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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Atlanta Hawks preview -- Game 42

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The Big Picture: Last night, the Atlanta Hawks got smoked by the New Orleans Hornets, 100-59. As Bobcats fans, we've been through that type of loss, but never at the same moment that we expected our team to raise a ruckus in the playoffs and have an outside shot at reaching the Finals. I fully expect the Hawks to be back at full strength tonight, but it's well worth noting the embarrassing game they played.

And the Hawks, one by one, have some really good players. Al Horford missed last night's game, and he might miss tonight's game, but when the dude plays, he's been fantastic, the Hawks' best player. Amazingly -- to me, at least -- hardly anyone seems to be touting Josh Smith's All Star credentials. I love Ray Allen. He's one of the more underrated stars of the post-Bird/Johnson era, with a significantly better career than, say, Reggie Miller. However, this year, even though he's been as good as ever, Smith has simply been more productive in every facet of the game that's not shooting, and even after acknowledging position differences, it's hard for me to understand why the narrative of "four Celtics in the ASG" on top of Allen's credentials is trumping Smith's very real accomplishments.

When all's said and done, I'm afraid Smith is going to be remembered as the brash, chucking, youngster he was, and not the uber-Gerald Wallace that he is today.

Musical Interlude: Death to Flying Things -- "One Day For Every Inch Of Road"

(Please allow me the indulgence of posting one of my own songs.)

Key to Victory: The Bobcats need to figure out how they're going to compensate for Tyrus Thomas's absence. While Crash is effective against bigger matchups, I tend to agree that he's more likely to stay healthy when matched up against guys his size, and regardless of what anyone else thinks, he doesn't want to play that role. The clear solution is to give Derrick Brown every opportunity to succeed as an undersized power forward with those minutes, and then if Paul Silas wants to make a concerted effort at winning the game, play the hot hand in crunch time between Brown, Dominic McGuire, or the centers.

Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Man U vs. Birmingham City is on right now. Too bad I'll have to be out of the house and miss Aston Villa vs. Man City in the early afternoon.