The Atlanta Hawks made their way to Detroit on Thursday shorthanded but the situation certainly isn't as bad as it could have been. Both Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll made the trip although we won't know until sometime Friday whether either will be able to suit up against the Pistons.
After losing seven straight, the Hawks need both to play and play well. They have been decimated by injuries to the center position where Elton Brand remains as their only healthy option. They will face a formidable task against Detroit's front line that features both Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
The Hawks have struggled in nearly every facet of the game during the losing streak but they are going to have to pick things up considerably on the defensive end of the floor. Over their last four games, they are allowing opponents 1-6.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting. That simply isn't going to cut it.
Atlanta fell behind by 20 points in the first half Wednesday against the Wizards thanks to surrendering wide open look after wide open look. They got themselves together in the second quarter and pulled to within just a point in the third before running out of gas in the fourth.
The Hawks need a focused 48 minute effort and need to avoid falling into a deep hole early. Pace has never been more important to Atlanta given their current size disadvantage. During the losing streak, the Hawks have been very reactive to their opponents. They need to get back to being the aggressor and playing the game the way they want to play it.
Detroit comes into the game with their own problems. The Pistons have lost three straight to fall to 22-32. However, they are still only 3.5 games behind Charlotte for the final playoff spot.
The Hawks took the first two meetings back in November including a 96-89 win in Detroit. Former Hawks forward Josh Smith scored 11 points in the first meeting but was held scoreless in the second game after being held out of the starting lineup for missing a team meeting by then head coach Mo Cheeks.
Cheeks has since been fired and replaced by assistant John Loyer. The Pistons have gone 1-3 since making the coaching switch.
Game Date/Time: Friday, February 21, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Palace Of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM