Hawks-Mavs Preview: Hawks Looking To Split Season Series
The Hawks (8-8) come into the game reeling after losing their third game in a row Wednesday night in Houston, while the Mavs (10-6) just avoided a three-game skid of their own with a win in Oakland over the Warriors on Wednesday.
Atlanta dropped the season opener in Dallas in a high-scoring affair that the Mavericks won 118-109. Monta Ellis had a big night with 32 points on 64.7% shooting and was 2-of-3 from the three-point line. Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and Vince Carter added 21 points off the bench on 56.3% shooting.
The Mavs as a team shot 57.1% from the field and were 11-for-24 (45.8%) from three-point range. The Hawks offense played well shooting 48.7% from the field, but they were 8-for-24 (33.3%) from three-point range and were unable to get stops down the stretch on the defensive end.
The focus for the Hawks will be staying closer to Ellis on pick-and-rolls, as he created a lot of separation on pick-and-rolls to get open shot attempts in the first meeting. Ellis has always been a player that can go off for big games, but this season he’s been more consistent and efficient scoring the ball with a 50% effective field goal percentage, which would be his second highest eFG% in his career. He still takes a high volume of shots, but the selection has improved to where he is taking mostly open looks, even in low-percentage areas of the floor like in the mid-range, as opposed to contested jumpers.
Keeping the Mavs off the three-point line will also be critical for the Hawks’ success. Paul Millsap, who had a terrific offensive game against the Mavs with 20 points on 60% shooting, will have to be more aggressive than he was in the opener defending Nowitzki when he is behind the three-point line. Dirk was 4-for-6 behind the three-point line and Millsap, and the other Hawks defending Dirk, will have to try and take away his space to make him uncomfortable from beyond the arc.
The Hawks got big games from Millsap and Jeff Teague in the first meeting as Teague had 24 points and nine assists. The Hawks will need Teague to be aggressive once again attacking the Mavs in pick-and-roll. The Mavs are 18th in the NBA in defending pick-and-roll ball-handlers and are 20th against pick-and-roll roll-men, so the Hawks will have plenty opportunities to exploit the Dallas defense. To take advantage of those opportunities, the Hawks will need to cut back on their turnovers as they had 17 in the first meeting, including six from Teague.
The Hawks have looked sloppy on this three-game losing streak and will need to tighten up the defensive effort if they are going to break that streak tonight against a high-scoring Mavericks team. Adding Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack back into the lineup tonight will be a boost for them, but they will still be short-staffed in the backcourt with Kyle Korver sitting out for the second straight game with bruised ribs.
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