UPDATE: The NBA has announced a 1-game suspension for point guard Dennis Schröder after his “below the belt” shot to Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, and he will be absent for tonight’s game. This should promote Shelvin Mack to some secondary playing time, but also give Jeff Teague the additional pressure of dealing with Ty Lawson for more minutes.
Date: November 7, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 9:00 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (local), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
When we last saw the Hawks in action, they were hanging on for dear life in a 105-100 win over Sacramento on Wednesday, and while that was certainly a positive result, there’s not a lot of time for comfort as the team continues their West Coast swing this evening. The Hawks are in Denver, where the Pepsi Center houses one of the league’s most impressive home-court advantages.
Fortunately for the Hawks, the Nuggets have struggled significantly in the early going. Denver is 0-3 on the young campaign, including a wildly uncharacteristic 0-2 at home, and for once, their offense is to blame. The Nuggets were 5th in the NBA in offensive efficiency last season (107.6 points per 100 possessions), but this year, new head coach Brian Shaw has overhauled their offensive system (in addition to losing Andre Iguodala to Golden State and Danilo Gallinari to injury). So far, this has been disastrous, as Denver currently sits at 28th in the league, scoring just 92 points per 100 possessions.
There is too much talent (Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, etc.) for Denver to stay in the tank like this, but there are also considerable problems with “fit” (especially in Faried’s case) and the talent level isn’t quite the same as during last year’s 57-win campaign. As far as tonight is concerned, the big key to slowing them down on offense will be containing Lawson, and that responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Jeff Teague and
Dennis Schröder Shelvin Mack.
As far as the wing (usually the main defensive issue) is concerned, Denver actually doesn’t have anyone that scares you. The Nuggets backcourt rotation of Lawson, Nate Robinson, Randy Foye, and Andre Miller features a lot of scoring punch, but no one (aside from Robinson) is terribly explosive on the wing, and Nate will certainly be watched. Up front, Al Horford and company will have their hands full with JeVale McGee but the 7-footer is just as likely to do something laughable than he is to do something exceedingly productive.
The experts in Las Vegas have made the Nuggets 3-to-3.5 point favorite in this game, but I’m sure that mostly reflects the home-court advantage, as the Hawks have the more talented team. This is a very winnable spot for Atlanta, and it should be counted as an advantage to get the Nuggets on their home-court during this early-season transition. Stay tuned for more as the night moves along!