Game On: Hornets @ Atlanta

Published: January 21, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(27-16) @ Hawks(28-15)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 102.6(19th), Hawks 105.2(12th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 99.6(4th), Hawks 102.2(10th)

As always, thanks to Dariusz Ejkiewicz for the gameday banner!

As the furor over Stephon Marb – er – Derrick Rose and his high-scoring game in Chicago grows more intense, the eastern conference has reached a tipping point.  With Miami, Chicago, and Boston to focus on, there isn’t much time to for the national media to concentrate on anyone else.  Sure, Orlando gets a look here and there because of their aggressive trades and Dwight Howard, but the other good eastern team, the Hawks, goes completely overlooked.

It doesn’t help they don’t have an actual superstar.  It also doesn’t help that there isn’t anything in Atlanta a sportswriter can sink his teeth into and write about.  They don’t have a stellar defense, ranking 10th in the league.  They don’t have a stellar offense, ranking 12th in the league.  What do you write?  Hawks Slightly Better Than Average At Everything!  Imagine the web traffic that would generate.

Still, the Hawks remain a very good team with some remarkable talent.  They retain edges over the opposition at effective field goal percentage, free throw rates, and turnovers.

Their only weakness is on the offensive boards, and that has to do with their shot selection.  Atlanta takes the third most long two-point shots in the league.  Happily for them, they make the second highest percentage of those shots, but standing that far from the basket makes it hard to rebound – so there’s little wing or guard support on the glass.

That gives Okafor and West an opportunity to make an impact in this game by crashing the glass and keeping Atlanta one and done on their posessions.


Hornets: None
Hawks: Marvin Williams is struggling with a back injury, but returned to practice yesterday.  I expect he will play.

Positional Analysis

PG: Mike Bibby v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Even with a bad wheel, Chris Paul versus Mike Bibby is like a Gray Warden facing a Hurlock.  Or Commander Shepherd facing a Geth.  Or Revan facing an assault droid.  Is that enough Bioware references?  Anyone else intensely excited for Dragon Age 2?

SG: Joe Johnson v Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Hawks
Joe Johnson will play most of the game, and will get turns checking and scoring on every member of the Hornets three-headed shooting guard stable.  Johnson has been having an extremely ineffective year shooting the ball, but he’s still an effective all around player, and I doubt this position will swing the Hornets way.  Marco should help him keep up his ineffective scoring, but I wonder which Marco we’ll get tonight.  1-6 Marco, or 4-7 Marco?

SF: Marvin Williams v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Even
Williams had a good game against the Hornets in December, displaying surprising versatility in scoring in the post, on the break, and from deep.  I have a hard time imagining him repeating that performance, particularly with a balky back.  Trevor, of course, had a bad offensive game last game.  I’d like to say that means he’ll probably have a good one this game, but that would assume any sort of offensive consistency from Ariza.  I can’t do that.  It is still nice that we can always  expect stellar defense from Ariza, though.  In past years, our wings wouldn’t even give us that on a bad shooting nights.

PF: Josh Smith v David West
Advantage: Even
This matchup swings entirely on which Josh Smith shows up.  Smith is a better defender than West.  His offense, however, swings wildly from highly effective to extremely terrible, and is entirely based on whether Smith is attacking the basket or shooting jumpshots.  Last game Smith took lots of terrible long jumpshots and hit none of them.  If he’s taking long shots tonight, this matchup swings strongly in Fluffy’s favor.

C: Al Horford v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hawks
Al Horford has declined some from an extremely strong opening month of the season, but he’s still a load in the paint.  He does just about everything well, scoring efficiently, rebounding, passing, and rarely turning over the ball.  He even blocks a shot here and there.  Okafor’s been playing well over the last month, but I struggle with the idea he’ll be able to outplay Horford in the end.


Jamal Crawford, Josh Powell, Zaza Pachulia, Maurice Evans, Damien Wilkins VS
Jarrett Jack, Marcus Thornton, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Quincy Pondexter, Aaron Gray
Advantage: Hawks
The Hawks have a dependable scorer off the bench in Jamal Crawford, a decent backup big in Pachulia, and some nice defenders scattered through the rest of the bench.  The Hornets are hoping that either Jack or Thornton will be able to match Crawfords attack, because if that’s the case, this advantage for the Hawks is limited.

Enjoy the game!

Oh, and who gets to attack me first for comparing Marbury to Rose?


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