The Other Side: Atlanta Hawks

You're such a show off! (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

After failing in an attempt to avenge their worst loss of the season against Orlando, the Washington Wizards get a shot at the Atlanta Hawks, who handed them arguably their most disheartening loss of season.

Ten days ago, the Wizards led by four points with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining but allowed the Hawks to hit back-to-back three-pointers - the first by Joe Johnson, the second by Marvin Williams - and failed to get the ball in the hands of either Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison before losing 91-87.

A victory that night may have spared Eddie Jordan his job, but so could many others.

Once again, the Wizards get the Hawks on the second end of back-to-back games, coming off a loss. And again, the Hawks will not have Josh Smith, who has missed three weeks with sprained left ankle but is moving closer to a comeback. But this time, the Hawks will have center Al Horford, who missed the last game with a sprained right ankle. Horford returned with 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in a 102-96 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Hawks lost 93-88 in Toronto on Friday night, and have gone 3-6 since their red-hot 6-0 start.

But here is what else you should know about the Hawks heading into the rematch tonight at Verizon Center:

1. Joe Johnson Is In A Slump
Johnson was a serious tear the first 10 games of the season, averaging better than 25 points and failing to score at least 20 points in just two games. But having to carry the load without Smith and Horford caused him to has slow down considerably - starting with the game against the Wizards, when he had just 19 points and missed 15 of his 22 shot attempts.

In the past five games, Johnson is averaging 17.2 points on 33.8 (27 of 80) shooting. He has only topped 20 points once, and after he scored a season-low four points in a loss against Cleveland, it was revealed that he is playing with a sprained toe in his right foot.

2. Marvin Williams's Decisive Three-Pointer Wasn't A Fluke
When Williams hit the game-winning three-pointer against Washington on Nov. 19, the shot looked rushed and it lacked any form whatsoever. But it doesn't matter how it looks, as long as it goes in, right?

Williams actually has been working on his long-distance jumper at he behest of Coach Mike Woodson. A career 23 percent percent three-pointer shooter coming into this season, Williams is now shooting 45.7 percent (16-for-35) from beyond the arc. He has made a three-pointer in nine of the Hawks' 15 games.

3. The Hawks Might Be For Real
The Hawks are having their best month of November in 11 years, and they have already overcome a difficult schedule (after tonight, the Hawks would have played 10 of their first 16 games on the road). They have a stretch of eight consecutive home games in December, and they are 5-1 at Philips Arena this season.

The Hawks have also improved defensively. They have held four of their past five opponents - and 10 overall - under 100 points.

Smith's ankle has kept him out of action the past 11 games, but his return appears imminent. Most likely, he will make his return Wednesday against Memphis, the team that signed him to a five-year, $58-million offer sheet last summer.

Thirty-seven wins likely won't land a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season, as it did last year for the Hawks. But Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen provides five reasons why the Hawks should be able to overcome so many years of false promise and be in the playoff mix all season.

By Michael Lee |  November 29, 2008; 2:28 PM ET
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Joe Johnson is in a slump; not after he see's the wizard's defense,the wiz are good for what ails you,the good news; Josh Smith won't play the bad news; the Hawks don't need him. Lets see what Mr.Tapscott has in store for these Hawks,who in spite of their coach will win,Mike Woodson is from the Bobby Knight school of coaching he was almost fired last year but the young Hawks led by Joe Johnson,and Mike Bibby got the Hawks to the playoffs and saved his job by extending the Celts to seven games in the first round and then the Hawks opened this season with six straight wins, they are young,athletic,and will play defense on occasion what makes them tough is they play around the rim with Al Horford,Marvin Williams,and Josh Smith(when healthy) they are a legitimate threat to make some noise in the East and guess what? they have depth, hear that Ernie Grunfeld? you might want to take some notes on how to put a team together.Tonight will be very interesting indeed.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 29, 2008 5:47 PM

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