Scouting The Opponents: Heat And Hawks

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Containing Al Horford

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The key to beating the Atlanta Hawks is slowing down Al Horford.

He’s currently third in the league is double-doubles. When Horford is on the court, the Hawks offensive efficiency hovers around 105, which would be a top-10 figure. Without him, though, the Hawks offense completely falls apart, scoring below 97 points per 100 possessions, which would rank dead last in the league.

The Hawks like to play small, with Horford acting as the de facto center in Atlanta’s three most used five-man line-ups this season. This style suits the Knicks, as it allows them to play with Carmelo Anthony at the four spot, opening up the floor for Felton-Chandler pick-and-rolls, and kickouts.

The Knicks were able to limit Horford to 33 minutes in their first matchup by getting him in foul trouble. The Knicks will likely use a variety of defenders on him this time around, rotating fresh bodies onto him in the form of Chandler, Kenyon Martin, and even Carmelo Anthony.

If New York is forced to double team Horford to keep him from beating them, they’ll have to rotate and close out hard on Kyle Korver. It makes sense for the Knicks to try and get the ball out of Horford’s hands, but they’ll have to be aware of Korver’s location on the court at all times. Korver is shooting a blistering 45.5% from behind the arc this season, good for second in the league behind only Jose Calderon (and Korver has attempted 100 more three-pointers than Calderon).

If the Knicks can get Horford in foul trouble, or use double teams to force someone else to beat them – as long as it’s not Korver – they should have a great chance of winning the back end of their mini two-game road trip.

What are some other keys to beating the Heat and Hawks, Knicks fans? 

Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images