Phil said he was going to make some line up changes, I imagine the main one will be taking George out of the starting line up, and putting Rush in it (like Phil did for the start of the 2nd half against the Nuggets).
This should be an easy matchup for Payton, if he comes into it with as much intensity as he did against the Nuggets. Terry will be weak and tired. He is recovering from the flu and didn't even start against the Kings, Tuesday, because he was feeling so bad, and he only played 20 minutes. We need an aggressive Payton, one that drives to the basket, shoots more, gets 25+ points, and plays good defense. He can take advantage of Terry being sick, and Vaughn shouldn't be any problem for him. We need the "Glove" tonight, because Terry will try and score points, that's what he does, he's the Hawks 2nd leading scorer, sick or not he is going to shoot. Payton can smother him on D, get him tired, and force him to be taken out of the game. And then have smooth sailing vs. Vaughn. Expect a solid night from #20.
Rush/Diaw & Glover:
This matchup shouldn't be much of a problem for Rush. Diaw has been starting recently and getting a good bit of minutes, but neither him or Glover can score, they average a combined total of 14 points a game. We need Rush to do as well starting, as he has coming off the bench. If he comes out there and tries, but doesn't force anything, then he will give us at least 16 points. He does need to stay with both of these Hawks' though, Diaw will try and drive to the basket whenever he gets the chance, but Glover will shoot mid range jumpers and 3's, Rush has to guard each. And we will get to see how he does guarding both of the different guy's styles. He will probably do better against Diaw, because he is still learning and turns it over a good bit.
For us to win, Kobe has to have 40+, end of story. He can get it against Jackson who isn't exactly a defensive specialist. Kobe has to play aggressive ball for all 48 minutes. I want Kobe to not go out of the game when he is feeling it, he can just tell Phil no he won't go out (he did it last year), Phil tends to sit Kobe too long, we get down by a lot and Kobe is cold when he returns, Kobe can't let that happen. Kobe has to win this game for us, because no one else (with the exception of Gary) will do it, he has to take charge and lead us to a win. We cannot lose to the Hawks, they are the 3rd worst team in the league, teams will see this as a huge sign of weakness if we drop tonight, and nobody knows this better that Bryant. I want Kobe to shoot whenever he gets the ball, who cares if he shoots 30 something shots, if no one else will take or make them, someone has to, Kobe just needs to demand the ball like Shaq does. Kobe also has to play good D, he needs to stop the former Spur, and not let him have a good game. Jackson will get 25+ points if Kobe doesn't stop him, if Kobe can limit his production to about 10-12 points, I will be thrilled.
The main reason why we need big solid games from Kobe, Rush, and Payton is because we will get nothing from Slava and Grant, Atl's frontcourt is too good for them to get anything. I doubt we will even know Slava is out there, the only way we will is when we see Reef knock down shot after shot, due to not being guarded well. Slava can't play D, Shareef knows this, and will utilize this rare opportunity to play however he wants to on both ends of the court. He will get 25 and 15 easy, without even breaking a sweat. Slava just needs to forget about trying to shoot, because he won't be able to, and needs to focus 100% of his energy on trying
to play defense and grab some boards, because Shareef will help expose our weakness at the pf position even more. Hopefully Cook can come on and play how he did against KG, maybe he plays better against all stars, he will see a fair share of time against Shareef, let's just hope he doesn't get into foul trouble and can make his future as a Laker look even brighter.
Poor Grant, he is going to get killed tonight. Theo is going to block whatever Horace tries to shoot, rebound every ball he misses, and embarrass him on offense. Theo will have nothing stopping him from getting a ton of rebounds and blocks tonight. Theo is only averaging 7 ppg, let's not let him get too much above that (14 would be acceptable). I expect to see a lot of Sampson tonight. He is a bigger, younger, more athletic center than Grant who might have better luck on Theo than Horace will have. Sampson, also has to stay out of foul trouble, because we are going to need him. He can even contest some of Ratliff's shots and prevent him from shooting much. If he can beat Ratliff to some boards, then that will help us.