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Preview and Game Thread #3: Atlanta Hawks @ Los Angeles Lakers

Atlanta Hawks 09-10 Season Game #3

@ 300px-la_lakers_logosvg_medium

STAPLES center
Nov. 1st, 2009, 9:30 PM
Fox Sports South, Hawks Radio Network, NBA Audio League Pass
Probable starters:
Derek Fisher
PG Mike Bibby
Kobe Bryant SG Joe Johnson
Ron Artest
SF Marvin Williams
Lamar Odom
PF Josh Smith
Pau Gasol C Al Horford

Hawks Injury Report: None.

Lakers Injury Report: Pau Gasol is out.

Blogging With the Enemy: Silver Screen and Roll

Predicted bane of the Hawks existence: Ron Artest. There was a game two or so years ago when Artest was in Sacramento. He owned us, went to the free throw line about 100 times. Now, Ron desperately wants a breakout game. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Game Preview:

I have long thought, as long as Gasol or Andrew Bynum were out of the game, the Hawks actually matched up very well with the Lakers. And for at least the last four or five games, it seems one of those guys has always been out, and the Hawks have played well. Derek Fisher did not exploit Mike Bibby's defensive issues. Pre last year's tough guy Pau from the final, Horford always found great success banging inside. Joe Johnson seemed to rise to the occasion of playing against Kobe. The Lakers were always the better team, but the games were close. The past two years, the Hawks even grabbed a win each season.

While I am not a fan of the Ariza for Artest switch off, I do think it helps this match-up for the Lakers. Artest can give Kobe some reprieve against guarding Joe. All the quickness issues Ron now has guarding twos are not there because Joe drives to the basket slower than most people sleep walk. And guarding Artest, if he chooses to run his offense in the post, is going to be exceedingly challenging. Ron has lots of tricks and moves that I can see Marvin and Josh falling for straight to five fouls and 28 minute days.

5 Keys to the game:

  1. Hawks shoot more free throws. Atlanta has to be the more aggressive team. Period.
    Mike Bibby breaks out. He hates the Lakers. Might as well show it with a good game.
    No Black Mamba. I am fine with Kobe Bryant going for 28. Just not 40. Most people say that they are fine with a team's best player getting his and they will shut down the other guy. Kobe is not one of those guys. He will beat you by himself.
    Ball movement. The Hawks will probably go down big at some point this game. Just like first two, they cannot panic and deteriorate to out athleting the other guy in one on one basketball. If the team plays within themselves, they should have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. That is refreshing to write and mean it.
  2. Zaza gives his best minutes of this short season. We need his rebounds and we need his defensive annoyance focused squarely at Andrew Bynum.

The Lakers have clearly not come together yet as a team. When they do, they will be a top four team. Here is hoping the chemistry stays away for at least one more day.

See you in the game thread until I fall asleep on my couch.

Go Hawks!