On Tap: The Atlanta Hawks

 —  February 7, 2005

Sorry if this is a little bit of a short, down and dirty preview/post today, but I’m home playing Mr. Mom to a sick daughter and have the length of a nap to write this.

After a heart-breaking loss like the one yesterday in Houston (a game that had the upside of the team not quitting and the downside of being one we should have won), the Atlanta Hawks are a team for the Lakers can get well against. Atlanta is bad — the 28th worst team in defensive efficiency (105.5 points per 100 possessions) and the 29th ranked team in offensive efficiency (95.7). That’s a tough combination to overcome.

The Lakers should be able to score tonight — team’s shoot 50.4% (eFG%) against the Hawks for the season. The two positions the Hawks have had the most trouble defending is at the point (18.0 opponents PER) and center (17.9), so this is a big chance for Chucky Atkins and Chris Mihm to take some of the load off Lamar Odom. That said, the Lakers should be able to score from every position tonight.

Defensively, the Lakers need to make the Hawks shoot from the outside, because they can’t. On jump shots (15 feet or more) the Hawks are shooting 38% eFG%. (For comparison, the Lakers are shooting 44.9%.) The guy taking most of the shots will be Antoine Walker, one of only two Hawks with a PER above the league average of 15 at 15.59. (The other is Joe Smith at 17.75.) In what is a classic sign of trouble, Walker is the Hawks leading scorer but also has the worst Roland Rating on the team -18.7. When your team does better with your best player on the bench, things are very bad.

The other guy who does some scoring for the Hawks is Al Harrington (14.55 PER, -5.0 Roland Rating). They both play the forward spots so Lamar and Caron need to step up on defense.

Okay, I hear crying so I’ve got to go. And by the way, rarely am I at home to watch the start of an Eastern game for the Lakers (4:30 on KCAL) and it has to be the Hawks. Why can’t she get sick on the day of the Heat or Knicks or 76ers or…..