USA TODAY Sports
The Hawks have had three days since their last game, a 92-75 victory over the Bulls on Saturday, and spent shootaround getting back into basketball form as they prepare for the Detroit Pistons.
The Hawks took Christmas Day off for the players and coaches to rest and spend the day with their families, but returned to the court for shootaround to get ready for the Pistons. The gameplan for the Hawks will be very similar to the one they used on Saturday against the Bulls as they will look to be aggressive on the boards and get out and run in transition, two things they did extremely well against Chicago. The Pistons present some of the same problems as the Bulls, with a very big, long frontcourt featuring Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe. With such a young front-court, the Hawks bigs know they will have to match the Pistons' energy on the glass, but they want to make Detroit adjust to them.
"I don't think it's necessarily what we have to do, but what they have to do with our lineup as well," said Josh Smith. "We know that they're going with a new big lineup that's been successful for them. We just have to be able to create mismatches on our end too. All in all, we definitely have to match their physicality."
"I think we just have to do a good job boxing out and getting those rebounds, especially those long rebounds," said Al Horford. "They're a team that goes to the glass pretty hard and we have to do a good job as a unit."
Horford will be matched up with Greg Monroe for much of the night, and discussed the challenges he presents defenders.
"He's just tough. He can score inside and out, and moves well for a big guy, so it's gonna be a challenge for us, but we just have to take on the challenge."
Larry Drew had not set his lineup by the end of shootaround, instead choosing to wait to look more at potential matchups. He has to decide whether to go small, which would likely involve Lou Williams to start again based on the groups used in shootaround, or to go big with Zaza Pachulia at the five and Smoove at the three to match the length and strength of the Pistons.
The Pistons have struggled this year, but have the length to pose problems for the Hawks if they do not play at a faster pace and get some transition baskets. Kyle Korver knows that pace will be a big factor if they are to take care of business against Detroit.
"Yeah, we'd like to get out and run. They're a really big and long team, especially with the lineup change. We've got to play physical and rebound the basketball. If we can rebound the ball we can get out and run, and if we get out and run I think we'll feel really good about our game."
As for what they did well against the Bulls, Korver felt it was their aggressive play on defense, which allowed their offense to get into a rhythm, and hopes they can carry over that intensity to tonight's game.
"I thought we just played really aggressive. We played aggressive on pick-and-rolls, we really got up the floor, and we rebounded the ball well. It wasn't like we changed our gameplan, we just raised the level of our intensity three or four notches, if we do that again tonight we'll feel good about where we're at."
Atlanta comes into the game with a 1.5 game lead on the Pacers for third in the East (who they play Saturday) and can give themselves a solid cushion if they can handle the bottom-dwelling Pistons tonight and the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday.