The Atlanta Hawks look to avenge their worst loss of the season when they take on the Houston Rockets Friday night at Philips Arena. The Rockets handed the Hawks their worst loss of the season back in November 113-84 without James Harden. The win was Houston's sixth straight in the series. However, Atlanta is coming off of a big win on Wednesday and looks to hold serve back this time around.
A quick glance at the numbers and it reinforces how impressive the Rockets are. They play fast, attack the paint and shoot a ton of threes. They are seventh in the NBA in pace and fourth in offensive efficiency. They lead the league in free throw attempts and makes. They are as dynamic an offensive team as there is in the league and that is best exemplified by their best player James Harden who is on a tear of late.
Harden is averaging 37.7 points over his last three games while shooting 53 percent from the floor. He's attempted at least 10 free throws in each of his last three games and has torched the Hawks in the past. Slowing him down will be priority one for Atlanta.
The Rockets showed in the first meeting just how dangerous a team they were when they still blew out Atlanta without Harden. Dwight Howard has quietly put together a great season averaging 17.8 points and 12.9 rebounds. Chandler Parsons continues to play at a high level and Jeremy Lin has been solid at the point guard position.
The Hawks need to duplicate their effort from Wednesday if they are going to have a chance against the Rockets. Atlanta turned in a spirited defensive performance that help spark an offense that has struggled since Al Horford was lost to injury. Atlanta helped force Indiana into 20 turnovers on Wednesday and the Rockets have committed the third most turnovers in the league this season. Playing aggressive defensively could lead to steals and easy looks on the offensive end.
Its redundant to suggest that Atlanta needs a big game from Jeff Teague to be successful because that always seems to be the case. He does drive the offense and an aggressive Teague is usually a good thing for the Hawks no matter what his final numbers look like.
The Hawks could catch a break as Parsons is currently listed as questionable with a sore knee. He sat out Wednesday's win over the Lakers. The Rockets will also be without center Omer Asik and guard Patrick Beverley. Atlanta is relatively healthy despite a season ending injury to Al Horford and John Jenkins who remains out due to a back issue.
Game date/time: Friday, January 10, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM