To beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, the Atlanta Hawks will need to play their best game of the season. That’ll be hard for Atlanta to accomplish, given their current situation, but if the recent game against the Milwaukee Bucks proved anything, it’s that this team can overcome adversity.
The Hawks blew out the Bucks on their home floor despite not having two critical pieces, starting point guard Jeff Teague and replacement center Pero Antic, in the lineup. However, that was against Milwaukee, which is the worst team in the NBA. Playing the Thunder will be a whole lot different, as they come in having won seven straight games led by their All-Star Kevin Durant.
Durant has been lighting up opponents recently and will attempt to score more than 30 points for the 11th consecutive game for Oklahoma City on Monday. Atlanta will not be able to prevent him from scoring, because it’s impossible to stop one of the best scorers in the league. However, with a player such as DeMarre Carroll on the roster, the Hawks have a chance of containing Durant. Last time these two faced off against each other, Durant went off for 30 points and 10 rebounds, but he got 11 of those points from the free throw line and needed 21 shots to get to that mark. If Carroll can keep him under 30 points, the Hawks have a great chance of pulling out a win on the road. The task won’t be easy for the “Junkyard Dog,” but he’s more than capable of defending the NBA’s leading scorer.
Carroll’s performance will be one of the deciding factors for this game. However, the whole team must be at their best in order to defeat the Thunder without some important players such as Teague. Paul Millsap cannot afford to underachieve and must carry the team on his back like he’s done for the majority of this season for the Hawks to even have a chance of winning. If he fails to produce, which is highly unlikely, Atlanta will be blown out of Chesapeake Energy Arena by the Thunder. The crazy part is that even if he delivers a big game, his teammates still have to bring their A-games as well in order to beat the Western Conference‘s best team.
Hopefully, Lou Williams ended his slump after his 18-point performance against the Bucks last night, because he’ll need to duplicate that performance in Oklahoma City to possibly pull out a huge road win. When he gets in a groove offensively and is able to score from anywhere on the floor, the Hawks become so much better as a team. It opens up the court for other players to be able to produce, as evidenced by the blowout win over Milwaukee where five other players were able to reach double figures.
It’ll take more than Williams to beat the Thunder, as the whole team must step up, but he’s still a major factor on the outcome of this game.