Well, this is unfortunate for the Hawks.
The Hawks are set to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, something they will now have to do without Josh Smith. The forward sprained his ankle in the the 109-102 loss to Houston, and did not make the trip to OKC earlier today.
The injury means that Zaza Pachulia will enter the starting lineup, moving Al Horford to the power forward position. With Johan Petro out, this leaves Ivan Johnson as the only other player on the bench capable of playing the center spot. 2nd round pick Mike Scott could also see his first action of the season.
The most damning part of this injury will likely be on the defensive end. Everyone knows about Smith’s defensive capabilities, but the Hawks were also most effective against Houston when playing Smith at the SF spot. Josh matching up against Durant might not have ideal, but certainly would have been a better option than Kyle Korver or Anthony Tolliver. Of course, some of the onus of this assignment may fall on Al Horford, who might to a better job than you would think. Horford, who has had to switch out on to quick guards in the past (thanks to Mike Woodson’s old “switch on absolutely everything” defense), usually does a respectable job at guarding the quick guys. Check the end of this clip:
Just in case you were wondering, Josh missed that game as well, and Al came through and saved the day with 31 points and 16 rebounds. (A repeat of that performance from Al wouldn’t hurt) Sure, Horford’s not going to be able to lockdown a quick player like that for a full game, but he’s probably going to need to effectively guard Durant for several plays if the Hawks want to have a shot.
Just from my perspective, the Hawks are really going to miss Marvin Williams in this game. (the probably could have used him against Harden, too) The game against the Thunder will start at 7pm ET.