Initial Reaction: Hawks 95, Warriors 79

Quick Thought:  Won the game they are supposed to win---in a decisive way.

Summary:

Let's eliminate the 24-14 Warrior fourth quarter because, save for an embarrassing minute or so that Larry Drew had to dust off Joe Johnson and Al Horford, the Hawks needed only to play the other three quarters to remind themselves what winning feels like.

The Warriors are not a good defensive team, evidenced by their poor defensive efficiency and their especially bad O%Ast numbers, which measures how many assists they yield to their opponent per made basket. This stat, where the Warriors are buried in last, would indicate that if a team is patient and moves the ball, they will have great success. Warriors opponents score off of assists 64 percent of the time.

Atlanta happens to be 4th in the offensive end of that equation, assist on 62 percent of their hoops, good for 4th in the league. 

Such numbers indicated a Hawks offensive party, and they did indeed deliver. Atlanta, after passing the ball effortlessly and usually finding an open man, assisted on 65 percent of their baskets on the night. Horford and Josh Smith took turns scoring inside and out and Jamal Crawford scored early to give the Hawks an early double digit lead.

Still, one had to wonder how the Hawks would deal with Golden State defensively, given the firepower that Monte Ellis, Stephen Curry, and Dorrell Wright (who had a career high in Atlanta this season) can bring from the Hawks' Achilles heel, the perimeter.

The Hawks chased Golden State off the perimeter for those first three quarters with great success. The Warriors average 25 percent of their field goal attempts from behind the three point line. They hit those attempts with a league high accuracy of 39.7 percent.

Curry, Ellis, Wright, and Reggie Williams all are very precise from long range, averaging 7.3 makes on 18.2 shots per game (40%) out there. It's a huge part of their offense, especially considering they are dead last in Free Throw Rate, indicating they like to stay outside.

Against the Hawks, the Warriors didn't make their first three pointer until there was 2:33 seconds left in the third quarter. For the game, the team was 2-12, a .167 percentage.

The breakdown, literally for Warriors fans:

Curry: 2-7, 0-2, 7 points, 5 assists, 3 turnovers

Ellis: 7-21, 0-2, 16 points, 5 assists, 6 turnovers

Wright: 2-7, 1-3, 5 points, 1 assists, 1 turnover

With no Curry, no threes, and a ton of turnovers (13 in the first half) and the Hawks using Horford and Smith, as well as Johnson to overwhelm the Warriors offensively, it's no secret how the Hawks won this game easily--they executed their gameplan perfectly and disassembled their hosts in the process. Mission Accomplished.

The Stars:

Injured or not, Al Horford can still obliterate lesser teams and their weak defenders. Horford scored from the outside, as per usual, and ran the floor to get some easy scores inside as well. His 22 point, 13 rebound,  7 assist night was punctuated every time the Warriors fans groaned when he snagged one of his (5) offensive rebounds or made the Warriors pay for sleeping by moving the ball to find a (wide) open man.

Josh Smith took another bag of outside shots, but he was also instrumental in banging the boards early, getting inside, and abusing the smaller Warrior front line. Josh scored 10 of the Hawks first 14 points in route to a 26 point, 9 rebound, 4 assist night.

Also:

Kirk Hinrich got to feel like one of the guys in his first game as a Hawk. Not only did the guys yield to his free throw shooting excellence early on for a technical free throw, but Larry Drew provided a Horford Treatment special by sitting him with 2 fouls despite coming off the bench and only playing 5 minutes to that point.

Hinrich looked eager to show he belonged by staying active defensively, not being an automatic swinging gate to the lane on defense, and initiating the offense very quickly, save for the stab the ball fourth quarter run where the Hawks were trying to hold their breath until the final buzzer sounded.

Not to nitpick or look for something negative in a loss, but this was a terrible, terrible game for Marvin Williams. He started off on the wrong foot by getting a post play run for him early, given his size advantage. He didn't go at the hoop at all and instead tried to fade away, which was promptly blocked. His turned it over 6 times in his 32 minutes and only provided 4 points, 2 rebounds, and a lonely assist. He looked lost--there will be better games for the Stache, for sure, but this one lines the cage.

Jeff Teague looked good at times (6 assists, 3 steals) and off sometimes (3 turnovers), but it was good to see him get some regular run. His perimeter peskiness on Curry defined the Hawks approach early on, and he was pivotal in helping create some of those first half Warrior turnovers. 

Next Game: At Portland on Sunday, 10:30 PM---Hey, I'll stay up all night like tonight if they'll execute like this every night. Let's Go Hawks!

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