Posted by: Kingsguru21 | January 19, 2010

Game #41: Kings at Atlanta Hawks

Well, I’m writing this up early because I’m going to be very busy (and won’t be able to watch the game until I get home after my night class) tomorrow, and what not.

The Kings are matching up against the athletic Hawks who killed the Kings in Kevin Martin’s last game until his wrist injury became official.

Not much has changed since. The Hawks continue to rip it up as they are one of the NBA’s most surprising teams (in terms of potency) so far this season. Perhaps they will continue to surprise, but tomorrow night it won’t matter. The Kings have problems with the Hawks athleticism, and tomorrow will be no exception. There is another lineup change that has Brockman and Greene inserted into the lineup (with Evans, Martin and Thompson the other 3 mainstays).

Atlanta is a slow paced team (24th in pace), have the 3rd best offensive efficiency rating (not good for our beloved Baby Royals), and the 12th best defense by the same efficiency rating. The Kings, conversely, are the 6th fastest team, 14th ranked offense and 26th ranked defense. Seems about right actually. (I thought the Kings offense was very much over-achieving early on. Now that they’ve come back to Earth, it seems right. Sadly.)

The Key Matchup is whoever defends Marvin Williams and Josh Smith. As good as Joe Johnson is, and he is very very good, the real key is how the Kings match up with Williams & Smith. Despite Smith’s “lesser” offensive stats this season, he actually has improved a great deal by only taking three 3 point shots so far this season. What’s really improved though, statistics wise, is that Smith is blocking more shots than he has the past several years. Now that Smith is playing PF full time that has probably helped him a great deal as much as anything. In previous years, he didn’t always want to play PF all the time and that hurt him. Apparently, this year anyway, Smith has decided he’s better as a PF and wants to play there. Sometimes, even though it’s not always true with every player, a player is better at a single position regardless of what other positions he can play at times. This is certainly one of the conundrums of Josh Smith.

Other than Smith, Williams and Johnson, you still have Mike Bibby (who has slipped quite a bit since his Kings heyday), and Al Horford (one of the most underrated NBA players today). That’s just the starting 5. Off the bench, the Hawks also have Zaza Pachulia (a reasonable reserve big), Joe Smith (ditto), and Jamal Crawford who is making his own push for NBA hardware by being the 6th man of the year.

I think the key offensively will be whoever is being defended by Bibby or Crawford. Both are awful defenders (both rate amongst the worst in the NBA), and as such the Kings have to take advantage of either guy. If that player is Donte Greene, he has to score inside to relieve pressure off Reke & Speed. If that guy is Martin, he has to play lights out until the Hawks adjust.

Defensively, I’m just hoping that mixing the rotations somewhat improves the rebounding (a must if you’re going to beat Atl), and that the rotations in the 2nd half are as good as they were in the 2nd half (according to Paul Westphal).

This game could be won solely off who adjusts best to the adjustments made in game. Which is true of any NBA game. So, the game is at 4pm PST, TV is CSNCA and Radio is 1140. Enjoy!

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Responses

  1. I don’t think we’re going to win this one, but still, if the guys put in it a good effort, they can try to steal this one.

    In the first game they were obviously superior, but we were in the game until the fourth quarter (having Desmond Mason on the floor, with Bibby guarding him didn’t help either). The Hawks are still superior, but so were the Nuggets.

    • All very good points Panz. I just wish I could watch more than a few minutes before I have to go to class. Such is life I suppose.

      • I think I’ll watch it tomorrow, not for sleeping reasons, but more for supersticion reasons…

        • I understand both reasons Panz.


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