Warriors at Hawks
A sweep of the road trip is out of the question, but the Golden State Warriors can still head back home with a spectacular showing if they are able to knock off the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. The Warriors took the first five contests of a seven-game trip before falling at Orlando on Friday. The Hawks have won 11 of 13 and have the bodies on the inside to match up with Golden State’s hottest player in David Lee.
Lee has posted a double-double in each game on the road trip but will have to deal with Josh Smith and Al Horford of Atlanta. Those two are part of a strong defensive unit for the Hawks that has held opponents to 87 points in their last four wins. The Warriors have played strong defense as well but looked sluggish at the start on Friday and let the Magic jump ahead. Lee and Stephen Curry provided their usual 20-plus points, but the supporting cast could not step up.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSBA (Golden State)
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (15-8): Finishing up a seven-game trip with a back-to-back is not the ideal schedule, but Golden State has already exceeded expectations by taking five of the first six. The Warriors finally began to show some fatigue on Friday, shooting under 30 percent in the first half and failing to mount much of a rally after the break in a 99-85 loss to the Magic. Klay Thompson, who scored 27 points in a win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday, had the most trouble finding his stroke in a 3-for-13 effort. Lee, who has gone over 20 points and 10 rebounds in each of the last six games, and Curry each looked strong despite spending over 40 minutes on the court. Those two are the big reason for optimism for the Warriors and have become one of the better inside-outside combinations in the league.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (14-6): Atlanta was supposed to take a step back without Joe Johnson but instead seems to be stronger than ever. Smith and Horford are combining for 33.6 points, 18.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks while buying into a team defensive concept that has the Hawks in the top five in the NBA in points allowed. Those two will take turns on Lee depending on Golden State’s lineup, while DeShawn Stevenson and Jeff Teague will likely get a chance to shut down Curry on the outside. Atlanta got a surprise contribution from Devin Harris on Thursday. Harris was sent to the bench after six straight games as a starter and responded to the demotion by pouring in 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the 113-90 win over Charlotte.
1. Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes had arguably his best game in the first meeting on Nov. 14, collecting 19 points and 13 rebounds as Golden State posted a 92-88 victory over visiting Atlanta.
2. Lee went for 18 and 10 in the first meeting and has averaged 13.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in 20 career games against the Hawks.
3. Smith is 8-for-15 from 3-point range over the last five games.