Whatever that performance was last night against the Indiana Pacers, the Atlanta Hawks need to wipe it clean from their memory in a hurry. Atlanta travels to play the pesky New Orleans Pelicans after playing one of their worst games of the season offensively. The defense showed up against Indiana, but when a single starter doesn’t get into double figures you’re not going to beat many teams. If the Hawks want to win tonight, the starters have to hold up their end of the bargain because despite a bad performance against the Pacers, the bench still played at a high level to almost pull out a win.
The key in the game will be the match-up between Paul Millsap and Anthony Davis. Both players are carrying the load for their teams this season and will be expected to do the same tonight in order to guide one of their teams to victory. Davis is starting to come into his own as a player in this league with the Pelicans. This season, he’s averaging 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game in his sophomore campaign, which is impressive for a guy who’s been battling injuries since he came to the NBA. Stopping him down low should be the point of emphasis for the Hawks tonight if they want to walk out of New Orleans with a good road win.
Millsap will have his work cut out for him in this game. He’s an undersized power forward who tends to struggle when playing teams that are bigger or more physical as evidenced by his poor performance against the Pacers last night. Facing Davis down low won’t be easy due to the height mismatch, but Millsap has proven time after time why he’s been an All-Star this season with the Hawks.
He can not only score with the best of them, but he can also rebound at a very high level despite his short stature from the forward position. He’s averaging 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game to lead the team. If he can get around his season averages tonight, which won’t be easy considering Davis’ shot blocking ability and height advantage, then Atlanta has a great chance of pulling out the victory in New Orleans.
Another player who should make a major impact in this game is Jeff Teague. The Pelicans could possibly be without their point guard Tyreke Evans after he suffered a rib injury two days ago. His status is uncertain for tonight’s game, and if he’s a not available Teague has to take advantage of his absence. When he plays well for the Hawks, the team plays so much better as evidenced by their recent hot streak on the offensive end up until last night. If he can bounce back from a poor performance along with his teammate Millsap, Atlanta can get the job done away from home.