OKC Thunder (20-4, 6-2 road) vs. Atlanta Hawks (15-7, 8-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 114.1 (1st), Hawks– 104.3 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.8 (10th), Hawks – 101.1 (4th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.0 (15th), Hawks – 92.3 (10th)
View from the enemy: N/A
The Thunder have lost to four teams this season. One of those teams was the Atlanta Hawks. That game seems like forever ago, but with the Thunder riding an 11-game winning streak and taking off to play a tough road game, OKC’s obviously in for a challenge.
The Hawks weren’t billed as that tough a team before the season, but they’ve exceeded expectations as they’ve found serious footing in their defense. Al Horford is terrific, Josh Smith is playing well, their guards are providing enough backing and they have a solid bench. They’re well built and definitely a team that could threaten OKC’s streak.
Surviving these back-to-back games with the win streak intact is going to be a challenge.
Atlanta coming in: The Hawks beat the Wizards last night.
1. Roadie. It’s been a while since I’ve had to watch the Thunder on TV. Do they broadcast games somewhere? How do I watch? It’s the start to a mini-trip for OKC and while Atlanta isn’t known to be a super tough place to play, it’s never easy to get the energy up on the road.
2. Defending Horford. Kendrick Perkins in known for his defense, but against a guy like Horford, he could have issues. Perk defends the post well, not anything outside of it. And Horford is an excellent pick-and-pop shooter, so Perk can’t fall asleep and let Horford have those 17-foot jumpers or he’ll punish OKC.
3. Benches. Lou Williams is Atlanta’s scoring anchor off the bench and those minutes in the second and third quarters could be key. Can either team build or maintain a lead? OKC’s bench has been better the past few weeks, but Atlanta has a good one, so this will be a test.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go Twelve.