Team Records: Portland (32-36) at Atlanta (38-30)
Game Info: 4:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Atlanta -8
Refs: Marc Davis, Courtney Kirkland, Violet Palmer.
The Skinny: After hammering the Bulls Thursday night in Chicago, the Blazers travel to Atlanta in search of a second straight road win against a surging Hawks team. Atlanta has won four out of its last five after losing six of its previous seven.
Last Time They Met: Atlanta took control early and held on for dear life late as Portland made a charge but fell short as the Hawks won in Portland.
Projected Hawks Lineup:
PF-Josh Smith (Oak Hill Academy (HS)-9th Season) 17.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.3 APG.
SF-Kyle Korver (Creighton-10th Season)-11.2 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.1 APG.
C-Al Horford (Florida-6th Season)-17.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.2 APG
SG-Devin Harris (Wisconsin-9th Season)-9.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.1 APG.
PG-Jeff Teague (Wake Forest-4th Season)-14.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 7.1 APG.
Player to Watch-Al Horford (Pictured at right)- Horford is an elite big man with a great mid-range shot. He can run the floor and finish at the rim and is an excellent rebounder. Although he’s really more of a PF, Horford is more than capable of playing C and is an improving defender. His post game needs a bit of work but is also improving as well. Horford will be a big challenge for the Blazers Friday.
Did You Know?: Despite having one of the more notably less enthusiastic fanbases in the league, Atlanta is a tough team to beat at home, sporting a 70.5% winning percentage at home over the last six seasons.
Song of the Day: “Welcome to Atlanta” by Ludacris and Jermaine Dupris-One of Atlanta’s signature songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad), SF Victor Claver (Ankle).
Atlanta: Out-C Zaza Pachulia (Achilles), SG Lou Williams (Knee).
Re-Evaluating the Hawks: Whither Josh Smith?
The Hawks made no secret that they were trying to shop free agent to be Josh Smith at this year’s trade deadline. While several trades appeared to be close, it never quite came together and now it appears Atlanta will lose him without getting anything for him. Still, the news isn’t all bad for the Hawks because given their smart moves of the past few years, they actually have a lot of flexibility going forward. Especially since they got Brooklyn to take Joe Johnson and his albatross of a contract, the Hawks will be able to rebuild from losing Smith rather quickly.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They attack inside. Josh Smith and Al Horford are decent interior defenders but they are pretty much all the Hawks have. The Blazers should be able to exploit this advantage and make it easier for themselves on offense than has been the case much of this season.
Atlanta wins if: They take care of the ball. The Hawks are not a high-risk offense and so if they turn the ball over a lot, they are in trouble. If they can keep control of the ball, however, they should be able to beat Portland.