The Lakers have been on the road for almost two weeks. On Tuesday, they’ll return home to Los Angeles, but before they do that, they’ll try and end their road trip on a high note by beating the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
The Lakers bested the Hawks in both of their meetings last season, with their first game ended 122-101. However, the Hawks are a much different team than they were last season.
After acquiring Danilo Gallinari in a sign-and-trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and signed Rajon Rondo and Bogdan Bodganovic in free agency, it appears the Hawks enough pieces around Trae Young to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They currently hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 10-9 record.
However, it’s not the Hawks’ big name offseason acquisitions that have made them a threat in the Eastern Conference this season, at least not entirely. While one might come to the conclusion that the Hawks rely heavily on their offense by taking a quick glance at their roster, their defense has actually been a bright spot for them.
Through 19 games, the Hawks have posted a defensive rating of 111.2, which is the ninth-best defensive rating in the NBA. Last season, the Hawks ranked 28th in defensive rating.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, one of their defensive anchors, De’Andre Hunter, won’t be available on Monday night. That means someone else will be tasked with guarding LeBron James. There’s a chance that ultimately doesn’t matter because the Lakers will be tired (or because James isn’t going play), but if they’re locked in, that’s a matchup Frank Vogel can exploit.
On the defensive end, their scouting report starts with who else but Young. Young is averaging 27 points per game on 42% shooting from the field this season. If the Lakers can hold him under that by keeping him off of the free-throw line, they’ll be golden. Then again, we could get a Rajon Rondo revenge game. We know how good he can be against his former teams.
The Lakers and Hawks will tip off at 4:30 p.m. on Monday. The game will be broadcast on Spectrum SportsNet locally.
Notes and Updates
- Kostas Antetokounmpo (right knee patellar tendinitis) and Jared Dudley (sore right calf) are out.
- Anthony Davis (right quad contusion) and LeBron James (left ankle sprain) are questionable.