Greetings! The Hawks are coming off of a 4-game week, and the schedule is a bit unusual following a Sunday tilt in New York. Let’s break down the two games to come.
Hawks vs. Raptors — Wednesday, January 30th — 7:30 PM ET
Hello, Toronto. This is the first match-up with the Raptors this season, and they are a welcome sight in Philips Arena. Toronto is currently 16-28 on the season, and while they are top-10 in the league in offensive efficiency (103.9 points per 100 possessions), their defense lands in the bottom five (allowing 105.3 points per 100) and this should be an opportunity to get the offense going. In the absence of Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas, they’ve turned to Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, and while those two guys are playing pretty well, they are void of talent behind them and that’s a front-court advantage for Horford, Smith, and Pachulia. On the perimeter, Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon form a solid point guard duo, but the wing is a weak-spot for Toronto outside of DeMar Derozan, and because of their gaping holes on defense, it could be a field day for Korver and company from the three-point line. This is a perfect opportunity to grab control of a home game early to reverse the trend of falling behind and having to claw back. It should, at the very least, be entertaining.
Hawks vs. Bulls — Saturday, February 2nd — 7:00 PM ET
In the last meeting between these two teams, the Hawks scored 58 points, broke a franchise-record for futility, and an NBA record for ineptitude through three quarters. We all know that Chicago’s defense under Thibodeau is outstanding, but it isn’t that outstanding, and there should be a level of revenge on the minds of the Atlanta roster here. This is basically the opposite of the Toronto game, as Chicago’s offense is only 20th overall, but with a top-3 defense, this game could be played in the 80′s. It is important for Larry Drew to get Horford and Smith established early, as the Chicago front-court triumvirate of Noah/Boozer/Gibson can really be a force if they establish the tone. It will come down to whether Atlanta can score efficiently, and it would really help to get a productive game from Jeff Teague as he faces off with Chicago’s biggest weakness at the point guard spot. Oh, and it’s another opportunity to see Teague vs. Teague. That helps with the entertainment quotient.
After a crazy, riveting four-game week, it’s kind of a downer to see only two games on the slate. Even so, they are both at home, and 2-0 is absolutely the goal for this week, especially with two full days off before both games. This is a perfect time to get healthy, and it’s a “taking care of business” spot for this Hawks team.
Stay tuned and enjoy!