Game On: New Orleans Pelicans @ Atlanta Hawks
The New Orleans Pelicans visit the 31-35 Atlanta Hawks, who are riding a 5 game win streak. The Hawks may be hot now, but their recent win streak came after a devastating run in which they went 1-14. They are without their best player, Al Horford, but have still managed to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt (they are currently the 8th seed).
The first thing you need to know about the Hawks is that they shoot the lights out. Kyle Korver (who owns the NBA record for consecutive games with a made 3), Pero Antic, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, and Cartier Martin have all enjoyed effective perimeter shooting seasons. The Hawks take as many 3s as almost anyone in the league and they make a solid percentage of them.
I thought that it might be good to post a video showing how the Hawks draw out defenses, and How U (an excellent video follow on Youtube) had posted this one a while back.
Notice how well this play is timed- Korver curls off of a screen for a look and the defense is forced to give him an open look or to commit and leave the screener open. This could be very problematic for a Pelicans starting unit that will likely feature Stiemsma or Ajinca, as the Hawks start Pero Antic, a stretch 5. I had the fortune of covering one of Antic’s first games (the preseason one in Biloxi). He can play.
The Hawks’s ability to stretch the floor opens up a lot of things for Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, who have done a lot of the heavy lifting for the Horford-less Hawks. We saw Millsap have a huge game against the Pelicans earlier in the year. The guy is just so quick, even for someone like Anthony Davis. DeMarre Carroll is a very scrappy player who fills in voids and is another guy to keep an eye on tonight.
The good news is that the Hawks defense is pretty bad and that they do not protect the rim well. This should allow Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis to be fairly successful getting to the rim tonight (though I should note that Eric Gordon usually disappears after the 1st half most nights). The Hawks are also a horrible rebounding team, so the Pelicans SHOULD be able to avoid another drubbing on the boards after the Raptors put on a rebounding clinic last game.
With Davis back, this is a winnable road game.