Date: December 13, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
Coming off of a wild, 101-99 overtime win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night, the Hawks have some nice momentum on their side as they arrive in New York for a back-to-back against the Knicks. New York has their own drama (our old friend Mike Woodson is on a blazing hot seat), but for the purposes of this, we’ll focus on the game itself.
The Knicks are an ugly 6-16 on the season, and because of the aforementioned turmoil, their “home court advantage” has basically evaporated as they’ve matched their road mark with a 3-8 record in MSG. New York is a dismal 24th in the NBA in “net rating”, allowing 4.1 points more per 100 possessions than they are able to score. The big reason for that negative disparity is their porous defense, as the absence of their one and only shot-blocker (Tyson Chandler) has sent them into a tailspin at that end. The Knicks currently sit 25th in the league on defense, allowing 104.7 points per 100 possessions, and they’ve honestly been even worse than that since Chandler’s injury.
In that same vein, Al Horford has a great chance to repeat his breakout night from Friday night. Al posted a 34-point, 15-rebound explosion in addition to his game-winner, and he gets the pleasant task of facing off against Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin, and maybe even Amar’e Stoudemire. Paul Millsap should join in the fun, also, and coming off of a rough, 6-for-17 shooting night, the Knicks could be the cure.
It seems as if we’ve been discussing the point guard match-up every night this season, but this is an instance where the Hawks have a clear advantage at the point. Jeff Teague will square off against Raymond Felton, and the portly point guard has been fairly ugly at times this season. It would be nice to see some early aggressiveness from Teague against what I can consider to be a lesser opponent, and with this being the first back-to-back of the season for Lou Williams (presumably), that would take some pressure off his backcourt mates.
Kyle Korver continued his streak with a 92nd straight game with a made 3-pointer last night, and he’ll, once again, be aiming to extend his NBA record tonight. One of the few things that New York has done reasonably well this year is defend the 3-point line, though, as the Knicks currently sit 10th in the league, allowing 35.2% from beyond the arc. Even with that, I would expect Kyle to springboard off of a good, 4-for-8 night from deep on Friday, and get this one out of the way quickly.
Last but not least, Carmelo Anthony is the biggest X-factor for the Knicks, and it’s DeMarre Carroll time. Carroll was deployed as a pure specialist against John Wall a couple of times on Friday night, but this time, he’ll get the first (and likely last) chance to guard Anthony all over the court. Carmelo is a physical player for his size, but if Carroll can force him to settle for contested jumpers, there is some success to be had.
Las Vegas has made the Hawks a 1-point favorite on the road, and that actually seems to be about right. Both teams are on back-to-backs and with the aforementioned lack of a home-court advantage for New York, Atlanta has been the much better team this season, regardless of venue. Atlanta will be looking to stay above .500 with a win, and with a nice, long homestand coming next week, it would be huge to steal a road game.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.