The Atlanta Hawks continue their western road swing in Sacramento Tuesday night where they will take on the 1-2 Kings. Atlanta opened the trip with a tough 105-103 loss to the Lakers on Sunday. The Kings fell to the Golden State Warriors 98-87 on Saturday.
Both the Hawks and the Kings have struggled defensively to start the season. Atlanta has a defensive rating of 104.9 which is slightly better than Sacramento's 105.1. The Hawks have been a much better offensive team with an offensive rating of 103.1 as compared to the Kings who are at 98.0. Small sample size aside, Atlanta has to do a better job of defending especially early in games where they have been torched in a trend that dates back to the preseason. The Kings may have struggled somewhat offensively but guys like John Salmons and Marcus Thornton have put up big numbers against the Hawks in the past.
On Sunday, Atlanta was a step slow in the early going allowing the Lakers to get open look after open look both in transition and in the halfcourt. Los Angeles hit 8-of-13 from the three-point range in the first half and the Hawks fell behind by as many as 21 points. Atlanta made adjustments in the second half and Los Angeles made just one more three point basket but, by that time, the damage had been done.
Take a quick glance at the matchups for tonight's game and DeMarcus Cousins' name quickly jumps off the page. Cousins is off to a good start and is averaging 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games on 47 percent shooting. Sactown Royalty's Tom Ziller points out that Cousins' shot selection has improved so far this season.
Al Horford will be called upon to do the heavy lifting against Cousins Tuesday night. Horford has drawn some tough matchups in the early going and, despite some uneven offensive performances, has put in some quality work defensively and on the boards. Al is averaging 12.3 rebounds per game and grabbed 16 more on Sunday against the Lakers. He also harassed Pau Gasol into a tough 5-for-18 shooting night. The Hawks will need a similar effort against Cousins.
Another area of concern for Atlanta is Sacramento point guard Isaiah Thomas, who has been brilliant through the first three games off the bench. Thomas is averaging 19 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 55 percent from three-point range. It will be paramount for Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder to make things as difficult as possible for Thomas and to not let him get in a rhythm.
Tip off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET and the game can be seen and heard on SportSouth and 92.9 FM "The Game"
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, November 5, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California
Radio: 92.9 FM "The Game"