Pump Up Music: Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- "Date With the Night"
The Big Picture: As I see it, in any given season, there are two, maybe three, real title contenders, five or six other teams that wouldn't surprise if they made the Finals, and one or two more teams that would be major surprises in the Finals, but it's conceivable they'd make it. I'm not sure where the Atlanta Hawks fit this year.
Tier 1 -- Cavs, Lakers
Somewhere -- Hawks
The Bobcats are somewhere around Tier 5 with the Raptors and Bucks: fun playoff teams that the masses can support but, nonetheless, it wouldn't be a shock if they missed out. All this is to say that the Hawks' run near the start of the season is indicative of something, and they're clearly better than recent versions, but I don't think anyone's quite ready to crown them Eastern Conference contenders, especially with three other powers standing in their way.
In any event, the Cats' evisceration of the Hawks way back when isn't necessarily a great measure of how far Charlotte's come this year, because that was at the end of a long road trip, and the ATLiens probably just wanted to get home and get it over with. This game will be much more of a test.
Key to Victory: Atlanta gives up the fewest turnovers in the league, while Charlotte is a group of ballhawks that has taken to trapping regularly. It's actually kind of amazing the Hawks have been able to do that, given that they have a historically score-first point guard in Mike Bibby, and his backups are a score-first rookie and a couple score-first shooting guards. PROTIP: It's a fantastic video game strategy to work the half-court trap, for many of the same reasons it works for the Cats. Hardly anybody does it regularly, so it's not easy to practice for, and in video game world, everyone is quick and rangy, which is the perfect type of player to run a trap. The Cats have a whole lineup of quick guys with length, from Stephen Jackson to Gerald Wallace to Boris Diaw. Force. Those. Turnovers.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: In the movie version of Gone With the Wind, the burning of Atlanta was accomplished by burning down sets constructed for other movies. In one shot, if you know where to look, I believe you can make out a King Kong set.