San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview, Game Notes, & Prediction

San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview

The Good Guys’ Lineup:

The Bad Guys’ Lineup:

Who?: San Antonio Spurs (58 – 19) @ Atlanta Hawks (44 – 33)

What?: Spurs current streak (Win 1), Hawks winning streak (Lose 1)

When?: April 5th, 2011; 7:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

How?: SportSouth HD(TV), & 99X FM(97.9 radio)

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Injuries:
San Antonio: Everyone is expected to play.
Atlanta: Josh Smith is expected to be out to rest his knee.

Spurs vs. Hawks Season Series:

The Hawks will face the Spurs for the second and final time this season. In their first meeting, the Spurs beat the Hawks in San Antonio with ease 108 to 92. Last season, the Spurs and the Hawks split the season series 1-1, both winning at home. Can the Hawks make it happen again tonight?
Cool Facts:
  • Nick Van Exel’s last NBA season was with the San Antonio Spurs.
  • Jason Collins and Richard Jefferson were former teammates in New Jersey.
  • The Spurs are 8-6 on the road against Eastern Conference teams. This will be the last Eastern Conference team the Spurs will play this season (unless they make the NBA Finals).
  • The Hawks are 6-8 at home against Western Conference teams. This will be the last Western Conference team the Hawks will play this season (unless they make the NBA Finals).
  • The Spurs have lost 4 road games in a row.
  • The Hawks have won 3 home games in a row.
  • If the Hawks win this game, they will clinch the 5th seed in the East.

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What (or who) to watch out for:

  • The Hawks’ Defense. After having two great defensive games against the Celtics and Magic, the Hawks’ defense was nonexistent Sunday night against the Rockets. San Antonio is one of the best offensive teams this season, so the defense has to be more of what we saw against the Magic and Celtics and less of what we saw against the Rockets. Also, with Josh Smith most likely sitting this one out, the defense has to step up even more than usual.
  • Perimeter defense to be more specific. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is one of the best backcourts in the NBA, and as we all know, the Hawks perimeter defense isn’t exactly the best. Hinrich does provide more defense than Bibby did and he does improve the perimeter defense, but he can only guard one player. He can’t guard two capable backcourt players at the same time. I expect Parker to be somewhat limited tonight when Hinrich is guarding him, but Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford will have to play better defense than usual against Ginobili.
  • Big man rotation. With Josh Smith out, I expect Al Horford to slide down to Power Forward and Jason Collins/Zaza Pachulia playing at Center. Josh Powell could also play, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Powell has been inactive for six straight games and the last time he has played contributing minutes was in February.
  • Al Horford. Like I said, Al Horford will probably move down to the Power Forward spot, a position he’s more comfortable with. Blair and Mcdyess will probably be given the task to guard him and neither of them are that tall so I expect a good game from Al. A double double at least.
  • Jamal Crawford. With Josh Smith out, someone will need to step up their scoring. With Jamal playing a bit more passive this season, I expect him to be the one to be the aggressor and be the one to carry the scoring load the Hawks lose with Josh Smith out.
  • Jeff Teague. He had a good game against the Rockets on Sunday, will he get more minutes or does he still fall out of the rotation? I for one think Teague should play some good minutes tonight especially with Tony Parker and George Hill being scoring point guards.

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Prediction: I can’t say the Hawks win this one, at least not confidently. Josh Smith is out so the defense will already be suspect against one of the better offensive teams in the NBA. I say the Hawks lose, but I think the Hawks will make it a tough win for the Spurs.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Game Preview Jeff Teague Josh Smith NBA San Antonio Spurs

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