Three Key Questions…

Friday, February 17, 2012
By Jon Newberry

The Hawks have three games left on their road trip, and each one comes with an important question whose answer will have a profound impact on strategy and game plan.

Will LaMarcus Aldridge be in uniform?
Aldridge has missed the last two games for the Blazers after spraining his left ankle early in Tuesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. On Thursday, Portland coach Nate McMillan sounded optimistic that Aldridge would be ready. “He’s a little better,” McMillan said. “We’ll look at him (Friday). We’re hoping he’ll be ready on Saturday.”

Without Aldridge in the lineup the Blazers have been starting a smaller lineup with Wesley Matthews at shooting guard, Nicolas Batum at small forward and Gerald Wallace moving up to power forward. If Aldridge is unable to go, then Portland’s adjusted lineup takes a lot of defensive pressure off of Josh Smith who was tasked with slowing down LaMarcus during the Hawks win earlier this season.

Will Derrick Rose be in uniform?
The reigning NBA MVP has missed four consecutive games due to back spasms. During Thursday night’s win over the Celtics it was reported that Rose is almost pain free at this point, and should be very near a return. Still, backs are tricky, and it seems like the Bulls are in no rush to bring Derrick back while they continue to hold the best record in the league.

Obviously, any team would miss Rose, but the Bulls are still a quality opponent without their star. His absence would allow the Hawks to focus more defensive attention on Deng and Boozer.

Will Lin-Sanity still be running rampant?
It has been a question asked across all mainstream media platforms for over a week now, and Jeremy Lin refuses to give up the spotlight. Now, with Carmelo Anthony on the verge of returning, the question has a new wrinkle. The bigger question might be  whether or not the Knicks will still be riding the emotional high that has sent Manhattan into a frenzy.