It is already starting to happen. The Lakers are turning into what a lot of people thought they would be this season. The team has struggled to be efficient, and they have also struggled on defense. Since the Clippers game, the Lakers haven’t been able to shoot over 40 percent, while simultaneously turning the ball over 14 times a game.
Instead of writing a normal preview, I asked Soaring Down South’s and Pro Sports Extra’s Brandon Barnes a couple questions about tonight’s game.
One of the key matchups tonight is going to be Al Horford vs. Pau Gasol. How do you think that will go?
Al Horford certainly has a tough night ahead against Pau, but his superior quickness and athleticism should be able to get him some good looks. With the Hawks on offense, I don’t expect Coach Budenholzer to focus the gameplan around Horford vs Gasol, but Big Al does a great job of finding points and easy boards, averaging 16.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg. Lets not forget about the other stats; he is averaging 2.5 in assists, steals, and blocks. Talk about a stat sheet stuffer… supreme! Looking at the potential for a big Pau game, Lakers fans? I don’t see a superb game in him tonight, but he’ll throw up around 16 points and bring down 9 boards just because he’s Pau Gasol. I’m going to give a slight edge to Horford in this matchup (because, athleticism), but neither player will dominate the other.
The Lakers are averaging 16 turnovers a game. Can the Hawks capitalize on that?
Is Al Horford married to a former Miss Universe? The answer to both questions is yes! Team defense is something Coach Bud is really stressing to the squad and their communication and team chemistry improves every day. The Hawks thrive on the run and Jeff Teague does a great job finding a good look on the fast break. His superior quickness over the Lakers’ point guards should prove to be an advantage in all aspects of the game.
The Lakers bench is averaging 57.7 points a game compared to the Hawks 28.5. What can/will the Hawks do to stop them?
Yikes! 57.7 is a lot! I don’t think there’s too much they can do to completely stop them (someone gotta shoot), but they can certainly slow them down. LA’s bench minutes are pretty spread out so I can see why they get so many shots up. The Hawks held Dallas and Toronto to 32 and 17 bench points, respectively, so look for the Lakers to fall short of that 57.7 tonight.
As Brandon said, the Hawks have shut down the opposing team’s benches thus far. The Lakers bench has been absolutely huge for the team, outscoring the starters by about 20 points. It was also announced today that Xavier Henry is replacing Nick Young in the starting lineup. If the bench can’t get going, the Lakers could be in trouble. It’ll be a close game until late third, early fourth quarter. Hawks win 105-94.