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A Bird Fight the Day After Thanksgiving

Much like the Pelicans, the Hawks at 7-6 are trying to figure out if they're a true playoff contender.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, New Orleans beat Atlanta in both of their meetings, including a 111-105 win at the Phillips Arena. In that game, Anthony Davis was a monster, putting up 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. As a team, that win sparked the team to their longest win streak of the season of 5 games including wins over the Heat, Nets and Clippers.

Same Faces But Their Man in the Middle is Back

The Hawks are nearly the identical team from a year ago with the only noticeable differences being they added Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore and lost Lou Williams and Gustavo Ayon.

However, for the first time since February 8, 2013, Al Horford will be in the lineup to face our franchise. His career has recently been derailed due to two pectoral muscle tears, costing him largely 2 of the last 3 NBA seasons.

Even though he hasn't made an All-Star game since 2011, don't be fooled, Horford remains one of the better bigs in the game. He has perennially been of the better defensive rebounders and one of the most efficient from the perspective of field goal percentages.

Circling Hawks

As it's been mentioned, the Hawks have a less than impressive W/L record. Acknowledging their opponents to date, that's not very good, and recently, they lost at home to the cellar-threatening Los Angeles Lakers. Their only win of note occurred just several days ago when they beat the Washington Wizards.

Their problem child to start this season has been their defense. They have been terrible at both dissuading opponent from making shot attempts and grabbing defensive boards. Considering their past track record, this is mildly surprisingly, but hopefully, it will be areas the Pelicans can take advantage of taking into account the team's offensive efficiency and ability to clean up on the offensive glass.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Slow down Jeff Teague. The Hawks' point guard has been on fire of late. In his last four games, he's averaging 25.8 points, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals a game. Jrue Holiday will need to limit that scorching 51.6 FG% by cutting down Teague's forays into the paint. If Jrue can replicate the job he did on Ty Lawson last week, Atlanta's biggest weapon will be disarmed.
  2. Pound the glass. The Pelicans will have a distinct size advantage in the front court. With Asik hopefully near or at 100%, the team needs to get back to beating up on opponents in the paint. The Hawks give up a league worst 17.1 second chance points. With how hot/cold our shooting has been this season, a bunch of easy additional chances would be very welcome.
  3. Stay with their shooters. The Hawks love to shoot the three point shot and are adept at doing so. Kyle Korver is shooting a ridiculous 55.9% from deep, but the Pelicans also need to be conscious of Teague, Mike Scott, DeMarre Carroll and even Paul Millsap. The motto needs to follow the cliche -- stay at home on the shooters -- and trust Asik and Davis to individually handle their assignments.
The Hawks have started the season more inauspiciously than the Pelicans, but they are one of the few Eastern Conference teams that have the talent to win against the West.

The gameplan should be relatively straightforward, and coming off their lackadaisical performance against the Kings, the focus should be there. After the disappointment over the amount of Davis' touches in the last game, look for the Brow to shine again (and most likely end up with at least 20 shot attempts).