The extra time off due to the winter snow storm in Washington that resulted in the Wizards game being canceled appears to have been just at the right time for the Hawks. Joe Johnson didn’t practice Monday due to flu like symptoms and in all likelihood wouldn’t have played against the Wizards. He did however make the trip to Memphis with the team. The news isn’t as good with ZaZa Pachulia. He is suffering from some sort of ailment to his hip and has remained behind in Atlanta. Mike Woodson told the AJC that they intend to shut Pachulia down until after the All Star Break. Lets hope that the rest will fix the problem and that it isn’t something bigger that is wrong.
Memphis is one of those dangerous teams like the Thunder that are capable of giving any team problems. After their 1-8 start to the season and the failed Allen Iverson experiment the team has played good basketball. Winning basketball. Their record stands at 26-24 and are chasing one of those last spots in the Western Conference Playoffs. They have taken care of business at home sporting an 18-7 record on the season. The Hawks defeated the Grizzlies earlier in the season 110-97 at Phillips Arena.
Zach Randolph has had a career resurgence in his first year with the Grizzlies averaging 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He has keyed an attack that has no trouble putting up points with athletic scorers like Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo. Any shortcomings they have is a result of bench depth as they have one of the worst benches in the NBA. The Hawks will have to look to exploit that with hopefully going on the attack and getting Randolph or Marc Gasol into foul trouble. The Hawks will also have to fight the urge to get in an all out track meet with this team and would do well to set the tone early by establishing itself defensively.
When playing the Grizzlies there will be open shots available. The Hawks must be patient enough to get the best shot. The last couple of games the Hawks have coasted through some quarters before clamping down on the Clippers and the Bulls. That might not be the best practice with a team like Memphis in their own building. You could find yourself down so much that a comeback isn’t possible. Should be an entertaining game to watch.