OKC Thunder (37-22, 16-13 road) at Atlanta Hawks (37-24, 18-9 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.3 (6th), Hawks– 106.6 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.9 (16th), Hawks – 105.6 (13th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.1 (12th), Hawks – 89.7 (26th)
View from the enemy: Hoopinion
Note: Kevin Durant is a game-time decision. He was upgraded from doubtful. He says he’s ready to go but it’s up to the medical staff. He participated in shootaround and didn’t have any setbacks. So it’s possible, but I’m sure the team is going to err on the side of caution.
Oklahoma City rolls into Atlanta after getting back on the good side of things against the Pacers. But there’s no room to pat yourself on the back. The Hawks are playing well and are a legit Eastern Conference playoff team, currently sitting fifth in the East. With or without KD, this won’t be easy.
Atlanta coming in: The Hawks have won three of four including a big win over the Bulls Wednesday.
The Hawks are dealing with injury issues of their own as Josh Smith won’t play tonight. Atlanta will play Josh Powell a lot to replace him, but might start Jamal Crawford and move Marvin Williams to power forward as well.
After trading Mike Bibby, the Hawks have become a stronger defensive team with Kirk Hinrich. He’ll have his hands full with Russell Westbrook though, who might be required to carry the load depending on Kevin Durant’s availability.
OKC matches up a lot better than usual with Al Horford inside with Nazr Mohammed and Serge Ibaka. The Thunder should fare well on the boards but the issue tonight will be scoring if KD is out. James Harden will slide into the starting lineup and will have to assert himself as the go-to scorer along Westbrook. OKC will lose something on the bench as Eric Maynor will have to play well. Ironically, here’s a game where Nate Robinson would’ve came in handy.
Obviously stopping Joe Johnson will be key as Harden and Thabo Sefolosha will draw the assignment. He’s Atlanta’s primary scoring option alongside Crawford and Horford, so limiting his looks is important.
The Hawks are a good Eastern team and but one the Thunder has played well against the past few seasons. If OKC is shorthanded it’ll be tough but we’ve seen Westbrook carry teams before and he might have another shot tonight.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go Healthy Thunder.