Time to Down the Hawks

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Published: March 9, 2009

After talking about Julian Wright v Byron Scott, it’s time to hit the game tonight.

Matchup: Hornets(39-22) @ Hawks(35-28)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 107.2(8th), Hawks 106.4(10th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 103.4(10th), Hawks 104.8(15th)

The Hornets kick off a four-game road trip tonight, visiting Atlanta, which is the only above .500 team on the trip.  It’ll be a good test to see if the Hornets are just beating the teams they should, or if the team is actually gellin’ like Magellen.

Unlike the Hornets, who have been making their run since the All-Star break, the Hawks have been breaking down.  They started the season 21-10, went 6-10 in January, 5-5 in February, and are 2-3 in March.  Much of that break down can be tracked to Atlanta’s slipping defense and poor shooting over those two months, and if there is ever an optimal time to try and get revenge against them for that early season defeat the Hawks inflicted on the Hornets in New Orleans, it would be now.

I can’t find anything anywhere about Peja’s status for tonight.  The last thing I saw was that he was feeling good and will most likely play, so we’ll go with that assumption.

Injuries:

Hornets: None
Hawks: None

Positional Analysis

PG: Mike Bibby v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Bibby can hit threes and doesn’t turn the ball over much.  Otherwise, he sucks.  Chris Paul, I hear, doesn’t.

SG: Joe Johnson v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Even
Before you burst your belly laughing at this evaluation, let’s actually take a look at what these two playcers have been doing over their last five(and both of them have been doing ablut the same over their last 15 as well)
Joe Johnson: 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1 steal, .4 blocks, 2.2 turnovers, 42% shooting, 5-17 from three, 18-23 from the line in 41 minutes.
Rasual Butler: 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, .8 steals, .8 blocks, 0.4 turnovers, 50% shooting, 10-25 from three, 17-20 from the line in 38 minutes.

Johnson is worse at everything but assists – where Johnson frequently is used as the defacto point guard for the Hawks, with Bibby serving as shooting guard.  Butler’s defense is at least equal, if not better, than Johnsons, although I have to admit Butler isn’t stuck in a backcourt with a completely inept defender like Bibby.  Now – Johnson is capable of bigger games than Butler, but for right now, I don’t see much difference here.  Even if we look at the season as a whole, for a team’s leading scorer, Johnson is pretty poor.  1.17 points per shot is really bad for a primary offensive option.

SF: Marvin Williams v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hawks
Despite William’s weaker shooting percentage from three, he is a much more efficient scorer than Peja due to his ability to finish at the hoop and draw fouls.  I’ve also been impressed by his improving defense, and that combined with Williams slightly better rebounding give him the nod over Peja.

PF: Josh Smith v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Josh Smith has never been a tremendous offensive player, typically getting his points on lots of crappy shots.  This season, that continues, but his ability to create chaos on the defensive end has fallen apart.  In all, Josh was a player I considered to be as good as David West last year.  This year, he scores less, rebounds less, assists less, blocks way less, steals less, and generally impacts the game less, but still plays the same 35 minutes a game.  Fluffy is better.

C: Al Horford v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hawks
Al Horford and Marvin Williams are the most efficient scorer in the Hawks’ starting five.  Of course, those two guys take the fewest number of shots.  Makes a lot of sense, eh?  I like Horford’s game a lot.  He’s not the rebounder of Chandler, but he’s not far from it, and he’s got a solid offensive game, is a nice passer, and is a good defender.  Tyson may be better at his specific categories: Defense, Rebounding and finishing the Oop, but Horford has a better all around game.

Bench
Advantage: Hawks
Maurice Evans, Flip Murray, and Zaza Pachulia are the three primary bench players for the Hawks, since Joe Johnson functions as the secondary point guard.  Murray can produce points, Evans plays solid perimeter defense and knocks down open threes, and Zaza provides some nice, solid minutes as a back up big man.  It’s a well balanced bench.  The Hornet’s bench is a collection of non-scorers and shooters with iffy speed.  Posey is decent, Julian might become more than decent, but the Hawks bench will be more effective tonight.

 

Enjoy the game.

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