Setting the Table: Atlanta Hawks (Game 51)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 11, 2013 under Previews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (22-28) are six wins away from being able to shave their beards. A win against the Atlanta Hawks (27-22) will get them one game closer. The Mavericks have won three of their last four games. Dallas has also won its last three home games. They’re looking to continue building momentum towards the All-Star Break. It was mentioned on The Rundown, if Dallas is serious about making a push for the 8th seed, they need to play about .750 basketball from here on out.

Dallas now 4.5 back of Houston and the 8th seed with 32 games to go. The race is officially on and it hits the next gear with the game against the Hawks.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Hawks.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks concluded the 2011-12 regular season with a 106-89 loss at Atlanta on Apr. 26, 2012. It was the only meeting between the Mavericks and the Hawks last season. Dirk Nowitzki scored a team-high 22 points for Dallas in the loss. Roddy Beaubois started at the point for Dallas and recorded 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and one block in 34 minutes. Despite the loss in the most recent showdown, the Mavericks have won 9-of-13 and 19 of the last 26 regular-season meetings with the Hawks. The Mavericks have taken 11 of the last 13 matchups in Dallas. The two teams met once in the 2012 preseason (at Atlanta on Oct. 20, 2012) and the Hawks recorded a 110-94 victory.

It’s a Small World:

Hawks guard DeShawn Stevenson played in 96 games (59 starts) for the Mavericks from 2009-11, averaging 4.5 points in 14.8 minutes. Stevenson was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 title team. He led Dallas in 3-pointers made in the 2011 championship series against Miami (shot 13-23, .565, in 6-game series vs. Miami).

Hawks guard Devin Harris played for Dallas from 2004-08 and averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 assists in 22.8 minutes. Harris was a member of the Mavericks’ 2006 Western Conference Championship Team. Harris and Mavericks swingman Vince Carter played a season-and-a-half together in New Jersey from 2008-09. Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Hawks guard Louis Williams played the past four seasons together in Philadelphia (2008-12).

Mavericks forward Jae Crowder (Villa Rica), Mavericks center Bernard James (Savannah) and Williams (Snellville) all grew up in Georgia. Mavericks forward Brandan Wright and Hawks guard Anthony Morrow were teammates on the Golden State Warriors from 2008-10, and on the New Jersey Nets for part of the 2010-11 season. Wright was also a teammate of Hawks center Johan Petro and Harris on the Nets for the second half of the 2010-11 season. Dahntay Jones and Petro played the second half of the 2008-09 season together in Denver.

Hawks player development coach Nick Van Excel played in 100 games (three starts) for Dallas from 2002-03, averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 assists in 27.8 minutes. Hawks assistant coach Bob Weiss was an assistant with the Mavericks from1980-86…Hawks Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations Rick Sund helped assemble the first Mavericks roster in franchise history and was also the youngest general manager in NBA history (the expansion Dallas Mavericks hired him in 1979 at age 28).

Three Keys:

1. Protect the 3-point line. Atlanta ranks fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.385). Seven Hawks are making over .350 from distance – Kyle Korver (.464-first in the NBA), John Jenkins (.410-first among all NBA rookies), Jeff Teague (.401), DeShawn Stevenson (.385), Anthony Morrow (.378), Lou Williams (.367) and Jannergo Pargo (.350 in eight games with Atlanta). Dallas ranks 21st in the league in terms off opponent’s 3-point percentage (.365). The Hawks are susceptible to giving up big shooting performances from 3 as they rank 29th in the league in opponent’s 3-point percentage (.383).

2. Be prepared for Josh Smith’s versatility. Smith is athletically gifted and he uses that to his advantage as he has multiple facets to his game. In 646 career games, Josh Smith has averaged 15.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith is the only player in NBA history to boast career averages over 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game for his career. Smith is averaging 19.6 points on .493 percent shooting over the last eight games, scoring 20-plus points four times

3. Use your depth. The Hawks are going through the difficult process of playing without high-scoring sixth man Lou Williams, who is out for the season with a knee injury. The Mavericks are averaging 40.3 bench points per game this season, which ranks third in the NBA (Charlotte leads the league with 41.2 bench points per game, L.A. Clippers 40.4 bench points per game). Dallas scored a season-high 58 bench-points on three occasions (vs. Charlotte Nov. 3, vs. L.A. Lakers Nov. 24, at San Antonio Dec. 23). Dallas has scored at least 50 points off the bench eight times this season.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.