The Atlanta Hawks go for a season-best fourth straight win Monday night when they take on the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hawks have won 10 straight matchups in the series but its the Bobcats who are 2.5 games in front of Atlanta for the seventh spot in the East. Charlotte has won four straight and a win on Monday would put them back at the .500 mark for the season.
Atlanta has rebounded since losing 14 of 15 with a three game winning streak. The Hawks held on for a 97-92 win over Denver on Saturday after blowing a 21 point lead in the second half. Atlanta has been plagued by defensive lapses for over a month now and they allowed the Nuggets to make 12-16 attempts in the third quarter to get back in the game.
"Its tough when a team fights back on you and erases a big lead like that but to gather yourself and find a way to win speaks to the resiliency of the group," said head coach Mike Budenholzer. "I think that defensively we played well for big portion of the game and again the third quarter defense just wasn't where we needed it to be. That was when they were able to cut into the lead. We need to continue to focus and try and play defense for 48 minutes."
Atlanta has taken both meetings with the Bobcats this season. The Hawks won 103-94 back in November in Charlotte and needed overtime and an amazing circus shot from Pero Antic to escape with an overtime win at Philips Arena in December. Atlanta has struggled mightily on the road this season. They are 10-24 on the season and have lost 10 of their last 11 games away from Philips Arena.
Since returning to the starting lineup, Antic has given the Hawks a lift. He's averaging 13.0 points per game over the last four games. He, along with Elton Brand will have their work cut out for him on Monday when he matches up with Charlotte's Al Jefferson who has been on a tear.
Jefferson is averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds on the season. He's averaging 25.6 points and 10 rebounds per game since the All-Star break and is the focal point of Charlotte's offense. Jefferson finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds in the last meeting against the Hawks.
As good as Jefferson has been, its the Bobcats' improvement defensively under first-year head coach Steve Clifford that has been most impressive. The Bobcats are fourth in the league in points allowed surrendering 97.1 per game. They are sixth in defensive rating at 101.2.
Game Date/Time: Monday, March 17, 7 p.m.
Location: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM