The (54-20) Los Angeles Lakers are in Atlanta to face the (47-26) Hawks.
Both teams have more than enough incentive to play well; the Lakers want to finish their last extended road trip of the regular season on a winning note. The Hawks are currently tied for the third seed in the Eastern Conference; seeking to expand the number of elite teams in the conference to four.
This has been a strange road swing for the Lakers, but the team has yet to play with any consistency or with a sense of urgency. It makes no sense to wait until the Playoffs and attempt to flip the switch.
Tonight’s game is huge in the sense that due to a series of issues, our team is showing a lot of weaknesses and they are in trouble! This team hasn’t been a solid team on the road, Andrew Bynum is injured, screen and roll defense has faltered, quick guards have abused the squad, and on more than one occasion the bench hasn’t even showed up. All this means, is that our team like every other team in the league has holes.
The NBA is a game of chess and not a game of checkers so to speak its about match ups. The Lakers aren’t playing with any consistency or at a high level. Despite this fact, the the Lakers have won eight of their last 10 games.
The fact of the matter is that you would be lying to yourself if you didn’t notice the dark clouds surrounding our team. However, if the season ended tonight the Purple and Gold would face the Spurs in the first round and the Suns in the second round, two very winnable series against teams that don’t match up well with the Lakers.
Atlanta has won seven of the last 10 games; they’re 30-7 at home and will be favored tonight. The Lakers need to play to their strength, use their length and look to destroy the Hawks on the interior. The Lakers need to establish Pau Gasol in the painted area, be patient in their offense using excellent ball movement and excellent player movement and take high percentage shots.
The Lakers need to avoid settling for jump shots, especially three point shots and look for a high percentage shot close to the basket. The Lakers front line needs to be aggressive on both ends of the court and everyone wearing a purple jersey needs to attack the rim.
The best case scenario for Lakers would see them playing solid defense, stopping the dribble penetration, defending the screen and roll, challenging every shot, limiting the Hawks to one shot per possession, extending their defense out to the three point line, and boxing out and out rebounding the Hawks.
Tip-off: 4:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Atlanta: FS South (Bob Rathbun & Dominique Wilkins)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Atlanta: 790 AM (Steve Holman)
- Andrew Bynum (Left Achilles Strain) Out
- Kobe Bryant ( Avulsion fracture of his right index finger, Sprained Left Ankle)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb) listed Day-to-Day
- Ron Artest (Sprained Left Thumb) listed Day-to-Day
- Lamar Odom (Sprained Shoulder) listed Day-to-Day
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back) Out, but did practice with the team
- None to report.