UPDATES: Ivan Johnson is definitely out tonight. He remained at the team hotel. … Hawks will start Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Al Horford. “In the last couple of games we’ve played in going with this lineup it’s been good for us,” coach Larry Drew said. “I think with both Teague and Williams in the lineup it gives us speed, it gives us the ability to play a little faster. … I think it’s important on the road to dictate the tempo of the game and when it’s time to run we have to get out and fly.” … Drew said there is a “probability” he will save DeShawn Stevenson for tomorrow night’s game against the Pacers.
Hawks coach Larry Drew acknowledged Josh Smith’s late-game shooting issues against the Pistons Wednesday as “poor shot selection” and said the two have spoken and are ready to move on.
Despite finishing with 31 points, Smith combined to score only one point in the fourth quarter and both overtimes. He was 13-of-18 shooting through three quarters but 0-of-7 in the final 22 minutes.
“It was just poor shot selection,” Drew said. “He knows it. We’ve already talked about it. That was a game where I thought he probably settled a little too much on the perimeter. He acknowledged it. We look at tape and we talk about it and we just move on.”
* Tonight the Hawks’ main focus will be on stopping the Cavaliers’ dribble penetration. The Cavs scored 46 points in the paint in their victory over the Hawks on Nov. 30 at Philips Arena. Now, they have point guard Kyrie Irving back.
“After looking at our last game, that is what really killed us,” Drew said.
Drew said the Hawks have added a few wrinkles for this game against the Cavs based on the last game. However, the focus will be on better execution both offensively and defensively.
“From an execution standpoint we have enough stuff where I think we can keep them off balance offensively,” Drew said. “It’s just a matter of us getting out there and executing the play and making sure we explore the option off the play, especially on the road. This is where it’s most important because we want to try to control the tempo on the road.”
The Hawks had trouble defending dribble penetration late in Wednesday’s game against the Pistons. Will Bynum scored 26 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods. When Bynum and the Pistons weren’t scoring on layups, they were dishing to Andre Drummond for dunks.
“It is something we saw the last game when Bynum was penetrating, a big man was helping and then Drummond had the wide-open dunks,” Zaza Pachulia said of the Hawks defensive breakdowns. “Other guys have to help the big guy. It’s like a chain. Everybody needs to help each other and be on the same page. That is the key. If you do that we’ll make it easier on ourselves.
“I’ve seen this team doing it the right way and helping each other so I know we are capable of doing it. We just didn’t execute it the right way.”
* The Hawks will get a break in the rebounding battle as the Cavs will be without Anderson Varejao. The center has missed four games with a bruised right knee and he will miss the next two more, including tonight against the Hawks.
Varejao had 18 boards as the Cavs out-rebounded the Hawks 49-28 in their last meeting.
Varejao is the NBA’s leading rebounder at 14.4 boards per game.
Drew warned it’s not only Varejao the Hawks must be concerned about stopping.
“They have guys who really go and attack the glass,” Drew said. “We’ll have to be good in our box outs, not only our big guys but our perimeters as well. They are going to have to get in there and chase some loose balls down. Their size is certainly something we are going to have to deal with tonight but, again, we might try to combat that with our speed and quickness.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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