Not only have the Atlanta Hawks lost three games in a row they have done so in disappointing fashion. Back-to-back home losses to Boston and Orlando combined with a blowout in Houston has Mike Budenholzer's team reeling. The culprit largely is a sputtering offense that in recent games is placing too much pressure on what is already a creaky defense.
Since scoring 100 points in nine of the first 10 games, the Hawks have been held under the century mark six straight including a season-worst 84 points Wednesday against the Rockets. Jeff Teague has spearheaded Atlanta's attack through the early part of the season but we are starting to see teams make adjustments to him. Teams are trying to take the ball out of Teague's hands and are filling the paint to cut off driving lanes.
Atlanta would be well served to lean on their frontcourt combination of Al Horford and Paul Millsap to take some of the pressure off of Teague. They could also get a shot in the arm if Kyle Korver and Lou Williams return to action after sitting out Wednesday's game.
Korver suffered a rib contusion in Tuesday's loss to the Orlando Magic and didn't travel with the team to Houston. He is listed as day-to-day and his status will likely be updated after the team's shootaround or during the pregame. Williams is still on a back-to-back restriction since returning from ACL surgery but could be available on Friday night.
The Mavericks are coming off of a 103-99 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. Monta Ellis scored just four points in that game and was 2-16 from the floor. That is a far cry from what he did to the Hawks in the season opener. Ellis scored 32 points on just 17 attempts in the first meeting between the two clubs and slowing him down will be key for a Hawks win.
In the opener, Coach Budenholzer elected to have Teague guard Ellis and Korver chase Jose Calderon. If Korver is unable to play, he could turn to either Williams or Cartier Martin to start and help chase Ellis. Several Hawks including Teague, Martin and DeMarre Carroll are likely to all get opportunities against Ellis.
Atlanta is facing adversity for the first time this season and you could see frustration on many of the player's faces in the loss to Houston. A home victory on Friday night would be big with trips to Washington and San Antonio looming.
Tip off from Philips Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on SportSouth and heard on 92.9 FM "The Game."
Game date/time: Friday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 FM "The Game"
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