Jan 9, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Nets center Johan Petro (27) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith (5) during the first half at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Injuries to Josh Smith and Johan Petro Leave a Thin Frontcourt for the Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith and Johan Petro will not be making the trip to Oklahoma City, which puts a damper on the hopes of the Atlanta Hawks to even their record at 1-1 Sunday against the Thunder. Josh had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks Friday against the Houston Rockets in opening day defeat at Philips Arena. Petro sat out due to a back soreness and will do the same Sunday.

This adds injury to insult considering the Hawks’ rebounding woes in their opener, getting manhandled on the glass to the tune of 58-36. Larry Drew refuted the claim the the ownness is solely on the bigs to rebounds saying:

“We didn’t do a good job on the boards. And it wasn’t just our big guys. Our perimeters were not in position to chase down long rebounds. Therefore it allowed them second opportunities. They are a big team, (center Omer) Asik he is a task because of his size, but there were a lot of rebounds we didn’t chase them down. That’s not on our big guys. That’s on our perimeters.”

This leaves only Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson, who didn’t appear in the first game, and Anthony Tolliver, who appeared mostly as a small forward in the same game.

The Thunder are expected to start Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins as their frontline, with Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet and possibly Perry Jones III as an occasional power forward coming off the bench. It will be a tall task to counter their defensive ability as a group, not to mention slowing down Russell Westbrook and three time scoring champion Kevin Durant. This may necessitate smaller lineups, with Ivan Johnson at the center as he capably handled last season.

The Atlanta Hawks are staring 0-2 in the face. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Johan Petro Josh Smith

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