After taking on one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks return home to take on one of the best teams in the west, the LA Clippers. The Clippers have been on a tear recently, winning seven in a row and eight of their last nine games.
They have accomplished this by being the best 3-point shooting team in the league, making 42.3 percent of their attempts. They are also the best free-throw shooting team in the league, making 84.1 percent of all attempts.
They appear to be without a weakness offensively as they are also the number three team in the league from the floor, shooting at 48.5 percent. They take the second-lowest field goal attempts per game but that is not a problem for this team as they make them when their stars play.
The Atlanta Hawks need to play their own game.
However, it was announced that both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will be out for the Hawks game due to health and safety protocols per Belacher Report. This means the Clippers will be relying on Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Lou Williams.
This would still be a solid starting five in the league but is a totally different proposition to taking on a perennial MVP candidate in Leonard and his superstar offsider in George. As an added benefit Patrick Beverley is also out with a knee injury.
This means that De’Andre Hunter needs to back up his 33 point effort, John Collins needs to be a beast again like he was against the Bucks. If the Hawks can get either Trae Young or Clint Capela back (both would be better) then this is certainly an advantage for the Hawks
Atlanta Hawks key lineup question No. 1) Who starts at the two-guard?
I originally had Cam Reddish starting against the Clippers due to his defensive prowess. However, with the change in lineup for the Clippers, Kevin Huerter should once again get the start. While he has struggled a little bit over the last two games it is good to see what he can do.
Reddish again struggled from deep against the Bucks and needs to develop his confidence at the offensive end of the court. Doing that against a weakened Clippers bench will be easier than against starters, keen to prove their worth with the stars out.
Atlanta Hawks key lineup question No. 2) The frontcourt conundrum
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The Clippers are solid in the frontcourt with Ibaka and Ivica Zubac. The question for the Hawks is a simple one, is Clint Capela playing. If he does play then things become easier for the Hawks. He is a dominant presence in the middle and will help change the way the Clippers play.
If he does not play do they start John Collins in the middle with Danilo Gallinari beside him in an effort to space the floor and put an all-out offensive push against the Clippers? Or, do they start Onyeka Okongwu to try and have the defensive presence in the middle, he had three blocks in his first start.
Okongwu was reasonable at the start of the Bucks game, giving away a silly foul but also taking a charge against the two-time MVP, Giannis Antentokounmpo early in the game. If the Hawks want to develop the No. 6 pick, this is a good game to do it, if Capela does not play.
He was limited to just 16 minutes against the Bucks due to foul trouble but will be better for the start. If Capela and Gallinari don’t play, as they are listed as questionable, then Okongwu will get his second start.