1. Mo and Flip have to play big. If Marvin Williams does not play, the Hawks are going with a seven-man rotation with Mo in the starting lineup and Flip off the bench. These guys were picked up in August by GM Rick Sund and few in Atlanta paid any attention (check my blog, I was calling for the Evans signing before he signed). The combination is averaging almost 15 ppg in this series. Tonight, they both need to score in double figures.
2. The Hawks have to get to the foul line and convert. A high number of free throw attempts means that you are getting shots in the paint either on drives to the basket, transition cuts, or post moves. Atlanta is averaging 24 attempts per game from the line on 71 percent shooting. They need to get to the foul line 35 times tonight and shoot a high percentage.
3. Mike Bibby has to get more open three-point shot attempts.. He is attempting under five shots per game from three-point land in this playoff series. I do not think he is being aggressive enough on the offensive end. Granted, the Heat are keying on him with Mario Chalmers, who never has to double team anyone in the post. The Hawks need to look for Bibby on quick kick-outs after offensive rebounds. Bibby must be more aggressive and call his own number more tonight.
4. Al Horford must step up. Horford is highly respected in basketball circles all around the country. He is looked at as the next great power forward for USA basketball. The problem is that Jermaine O’Neal has exposed him as an undersized center who has trouble guarding a bigger player. Horford has to get physical on the offensive end. He has to attack the basket. He has to match Zaza Pachulia’s energy. Horford is averaging 2 offensive rebounds per game in this series. Tonight, he needs to man up and get about six offensive rebounds and convert them into scores.
5. Will the real Joe Johnson please stand up? Forget about his low scoring numbers. In the regular season, Super Joe averaged almost 6 assists versus 2.5 turnovers per game. Those numbers are close to being reversed against the Heat. Johnson needs to be a playmaker and let the offense come to him. When the Heat double him on the perimeter, he needs to attack the double and create open shots for teammates. The Hawks' bigs, especially Josh Smith and Horford, need to cut to open areas and to the basket for easy scores. I have a great feeling that JJ is going to play his best game of the series tonight and lead the Hawks to a 3-2 series advantage.