Greetings! It is a highly abbreviated number of games this week, as the Atlanta Hawks play only on Wednesday and Friday before taking a crazy-long 4 day break in the schedule as things lead into December. Let’s take a look at the slate!
Hawks vs. Bobcats — Wednesday, November 28th — 7:30 PM ET
You’re probably asking yourself, didn’t we just see the Bobcats? Absolutely! The Hawks were able to go to Charlotte and get a 101-91 win last Friday, and the rematch will be in Philips Arena on Wednesday night. The Bobcats have played their best basketball in years to open the 2012-2013 season (at least until last night), and this is a spot where Atlanta must be careful. Charlotte is 7-6 at the time of press, and when they’re playing well, they’re dangerous. They are, however, coming off of one of the worst losses in recent memory, falling 114-69 to Oklahoma City on Monday night after trailing 64-24 at the half, and 79-25 early in the 3rd quarter. Those aren’t misprints. Yikes! Kemba Walker leads them in scoring at 16.6 ppg while his backcourt counterpart Ramon Sessions is averaging 16.4 ppg. Fortunately for Atlanta, Charlotte is nearly a mirror image of them in the backcourt as their three best active guards (Walker, Sessions, and Ben Gordon) are all small-ish combo guards similar to the stature of Williams/Teague. This is an advantage for Atlanta as they have the better players in this match-up and don’t have to adjust defensively. One thing to watch here is the deployment of Deshawn Stevenson. Stevenson played 36 minutes up in Charlotte, and I’d love to see that number come down significantly in favor of Teague/Williams and Morrow in a match-up where Charlotte doesn’t have a go-to wing scorer. This game should also be a field day for Al Horford and Josh Smith against the undermanned Bobcats front-line and big Al managed to have a 26-point, 13-rebound performance in Charlotte. This is a game that Atlanta should win in Philips Arena.
Hawks vs. Cavaliers —Friday, November 30th — 7:30 PM ET
Atlanta draws the “benefit” of facing this Cavs team without its best player in Kyrie Irving. Irving went down on 11/18 and hasn’t seen the court since, and that’s a huge loss for Cleveland as he was averaging 23 points and 6 assists a game prior to the injury. Anderson Varejao, with his 14-point, 14-rebound per game averages, is still around, however, and Cleveland can be a dangerous opponent. Replacing Irving’s production in the backcourt is a combination of rookie Dion Waiters, and the Jeremy Pargo/Daniel Gibson combination. Waiters can flat-out score, and he may be a match-up issue for Atlanta in the mold of a Dwyane Wade if he has it going. With all of that said, Atlanta is a far superior team in this match-up without Irving, and when playing at home, this is a game that should be won and won easily. Keep an eye on the glass in this one, as Horford and Smith battle with Varejao and 2nd-year forward Tristan Thompson for control. Any extra possession for Cleveland is a negative for the Hawks. This should be a fun one, and a good look at a young Cavs team, even with the absence of Irving.
To be frank, this is a week where Atlanta should win both games and press the current winning streak to 7 games. There is certainly danger of rust on Wednesday (with a 3 full-day layoff) and focus issues on Friday (with the Irving injury and a sparse opposing roster), but if the Hawks submit positive performances, there’s no reason they shouldn’t sweep the week and get into the long rest on a high note. Stay tuned for a great week of action!