Update: The Hawks will be without Gustavo Ayon and Cartier Martin for tonight’s game.
Gustavo Ayon and Cartier Martin (ankle) are OUT vs. Kings tonight. #ATLHawks
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) December 18, 2013
Date: December 18, 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
The Kings are in town! The Kings are in town!
Okay, I admit that this current edition of the Sacramento Kings isn’t terribly exciting, but they are the next opponent for the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening at Philips Arena. Sacramento enters the game with a 7-16 mark on the season (yikes), and they are, without question, one of the bottom-tier teams in the league.
For further evidence, we turn to the more “advanced” stats, and they don’t lie in this case. The Kings are currently 22nd in the NBA in net rating, allowing 3.2 points more per possessions than they actually score, and the biggest culprit of that margin is their 25th-ranked defense. That bodes well for Atlanta, certainly, and if we take a look at the individual match-ups, it becomes even more clear.
First, the Kings were in the news recently for their acquisition of Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors, and while he’s been much better since the move (small sample size alert!), his efficiency leaves a lot to be desired. My educated guess would be that we see a lot of DeMarre Carroll on Gay in this game, as Carroll provides activity and length that will bother Gay, but Millsap, Korver, and even Mike Scott could see time at various points.
The center position provides the “match-up to watch” as DeMarcus Cousins is Sacramento’s best player. He is an absolute monster on the offensive end, averaging 22.4 points per game, and he has increased his aggressiveness this season, leading to over 8 free throw attempts per game. Cousins’ size is the biggest issue for Al Horford, as the former Kentucky Wildcat weighs in at 6-foot-11, 270 pounds. I would say that is a “conservative” estimate of his weight, also, and the pure size edge (in addition to Cousins’ 11 rebounds per game) presents some issues. That said, he has never been classified as a dominant defender, so Horford should be able to respond in kind with some production on that end.
The Kyle Korver traveling roadshow also continues tonight, as he attempts to continue his streak with a 95th consecutive game with a made 3-pointer. Kyle started slow (0 for his first 4) in Atlanta’s win over the Lakers, but it doesn’t get much better than this in terms of match-up, as the Kings are currently 29th in the league in opponent’s 3-point percentage at 38.9%.
Lastly, the point guard match-up (every game!) is very interesting here, as Jeff Teague squares off with the red-hot Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has been absolutely lights-out in a 3rd guard role this season, but after the Gay trade, he’s become a starter and deservedly so. For the year, the diminutive point guard is averaging 18.9 points and 5.3 assists per game in just 30 minutes, and his efficiency numbers (22.8 PER) are through the roof. In addition, he provides lightning speed that compares favorably to Teague, and it’ll be intriguing to see if Jeff can a) stay in front of him, and b) penetrate around him on the offensive end.
Las Vegas has opened the Hawks as a 7.5-point home favorite in this one, indicating that they are significantly better (in the eyes of the “experts) than this Kings team. It’s hard to disagree with that, especially given Sacramento’s 2-6 road record, and it would certainly be a disappointment if the night ended in anything but a decisive victory.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.