The Atlanta Hawks will be looking to bounce back from a two-game slide Friday night and will also be trying to move on from a down right ugly performance in Tuesday's ugly loss to the Lakers.
Slow starts to games have plagued Atlanta in the early part of the season and that has been a key factor in each of the last two losses. Atlanta went into Cleveland last Saturday riding a four-game winning streak but was taken out early by the Cavaliers after the Hawks gave up a 41-point first quarter.
Instead of bouncing back on Tuesday, Atlanta allowed a struggling and desperate Lakers team to set the tone early with a 31-point first quarter.
"Games are not won in the first quarter," guard Kyle Korver said. "But they can be lost in the first quarter. We've got to do better at the start of the game. We've got to bring more energy, bring more juice."
The Hawks should get a boost on Friday with the expected return of DeMarre Carroll to the team's lineup. Carroll will be active and is expected to start per the AJC's Chris Vivlamore.
DeMarre Carroll will be active tonight and all indications are he will start vs. Pistons. #ATLHawks— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) November 21, 2014
Atlanta addressed those slow starts internally with what was called a "fiery" film session following Tuesday's loss.
"Coach is on us right now," said Elton Brand. "Coach is not happy right now, and he shouldn't be. It showed. It's us. We see what we are doing wrong. We see it on the film.
It is still very early in the season and its a little tough to label a game in November as a must win but you have to feel that it is important for this team to come out Friday night and play with a sense of urgency and a bit of emotion following two tough losses.
This Pistons team isn't that much different than the Lakers on Tuesday. They come in having lost three straight and at 3-9 are dead last in the central division. They are also not without their own fair share of internal drama.
Its a good sign that the players are taking ownership in these struggles and Paul Millsap cemented that point on Friday by saying its up to them if they want to be something other than mediocre.