February 25, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith (5) warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Atlanta defeated Golden State 95-79. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Golden State Warriors vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview

The Golden State Warriors (3-4) host the Atlanta Hawks (3-3) tonight at Oracle arena. For the Warriors, losers of two straight, this is a game they’ve got to have. Very little has gone right for the Dubs so far—witness the terrible shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the often invisible David Lee, the Andrew Bogut injury, the Brandon Rush injury and the slow development of the rookies (to name a few).

Still, Atlanta is a middle-of-the-pack playoff team in a typically weak Eastern conference. Which means the Warriors should be able to take care of business at home. But (hit play on the broken record), the Warriors’ dependence on making jump shots means they’re vulnerable to (and capable of beating) virtually any team. The Hawks could come out and lay an egg, but if the Warriors aren’t knocking down shots, all bets are off.

It’s a frustrating thing to watch, this reliance on outside shooting. But that’s apparently how the Warriors are going to play offensively this year, so we’d all better get used to it.


Quick Thoughts:

—Klay Thompson needs to play the best game of his young season tonight, just to show that there are no lingering negative effects from his dreadful performance against the Nuggets. In isolation, Thompson’s missed free throws and complete mind cramp in the game’s critical moments was his lowest point as a pro. But viewed more broadly, it was just a continuation of a roundly disappointing sophomore effort. Thompson needs to start knocking down open shots and contributing to the cause in other ways.

—Stephen Curry, battling the flu over the past few days, needs to show a little consistency. His overall numbers are ugly, but the unpredictability of his scoring contributions is killing the Warriors. Besides that, now that 82games.com has its data for this season up, we know Curry is getting annihilated by opposing point guards. He’s got to buckle down on defense, especially if he’s not scoring.

—Business as usual in the matchup-watch department. Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague are areas of concern for the Warriors. Horford, in particular could have his way with the Warriors’ soft power forward defensive combination. If Teague also has a big game, the Warriors may not be able to pull this one out.

—Mark Jackson, unless you’re doing it for comedy’s sake, please never try to convince me that David Lee is anything other than a horrendous defensive player. It’s insulting and I don’t appreciate it. Thanks.


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