This is another team (like Detroit and Charlotte) that has given the Lakers fits in recent years, esp in Atlanta.
Last year, Horford simply out-physicaled LO and Pau. This team is athletic, young, and full of energy at home -- much like Philly and Portland. This will be a tough game. Matchup problems everywhere, and comes down to hustle.
Fish can keep Bibby from penetrating, but the inability to defend the pick and roll reared its ugly head against the Nets -- of course that was mostly Farmar and Benga. But Bibby thrives on it and can hit clutch 3s when Fish and Farmer go under/around screens. Fish needs to make Bibby work on defense to tire his legs and make Bibby try to be a finisher.
Ariza and/or Kobe on Joe Johnson will be fun. Hope Kobe's ankle is ok, otherwise we will be in big trouble as Kobe needs his legs for defense more than anything this game. He can get Joe in foul trouble if he looks to post him, and be a facilitator early, getting Pau and LO easy looks.
LO and Smith is where I worry. If Josh decides to be aggressive, look for LO to be in foul trouble, and have one of those damn fouls on a 3 point jump shot by Smith.
Al and Pau -- Pau needs to play with a passion. Attack the rim like he has shown in flashes against Duncan and Garnett, and let Horford know early this won't be like last year.
ATL is impossible to beat at home with an early lead and confidence. But when teams jump on them early - like Orlando did in a home and home with them, and Boston has done this year -- they fold. The first quarter will be the key. And it won't be easy, with the Hawks having a good home record and losing last night to Celts. Tough to beat them after a home loss. A lot stacked up against the Lakers -- Kobe ailing, Pau being tired, team on its 5th on a road trip, Jordan and Sasha really really really struggling, Powell being a no-show lately and being too slow to finish around the rim, Trevor not hitting his 3s consistently.......
Tough times......like when the Lakers went in and beat Boston and Cleveland when nobody expected them to......
I think we'll take this......and a couple of 3s by Sasha will be the key....just a feeling