My daughter is the Basketball Prophet.
I’m sitting on my couch watching the Lakers – Hawks game Wednesday, February 6th with my 4 year old daughter sitting next to me. Entering halftime I see the score is in the Laker’s favor 53-45.
My daughter says, “Papi, I think the Lakers are gonna lose”.
I look at her with betrayal clear on my face, “Why would you say that, hon?”
“Because the guys in white are faster”, she says.
Now, I love my daughter, but that day, she almost got sent to her room. We sat there and watched the game and I saw as the game progressed that the Hawks were running, A LOT! There were times where the Lakers would miss a shot and 4.5 seconds later, the Hawks were scoring. The announcer would say, “If the lakers don’t get back on defense, the Hawks just might take this one.”
“No way, man”, I would say to my self, but as I watched in disbelief, the Hawks hung around thru the 3rd quarter. Then at the end of the 4th, Kobe lost the ball to Joe Johnson’s defense. The Lakers had lost!
You see, she was right. The Hawks were faster. They out rebounded, out “fast breaked”, and out scored the Lakers in the paint. If the Lakers plan on defeating the “new look” Hawks tonight with their addition of Mike Bibby, they will have to win in these three areas.
Needless to say my daughter was gloating for the remainder of the day; till I got revenge and sent her to bed early for jumping on the couch. Since that day’s prediction, I have been asking her who will win each basketball game and you know what? 100% right so far. So I am introducing a new feature in the pre-game preview. It is called “Amber’s game prediction”. I will keep a running tally for the rest of the year to see how good she does. Now I’m not saying you can take her word to “Caliente” down in T.J, I’m just saying that so far, she has been a basketball prophet.
It’s uncanny (if I can only sneak her into Vegas).
What the Hawks will want to do: The Hawks will be trying to out work the Lakers in the paint. I’m talking rebounds, points in the paint, and fast points close to the basket.
With the addition of Bibby, the Hawks will have yet another player who can both shoot the outside shot and drive to the “house”. That also means fouls. The Hawks beat the Lakers in the closing minutes with foul shots; J. J. made 4 for 4 in the last 23 seconds
Also, don’t forget that Bibby has always played well against our Lakers. Remember this day? That’s the day I almost had a heart attack. Bibby is averaging 18 points and 5 assists in 35 games against the Lakers. He averaged 24 points in four games against the Lakers in 2006-07. He will be a problem.
Defense against the home team will be a problem for the Hawks. The Lakers have a great home court with loyal fans and of course; Jack. Man, Jack is the Laker’s own mascot with that wily grin and sunbursted sunglasses.
Oh yeah, defending Kobe. Unless that dreaded “Pinky of Doom” is too much to bear, I expect Kobe to have another great game like he did against Minnesota last week.
What the Lakers will want to do: Kobe’s Pinky! Goodness gracious, has there ever been a time when such a small part of a person has caused so much of a raucous? Ok, too easy. I swear the devil is in Kobe’s pinky! It assisted in the Laker’s demise the last time they faced the Hawks and it might strike again. Kobe will have to be very careful not to aggravate that evil pinky or that little digit might mean the end of Finals hopes for the ‘ol “Purple and Gold”.
Better shot selection. The Lakers were 11-24 in tre’s last game against the Hawks to their 5-11. Guess what happened, when the Lakers missed those 13 times, the Hawks out ran the Lakers 16-9 in fastbreak points.
Welcome Home to Gasol and the Lakers! Gasol will be instrumental in slowing down Al “My ears give me super strength” Horford on the boards. Last game Al grabbed 20 rebounds!
Hawks: Mike Bibby / Joe Johnson / Josh Smith / Marvin Williams / Al Horford
Lakers: Derek Fisher / Kobe Bryant / Vlad “Rad” / Lamar Odom / Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol vs. Al Horford
Mike Bibby vs. Derek Fisher
Mack’s Game Prediction: Do I need to say it? Lakers!
Amber’s Game Prediction: Lakers! (Good girl)
Game Preview Questions for Discussion:
1. Will Bibby make a big impact?
2. More importantly; if the Lakers keep the Hawks below 100 pts, will they play DJ Mbenga’s “Dacos” video over the teleprompter?
Game Time: 7:30 PM Lakers Standard Time
Local Broadcast: FSN HD
National Broadcast: NBA League Pass
Radio: KLAC & KWKW