The Sonics need to win. They need to start a winning streak tonight. There is little else to be said. The numbers don't matter, the opponent does not matter, the Sonics simply need to start winning now. Fortunately tonight they face a team they have already beaten (though barely) and who is struggling. The Hawks were on a hot streak when last we saw them, but have only won 3 of their last 10 games. They are likely to be looking to continue a streak of their own having beat Portland on Monday, and may want revenge for the overtime loss to the Sonics that started their losing ways.
The Hawks are 20th in the league offensively, scoring 106 points per 100 possessions which is down from their number 12 spot last year with 108.1. They have a three prong offense with Joe Johnson, Tyronn Lue and Zaza Pachulia leading the way. They have some capable young role players who are still finding their way in the league like Josh Smith, Shelden Williams and Josh Childress.
The Sonics managed to control Lue in the last outing, while Johnson and Pachulia ran all over the Sonics defense. That still might have meant a blowout win for the Sonics except that they allowed the two Josh's (Smith and Childress) to run (and jump) all over them as well. The Sonics should look at containing Lue, and refrain from leaking off him on the perimeter to help the bigs, Lue WILL shoot the ball. The bench needs to stop the Josh's. They are young and can be rattled with some hard fouls and solid picks. Pachulia must be stopped. Nick is starting this time and again faces an opponent who (at 6'11") does not tower over him. His solid interior defense will be critical in keeping Zaza out of the game early (where he did his damage last time).
Post scoring needs to improve to raise morale for the team, the fans and simply to win this game in a deciding way. The Sonics don't need a third nailbiter in a row. They need to take control of this game early and maintain it through four consecutive quarters. As they did in Utah, the Sonics need to get Wilcox and Collison going early and let the shooters maintain control down the stretch. I think they need to break out the pick and roll with Luke/Nick early and often and switch to Ray/Rashard in the fourth quarter. I don't care about jump shots and runners from Nick, Chris or Johan. I want dunks, lots and lots of dunks. The Hawks don't have a lot of size down low. Punish them and take the ball inside early and often.
Are you listening, Earl? GET TO THE D*#$% FREE THROW LINE! I don't care how nice you are off the court, on the court I want you to be The Little Nasty. I want the guards to start trying to get better traction on their kicks when they see you at the scorers table. I want the coach looking down his bench for someone who can foul you on the perimeter. I want the bigs cringing when they see you bust past the perimeter defender. When you see that open three I want you to laugh in its face and drive right at the basket giggling with maniacal glee. Have I made myself clear?
Mickael...je pense que vous Ãªtes tres douÃ©, mais je voudrais voir les dunks! My french is lousy, but I hope you get the point.
I have a nasty pain in my neck which I twinged at the gym yesterday, so I am testy and have a short fuse. Please give me reasons to leap from my seat and say to hell with the pain rather than spend the evening moping in my seat and trying not to move my head the wrong way.