Update #2: The Hawks have sent shooting Jared Cunningham to the D-League, according to a report from the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore.
Update: Bobcats center Al Jefferson will officially be in the lineup for tonight’s game, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Date: November 11, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 7:00 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
Coming off of a 10-point home win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night, the Atlanta Hawks are back on the road with a quick trip up I-85 toward Charlotte to take on the Bobcats.
Saturday’s balanced effort (especially on offense) was extremely encouraging for Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks, and the Charlotte defense should certainly reinforce that offensive strength on Monday. Coming in to the game, Charlotte is a reasonable 16th in the league in defensive efficiency (allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions), but after last season’s 30th-ranked performance, I am more than a little bit skeptical of their defensive prowess.
The Bobcats will likely be a full strength for this game, as well, as Al Jefferson reportedly practiced on Saturday and looks good to return against Atlanta. That will certainly help Charlotte’s 27th-ranked offense (and provide a challenge for Al Horford and company), but Jefferson’s presence definitely won’t help the Bobcats defense.
All is well on the injury front for the Hawks, leaving the full compliment of players available for Monday’s action. On Saturday, the team left Jared Cunningham as the “healthy scratch” for the game after Gustavo Ayon’s activation, and that would seem to be the most likely direction again on Monday. That said, it’ll be quite interesting to see how many guys Coach Bud decides to deploy, as Ayon, Elton Brand, and John Jenkins all received DNP’s on Saturday night.
Charlotte provides an interesting set of challenges for the Hawks. We already touched on Al Jefferson, but he would provide the type of quality (and massive) post presence that could bother Al Horford (and Pero Antic or Gustavo Ayon) a bit on the interior. On the wing, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can’t shoot (at all), but the combination of MKG and Gerald Henderson (one of my personal favorites) could give the Hawks a bit of trouble if the notoriously sketchy wing defense rears its ugly head. Paul Millsap (and Mike Scott, for that matter) could have a relatively easy time of it against the Bobcats power forward contingent, as Cody Zeller, Josh McRoberts, and our old friend Anthony Tolliver should provide little in the way of resistance.
The most dangerous member of the Bobcats rotation is probably Kemba Walker, and his match-up against Jeff Teague is the “one to watch” for this game. Walker, the former UConn star, is leading Charlotte in scoring at 17.3 points per game, but more importantly, his play-making abilities have markedly improved, leading to a very nice 18.1 PER through 6 games. For the Hawks to grab a road win, it will be crucial that Teague plays Walker at least to a standstill (if not better) to allow the other advantages that the hawks possess to shine through in full.
Lastly, our friends in Las Vegas have listed the Hawks as somewhere between a 2.5 and 3-point favorite in this game, driving the point home that Atlanta possesses a significantly better roster. With that said, the Hawks have struggled a bit away from Philips Arena this year, and the Bobcats have been feisty in starting the year 3-3, including a road win against the Knicks.
It’s tough to dislike this spot for the Hawks given their talent edge, but nothing is a given, and this should be a fun one. Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @ATLBeatBlog.