Date: December 28, 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
It is a somber day in Hawks land, given that the best player in recent franchise history, Al Horford, is out “indefinitely” with a torn pectoral muscle, but the music never stops in the NBA, and the Charlotte Bobcats are coming to Philips Arena on Saturday night.
The Bobcats enter the match-up with a 14-16 mark that has exceeded expectations, but at the same time, they sport a negative “net rating” for the season. Charlotte has defended very, very well under 1st-year head coach Steve Gregory, but their offense has sputtered, as they sit 29th in the league in offensive efficiency at 96.3 points per 100 possessions.
They are led by Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, and while Walker has a big-time match with Jeff Teague, it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Hawks handle “Big Al”. Without Horford, we’re likely to see a steady diet of Elton Brand (who will reportedly start the game) on Jefferson, but the entire cavalry will be available inside.
In addition to Horford’s absence, starting small forward DeMarre Carroll is a game-time decision with a sprained thumb, and if he misses the game, it’ll be an even bigger void to fill. My gut tells me that DeMarre suits up and plays, but that is purely a gut call, and we’ll see closer to tip-off.
Every day is Kyle Korver day in Atlanta right now, and Saturday is no different. Kyle will be looking for his 98th consecutive game with a 3-pointer (already an NBA record), and Charlotte seems to be another prime target for the sharp-shooting wingman. The Bobcats are middle-of-the-pack against the 3-ball this season at 36.5% allowed, but with the way Kyle is going, it will be a shock if he falls short of extending the mark.
The experts in Las Vegas had a tough task ahead of them in this one, but in the end, they made the Hawks a 5.5-point favorite, even without the services of Horford. For me, the Hawks are still as good (or better) than the full-strength Bobcats, and with the home-court advantage and built-in rest, it should be a chance for the team to come together in support of their fallen leader and grab a spirited win.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.