts is that Thabo can’t switch over to him because Thabo will be busy guarding Joe Johnson. Last game, Johnson scored 23 but on 10-23 shooting. That’s a huge matchup for OKC.
Marvin Williams will likely started on Durant, but Maurice Evans, Johnson and even Josh Smith will probably have a crack at KD. Other than that, it’s hard to see a lot of matchups going OKC’s way. Nenad Krstic had a great game last time, but that’s mainly because his jumper was working. With the size and athleticism up front for Atlanta, I would assume there would be a good dose of Serge Ibaka, who played extremely well against Golden State and had 10 rebounds in 24 minutes the last time the Thunder played the Hawks.
Atlanta plays a similar front court to OKC in that Al Horford really isn’t your “true” center, much like Jeff Green isn’t your “true” power forward or Ibaka a “true” center. The front line battle will be fun tonight because there’s going to be lots of jumping and dunking and running. The big factor is limiting Jamal Crawford. Last time, Crawford had 12 points on 4-14 shooting. He kind of drives the Hawk offense off the bench so unless someone from OKC can score with him off the pine (James Harden cough cough cough), then he could be what really decides this.
I’m psyched for this one. I wanted a 2-2 homestand and that’s already in the bad. Going 3-1 would be very nice. And I think it’s definitely possible. Atlanta is a great team but OKC matches up well with them and with this at home and the Hawks not being great on the road, it all kind of lines up for a good one.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Jeff Green’s Dunking Ability.