Atlanta Hawks (21-13, 9-8 road) vs. OKC Thunder (22-11, 12-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.7 (8th), Hawks – 107.0 (12th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.2 (17th), Hawks – 104.6 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.2 (11th), Hawks – 90.0 (27th)
View from the enemy: Hoopinion
Note: There have been some issues lately with the spam plugin I use holding normal posts for moderation. If while you’re chatting tonight that happens, I apologize in advance.
I don’t know what the deal is with Oklahoma City and New Year’s Eve, but it’s something of a tradition now. Well, maybe not a tradition seeing as the Thunder’s just 2-0 since playing here in OKC on Dec. 31. But that’s the key: 2-0. And with a good team in the Hawks coming to town to welcome in 2011, going 3-0 isn’t going to be easy.
Atlanta coming in: After going through a few rough patches, the Hawks have played well lately, winning four of five. They last played Wednesday, beating the Warriors at home.
Where the Hawks can rule this game is inside with Al Horford and Josh Smith, who’s actually playing small forward with Marvin Williams out. That weakens the Hawks a bit because Jason Collins will now start, but still, Horford has a big advantage over Jeff Green. If Williams were playing, Nenad Krstic would have Horford, but now it’s Green. Kind of a good/bad break for the Thunder. I imagine Scott Brooks will go with some different lineups tonight to try and suitably match up.
With Smith now at the 3, it means he’ll check Kevin Durant. Smith has the length and size to stay on KD, but where Durant can get him is running off screens and putting the ball on the deck. KD might have some trouble on Smith on the other end though. Should be a fun matchup. Durant will also get a good taste of Maurice Evans too I’d imagine.
Russell Westbrook should torch Mike Bibby, but much like Jason Kidd, Bibby is a good shooting point guard. Westbrook can’t get caught preying on passing lanes too much and leave Bibby open. The Hawks rely a lot on Joe Johnson to score who is back from minor elbow surgery. So of course Thabo will have to be good there.
Two former Thunder greats play for the Hawks in Etan Thomas and Damien Wilkins. MOTIVATION BOYS.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Happy New Thunder.