UPDATE: The Hawks have announced a return to their “normal” starting lineup, featuring Paul Millsap at the power forward spot.
Date: November 16, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass, MSG (New York)
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
Friday night’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers provided what seemed like a million fireworks, and it’s almost hard to believe that the Hawks are playing in New York on Saturday night. Less than a week ago, the Hawks and Knicks were battling on national TV in Atlanta, but the result wasn’t too favorable for Atlanta, and this is a chance at redemption.
New York enters Saturday night’s game in a similar predicament as they were on Saturday, as Tyson Chandler remains sidelined, leaving them short-handed in the frontcourt. Andrea Bargnani played over his head a bit on Wednesday night, and I would expect some regression in this game. It will be extremely interesting to see how Mike Budenholzer attacks this Knicks defense, having just seen them, and I’d expect a higher dose of Horford and Paul Millsap in the early going on Saturday.
Jeff Teague is the toast of Atlanta at the moment, after a career-high 33-point effort on Friday, but New York should put up a bit more resistance. Raymond Felton isn’t a terrific 1-on-1 defender, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the length of Iman Shumpert guarding Teague at times, especially in the expected absence of Lou Williams on the second of a back-to-back.
Stopping Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith will be crucial in this game (obviously), and that assignment lands on the entire compliment of wings and power forwards for the Hawks. In all honesty, neither player fully exploded on Wednesday in Atlanta, but there were enough 3-point binges to cause problems, and that’ll be the point of emphasis defensively.
The rotation is also something to watch here, as Millsap came off the bench on Friday (will that repeat?) and Williams was in the lineup (he won’t be here). Gustavo Ayon looked very good in his limited time, and with the nature of his injury, I wouldn’t imagine that he would be unavailable simply because of a back-to-back.
Our pals in Las Vegas have installed the Knicks as a 4-point favorite in their home building, and that’s not a surprise. However, I really like the Hawks in this spot (despite the back-to-back) as a team that matches up very well with the weak-in-the-middle Knicks. New York is down to 19th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (102.8 points per 100 possessions), and they are even worse than that without Chandler manning the middle. Look for the ball movement of the full roster and penetration of Teague to cause fits for New York in what should be a closely fought battle.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @ATLBeatBlog.