Jan. 27, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Tracy McGrady (1) drives to the basket on Detroit Pistons small forward Austin Daye (5) in the first quarter at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

3/9 Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons Game Day Preview: All You Need to Know


Who?: Atlanta Hawks (6th in East) vs. Detroit Pistons (12th in East)

When?: March 9, 2012; 7:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit, MI)

How?: SportSouth HD (TV) & 680 AM (93.7 radio)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan Site, AJC Blog, Peachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

Detroit Pistons Blogs : Detroit Bad Boys (SB Nation), Need 4 Sheed (Unaffiliated)

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Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Kirk Hinrich | C: Zaza Pachulia | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Marvin Williams

Detroit Pistons:

PG: Brandon Knight | SG: Rodney Stuckey | C: Greg Monroe | PF: Jason Maxiell | SF: Tayshaun Prince

Injury Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery), Jason Collins (sprained left elbow), and Willie Green (back) are out.  Joe Johnson (knee tendinitis) is a game time decision.

Detroit: Charlie Villanueva (ankle) is questionable.

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Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (23-16) and the Detroit Pistons are (13-26).

Streak: The Hawks are riding a 1 game losing streak, and the Pistons are on a 1 game winning streak.

Away/Home: The Hawks are (11-10) on the road, and the Pistons are (10-11) at home.

Against .500 or less teams: The Atlanta Hawks are (15-4) against teams with non-winning records.

Against .500+ teams: The Detroit Pistons are (5-16) against teams with winning records.

Atlanta Hawks- Simmering down. The Atlanta Hawks are on a 1 game losing streak, but before that, they were riding a 3 game winning streak. I know the loss came against the Miami Heat, and it was a valiant effort, but the new (or old, depends on how you look at it…) Josh Smith trade rumors have me questioning how focused they are coming into this game.

Detroit Pistons- Starting to simmer. The Detroit Pistons are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, an overtime home thriller against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, before that, the Pistons were losers of 4 of their last 5 games. Let’s give the Pistons credit though, they have a bad record, but they have won 9 out of their last 15 games.

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Season/Past Season Series:

This will be second of four meetings the Pistons and Hawks will have this season.

In their first meeting, the Hawks won in overtime, thanks to Joe Johnson.

Joe Johnson led the Hawks in points that night with 30 points.

Josh Smith also contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks that night.

The Hawks have won the last 2 meetings in Detroit and the last 3 meetings overall. You can also say that the Hawks have won 9 out of the last 12 meetings.

Game Preview:

The Josh Smith rumors are back, and it came in a pretty bad time.

In the past 4 games, the Hawks have hit their stride. It really looked like they were on the verge of getting a good win streak for the month of March. They still could, who knows? But these trade rumors might take a toll on the chemistry in the locker room.

However, if I know Josh Smith, he’ll handle his business like a professional. He may be hot headed and he may be emotional, but one thing I’ve never questioned about Josh Smith, is his professionalism and his will to win. He’s still going to go out there and put on a show and play hard like he always does. His heart may not be (not saying it isn’t…) with the Hawks, but you can bet that he’ll work his butt off.

He definitely has to tonight, especially if Joe Johnson is a no go once again. I know the Detroit Pistons aren’t an intimidating team, but they have done well on their home court. The Pistons have won 7 out of their last 10 home games, and I’m sure the Lakers can attest to this, the Pistons are capable of surprising teams.

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3 Things I’m Looking Out For:

  • Josh Smith.  Trade rumors are appearing and it’s louder than usual, so it’ll be interesting to see Josh Smith’s demeanor and body language tonight. My guess is that he’ll still look like the same Josh Smith that we’ve seen the entire season, but I guess we’ll see if I’m right. Also, Josh Smith had one of his best all around games this season against the Pistons. Like I said above, in the last meeting, Josh Smith scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished 8 assists, and blocked three shots. A repeat performance like that would surely give the Hawks an advantage tonight.
  • Attacking the basket. One of the more known weaknesses of the Pistons is their defense inside. Asides from Ben Wallace, they really have no other player that can defend well in the paint. The Hawks have got to take advantage of that. The Hawks are capable of hitting their jump shots, but if they aren’t going in, the Hawks have got to go inside. They probably won’t have too much trouble doing so.
  • Larry Drew’s rotation.  Larry Drew’s rotations this season hasn’t been his strong suit. He has had some weird lineups at times, and at times, he tends to leave the bench players on the floor for too long. LD’s rotations has improved in these last few games (hence, the wins), but again, LD will have to figure out a rotation on the fly with a lot of players still questionable or doubtful.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Ben Wallace Detroit Pistons Josh Smith Larry Drew Tracy McGrady

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