With the NBA Playoffs just over a week away, I went ahead and took a look at every (realistic) potential matchup the Atlanta Hawks may face in the postseason, and discussed how to go about coming away the victor, as well as giving my prediction.
Season series: Heat 4-0
- If there’s one thing you can take away from the abundance of Miami Heat highlight clips on YouTube is that they can run the fast break like no other team can. Turning the ball over against this squad is the equivalent of a death sentence, you may as well surrender two points and avoid having LeBron James fly over the top of you. This means trouble for Atlanta, who’s 22nd in the league in turnover percentage. The Heat will double the handler on every pick-and-roll, meaning point guard Jeff Teague, who’s matured a great amount since last year will need to be extra careful when controlling the offense.
- Miami finds themselves crushed on the boards often, ranking 26th and 24th in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage respectively. They rank 25th in total rebounding percentage, yet are still ahead of the Hawks who rank 27th in the league. It’s quite the head-scratcher considering Atlanta boasts a frontcourt of excellent rebounders in Al Horford and Josh Smith, plus their defensive rebounding percentage is 12th best in the NBA. Anyway, rebounding is Miami’s most glaring weakness and that’s where the Hawks need to take advantage. Now I’m not saying send all five guys to the offensive glass because that would be counterintuitive to the first key, so the load is basically on Smith and Horford, since Zaza Pachulia won’t be returning to the Hawks this season.
- The Heat’s offense surrounds the skillful endeavors of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, their trio of superstars. However, a great deal of it comes from their role players nailing wide open long bombs off of a kick out from James, Wade, or Bosh. As effective and monumental as help defense is in today’s game, it must be used in a very limited fashion if you’re going to beat Miami, as all three stars are extremely proficient passers and will find the open shooter when doubled. Thus, individual defense is huge. The Hawks may not have a farm of talented one-on-one defenders, but Horford can check Bosh, Deshawn Stevenson defended Dwyane Wade in a Finals series two years ago, (which he won) and Josh Smith is athletic enough to somewhat stick with James.
Prediction: Heat 4-0
Season series: Knicks 2-0 (one game remaining)
- The New York Knicks have been abysmal at guarding opposing point guards, When your best option is 35-year old rookie Pablo Prigioni, that’s probably what happens. What does this mean for the Hawks? It means they don’t Continue Reading…