We're going to try an extended preview for tonight's game. It's a work in progress so please let us what you like and what you don't, so we can make it better in the future.
What Happened Last Time
First let's point out that illness plagued that road trip as Al Horford missed the game and Josh Smith was still recovering from a stomach ailment that hit him hard during the Portland game. The Hawks have made it through injuries before though. The story of the game was rebounding, foul shooting and in particular Harrison Barnes. Barnes had 13 rebounds and also contributed 19 points on 6-11 shooting and 6 makes in 8 trips to the line. Also standing tall was David Lee with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Still behind late hot shooting from Ivan Johnson and some timely baskets from Lou Williams and Josh Smith the Hawks made it a tight game ultimately losing by 4 as Jarrett Jack drained two free throws with 10 seconds to go to ice it.
Looking at the team stats you see that the Warriors shot 7 more free throws and made 8 more than the Hawks and dominated the glass 44-29 (10-5 in offensive boards). Their center platoon of Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins pulled down 6 rebounds in the absence of Andrew Bogut and got the better of Zaza Pachulia who only got 2 rebounds, but did have 4 steals. Ivan Johnson put in a very efficient 15 points on 7-8 shooting, but only gathered 4 boards and committed 5 fouls. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 10 boards, but he was outmanned the Warriors forwards. The reason the game was still close was probably the huge turnover advantage that the Hawks had by forcing 23 turnovers vs only 12 of our own. It wasn't just PG that the Warriors had trouble valuing the ball as 4 of their starters and their top sub had 3 or more turnovers each.
What Normally Happens
It's not going to be that good of a predictor each team has a significant change to its makeup from the last several years. Those would be the departures of Joe Johnson for the Hawks and Monta Ellis for the Warriors. The last 8 have actually been split 4-4 between the clubs anyway. Looking at the visiting Warriors first you'll find that their key players haven't had great success against the Hawks. Steph Curry has 6 career matchups with the Hawks averaging 15.2 points and 6.3 assists. David Lee has scored only scored 13.4 in 20 games against the Hawks (mostly as a Knick), but has averaged 10.2 rebounds. Klay Thompson has had really rough in 2 games only scoring 7.5 points per contest on 31.3% shooting (20% from long range). From the bench Jarrett Jack has averaged 10.4 pts per game in 18 games against the Hawks and Carl Landry has put in 13.0 pts per game in 9 matchups with the Hawks. Most of those games were accumulated with other teams and their respective roles may be different with the Warriors. With Bogut and Jefferson out the rest of the roster haven't seen the Hawks enough to develop a history. BTW, we may be dodging a bullet with Jefferson being out as he traditionally scores over 17 ppg on 51% when playing the Hawks.
The historical performances Hawks against the Warriors must start with Al Horford and not just because he's been out the last two losses against them. Al Horfod in 7 career games against Golden State averages 18.9 points per game which is by far his highest total against any opponent. And it doesn't stop there as he's good for 10.3 rebounds as well. Josh Smith has played the Warriors 16 times with 15.6 points per game and 8.7 rebounds to show for it. Lou normally notches 16.5 points and 3.6 assists in his 11 tries against the Warriors. Like Al, Zaza Pachulia also normally has some of his best games against the Warriors, his 8.8 points per contest in 16 career Warriors games is his highest against any opponent.
What's Been Happening Recently
The Warriors just had a big 5 game winning streak broken at Orlando last night. All 5 wins were in road games as they complete a 7 game road trip tonight. They are winners in 8 of the last 10 with both losses to Orlando. During that stretch David Lee has been the man with a steak of 5 straight 20 point 10 rebound games. The only other player to do that this season is Lebron James. The Hawks are just as hot winning 5 of 6 in a 9 day stretch and 11 of the last 13. The only losses during that time were to Miami and a buzzer defeat against Cleveland. As for hot players Al Horford and Josh Smith have each been named Eastern Conference player of the week once in the last month.
Briefly Why You Should Want Watch The Warriors Game
They're hot. They beat the Heat. Steph Curry is a dynamic player who is healthy right now (and that's not always the case).
What You Might See Tonight
As Al and Zaza have both enjoyed great success against the Warriors you might get to see some of the big lineup tonight. My reasons for thinking are the domination on the glass that the Warriors enjoyed last game and to get Harrison Barnes covered by Josh. Barnes was a beast at SF last game against our smaller wings. Maybe not for the whole game but at least for stretches it would interesting to see if a larger defender can keep him in check.
Philips Arena Concession Tip (if you're going to the game tonight)
Take the time and walk the extra distance to the food court. Your stomach will thank you as the hot dogs have been more miss than hit at the stands on the end this year. You can get much better grub for just a little bit more money in the court even if you still decide on a hot dog.
Possible Extracurricular Activity
We don't promote drinking games, but if you are inclined to do that anyway may we suggest that something that celebrates the Hawks going in the right direction. Last time we only got 5 offensive rebounds for the whole game. We need a better performance in that metric, so maybe you should celebrate each Hawks offensive rebound with a drink (if you are already doing something like that). A bonus clause suggestion: DeShawn Stevenson has 35 of his 39 made baskets from 3 point range this season making his likelihood of hitting a 2 pointer very low. If DeShawn makes a 2 pointer tonight, it might deserve a chug. Again we here at Peachtree Hoops advocate that you watch the Hawks responsibly and no when to say when even if Zaza might go wild on the glass tonight.
That wraps the extended preview. Enjoy tonight's game and Go Hawks!