Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs.
Atlanta Hawks Overview
The Atlanta Hawks won 40 games in 2011-12, their fourth consecutive season with at least that many victories. Seeded fifth, the Hawks were bounced from the postseason by the Boston Celtics in six games, making last year the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Hawks failed to win a playoff series.
Heading into this season, the Hawks have trimmed their payroll significantly, possibly in an effort to position themselves to make a play for two max free agents following the 2012-13 campaign. Gone are Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, who had been mainstays in Atlanta. In their places, the Hawks brought in Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams and Johan Petro (all acquired in the Johnson trade). For Williams, the Hawks snagged Devin Harris from the Utah Jazz. They also signed Lou Williams.
Al Horford and Josh Smith still reside in Atlanta’s frontcourt, and there’ll be a revolving door at the guard spots between Harris, Jeff Teague and Williams. Morrow, Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson may also factor into the backcourt situation.
Head Coach Larry Drew’s Hawks played at a relatively slow pace last season and were in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive efficiency. On defense, Atlanta was excellent, ranking sixth in the NBA in overall defensive efficiency.
Overall, Atlanta figures to be a mid-to-low seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year, as they’ve largely compensated for the loss of Johnson with a handful of quick guards and quality shooters. But again, their real focus seems to be free agency in 2013.
Key Matchup/Important Stat
Atlanta and Golden State clashed just once last year, resulting in an 85-82 win for the Warriors. Many of the involved parties in that contest won’t be around this season (Dominic McGuire, Monta Ellis, Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, to name a few), so it’s hard to guess how the teams’ two meetings will go this time around.
One important stat to watch will be the rebound totals. Last year, the Warriors hardly ever outrebounded anyone, finishing dead last in the NBA in rebound rate. Despite that, Golden State beat the Hawks on the boards in their only meeting last year, 53-50. So this season, with Andrew Bogut around, plus a lineup that figures to have better size than the Hawks at every position, look for the Warriors to win the battle on the boards again.
Threat Level: 4
On a scale of 1-10, the Hawks don’t pose much of a threat to the Warriors. Sure, they’re a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but they’d probably struggle to stay above .500 in the vastly superior West. Figuring in the facts that the Hawks have lost some star power while the Warriors have improved the roster markedly from last year, it looks like Golden State is a superior team on paper.
Expect the Warriors to easily win their home game against Atlanta on November 14 and narrowly escape with a season sweep in Atlanta on December 15 on the strength of improved rebounding.