UPDATE: Rockets head coach Kevin McHale has reportedly indicated that Chandler Parsons is “doubtful” for tonight’s game.
McHale says he considers Parsons “doubtful” for tonight’s game.
— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) January 10, 2014
Date: January 10, 2014
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
After an incredibly impressive win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the Hawks are back in the saddle on Friday night against another top-shelf opponent in the Houston Rockets. Houston is the polar opposite of Indiana from a stylistic perspective, though, as they are a terrifying offense with a semi-questionable defense, and on paper, that is potentially a better match-up for the Hawks.
The Rockets are currently 4th in the NBA in offensive efficiency (scoring 107.6 points per 100 possessions), and they are led by the duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard. Harden is one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, and he’s one of the league’s most efficient scorers while using a unique blend of tactics. Both Harden and Howard rank in the top-3 of the league in free throw attempts (both take 9+ per game), but Harden is a very good shooter from the stripe, which helps him to build 24.9 points per game. I would imagine that DeMarre Carroll gets the nod on Harden for the majority of the night, and hopefully, Carroll’s length could give the young wing fits. Still, Harden has been insanely hot lately, scoring 35+ in three straight games, and it’s a tough task for anyone to assume.
In the case of Howard, Atlanta fans know the story better than most. Dwight is a native of the city, having come straight out of high school to the league in 2004, and there was (faint) hope that he could sign in Atlanta last off-season. He’s a match-up nightmare for the current version of the Hawks (sans Horford), and the big man is having a bounceback season, averaging 17.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. Elton Brand (and to a lesser extent, Pero Antic) did a fantastic job against Roy Hibbert on Wednesday, but Howard is a bit of a different animal offensively, and it’s a unique challenge.
Houston could be without arguably their 3rd-best player in this game, as forward Chandler Parsons is questionable with knee issues. The 25-year-old missed Houston’s game on Wednesday, and it seems as if he’ll be a true game-time decision for tonight’s game. If the Rockets don’t have Parsons, they’ll be losing a ton of flexibility offensively (as well as 17+ points per game), and they become a much more pedestrian offensive team without him.
As we always discuss (this is a good thing), Kyle Korver will be aiming for his 106th consecutive game with a made 3-pointer. Many have opined that the Korver streak is either boring or uninspiring, but for me, it’s wildly impressive. Indiana presented (easily) the biggest statistical challenge for Kyle, but he flew past it, and Houston is much closer to league average in 3-point percentage allowed (35.4%), which should allow for an easier night.
Lastly, the Hawks could really use a big-time effort from Paul Millsap in this game, and he’s undeniably been struggling recently. In the past four games, Paul has shot a combined 13-for-54 from the field (24%), and there have been some whispers of his “issues as the number one option”. I don’t subscribe to the opinion that Millsap’s rough patch is fully attributed to a change in status, but he could do a lot to quiet doubters with a big game against Terrence Jones and company on Friday.
Because of the Parsons injury, it’s a bit difficult to get the Las Vegas perspective on the game, but a few places have installed the Rockets as between a 3 and 3.5-point favorite. That spread could easily shift a bit if Parsons is ruled out, but either way, the Hawks have a tough task despite this game being at home.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night (follow us on Twitter at @ATLBeatBlog), and a full recap to follow.