Charlotte Bobcats vs Atlanta Hawks game preview

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks, huh? How 'bout em? The Atlanta Hawks, I mean. Ah, it's not so easy now, is it?

Well, these ain't your granddaddy's Atlanta Hawks. Those guys are probably all retired. Like Mike Bibby. Those were dark dark times. No more Zaza Pachulia. He's dead now. Or in Milwaukee. I'm not sure which.

No, this is a different team. So long to Josh Smith. So long to Josh Smith's long midrange jump shots. So long to the chorus of boos from home crowds after Josh Smith's long midrange jump shots. And now they have Paul Millsap, also known as Paul Trillsap because he keeps it true and real. Millsap's impact offensively has been immediate, replacing Smith's scoring and versatility at an elite level. He'll probably come back down to earth a bit but for now, he's been superb.

Al Horford's still the same ol' rock solid center on offense and a fine enough defender even though he'll never win any accolades for it. Jeff Teague's been decent, scoring and dropping dimes at a high rate so far, though he's needed a bunch of shots to do it given his poor shooting from behind the arc to this point. And then there's Kyle Korver, the man with the sharp shot and quick draw that can bury teams from deep. He's only shooting 58.6 percent from three this season, so hopefully the Bobcats are aware of that.

The Hawks run a fast tempo so the Bobcats should be able to keep pace with their youth and personnel, though if Al Jefferson is back, they should probably opt to slow things down. They have less margin for error because of their poor three-point shooting options so slowing it down and making each possession last longer could benefit them.

Atlanta does a great job at defending without fouling, but they give up one of the worst three-point shooting percentages to opponents, which would be great news to Bobcats fans were the team not second-worst at shooting them.

One of the more interesting matchups is the Bobcats' interior defense and Atlanta's interior offense. The Hawks convert shots within five feet of the rim at a very high clip, whereas the Bobcats are one of the best teams at defending that area. However, Atlanta features a terrific big man duo that not only can score in the post and shoot the occasional jumper, but that can handle the ball and pass decently well for their size. Interior passing can mince opponents, and the Bobcats will have to adjust for it.

Also watch for the backup guard matchup. Ramon Sessions has been able to get Charlotte to the free-throw line in bunches, which is a vital need for when the Bobcats' offense stalls. Dennis Schroder is a lanky, long quick agile guard that could make life difficult for Sessions and Kemba Walker. The Bobcats guards do have experience on their side, however.

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