Lakers vs. Hawks: 2 Keys to Victory

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 36-32 Los Angeles Lakers are at home tonight, ready to face the 30-37 Atlanta Hawks.

Coming off back-to-back losses in Sacramento and at home to Golden State, the Lakers sit as the tenth seed in the Western Conference, just three games back of the sixth seed with 14 games to go in the regular season.

Atlanta took home the victory in the first of the two matchups between these teams this season, scoring 138 points in the absence of superstar Anthony Davis.

Tonight, the LakeShow will look to start their playoff push, in what hopes to be a convincing win for Los Angeles. Let’s dive into our two keys to victory for tonight.

Hawks’ Defensive Struggles

The Atlanta Hawks have been a solid team offensively this season, ranking tenth in offensive rating at 117.0; however, they’ve struggled defensively, ranking third worst in defensive rating at 118.5.

Their transition defense accounts for a large portion of Atlanta’s defensive issues, as they allow the third most fastbreak points per game at 16.7. Their halfcourt defense has been inefficient, allowing the third-highest FG% and 3P% at 49.3 and 38.3, respectively. 

Fortunately for the Hawks, they have been a better defensive team since the All-Star break, improving their defensive rating to 110.8 in this time.

Though Atlanta has been stronger on the defensive end during this span, they are still susceptible to poor defensive outings, averaging a 121.5 defensive rating in losses compared to 100.0 in wins.

Streakiness in this category has been a particular weakness for this Hawks team, limiting opponents to 39.9% from the field and 30.8% from three in wins post-All-Star break, numbers that bump up to 50.1% and 42.3% in losses. 

The Lakers have been a solid offensive team at home since the All-Star break, averaging a 120.3 offensive rating in this span.

Shooting 52.0% from the field and 42.2% from three in home games during this stretch, the Lakers will lean on offensive playmakers such as Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and D’Angelo Russell to complement Anthony Davis and LeBron James to exploit the Hawks’ defensive problems.

Expect a dominant offensive night for the purple and gold.

Take Care of Business

With 14 games to go, the Lakers need to win every game to record 50 wins.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem too realistic; however, looking ahead at the strength of schedule moving forward for this team, there are only a couple of games against top opponents.

Tonight, as 8.5-point favorites in a matchup against a losing team at home, the Lakers will need to keep their foot on the gas and keep the energy up in a game they are expected to win. 

Ultimately, LA should have no problems dominating this Hawks team offensively and will need to play energetic defense to ensure Atlanta can’t keep up.

With a win tonight and a Warriors loss, the Lakers will slide back up into the ninth seed, building momentum for their final 13 games.

Expect arena to be loud tonight as the Lakers start their home stretch.

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