Continuing with our matchup theme here, we now move to the Southeast division. Coming into this offseason, the Southeast division was one of the most competitive divisions in the league. A division that includes the defending champion Miami Heat, Dwight Howard and his Magic Men, and Joe Johnson spearheading a very talented Atlanta Hawks team.
But now that Howard has been shipped off to Hollywood and Joe Johnson taking his talents to Brooklyn this division has taken a hit. Today I will be analyzing how the New York Knicks will match up against their Southeast Division counterparts, the Atlanta Hawks. Both teams have been very talented the last couple of years but have fell short of expectations in the playoffs. Lets see how both teams that have been labeled as championship “pretenders” would fair against one another.
Raymond Felton/Jason Kidd/Pablo Prigioni vs. Devin Harris/ Jeff Teague
The Knicks point guards will certainly have their hands full when guarding both Devin Harris and Jeff Teague. Both are scoring point guards with the ability to score in bunches and relish the opportunity to beat their opponents off the dribble. Both Jason Kidd and Pablo and Prigioni will have trouble staying in front of either one of these speedster sand the Hawks would be wise taking advantage of this mismatch. While Felton should fair well against either one of these guards and would keep them honest on the other end of the floor.
The Knicks have the edge here because of the experience factor. Yes the Hawks have more firepower here but Devin Harris hasn’t been effective since his days on the New Jersey Nets and Jeff Teague still hasn’t been consistent despite the upside in his game. The Knicks’ floor generals should be able to out craft the young guns in Atlanta.
Ronnie Brewer/Jr. Smith/ Iman Shumpert vs. Anthony Morrow/ Lou Williams/ John Jenkins
Currently the Knicks’ shooting guard rotation is looking rather thin with both Iman Shumpert and Jr. Smith rehabbing from surgery. No matter, Jr. Smith will be getting the start here and will give the Knicks great scoring versatility and willing defense at times.
Despite losing All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson, the Atlanta Hawks have added Lou Williams to fill in the scoring void–something he can certainly do. Anthony Morrow over the last year showed why he’s one of the best three-point shooters in the game today with a career average of 42.6 percent from downtown. Rookie John Jenkins won’t see much time in this matchup especially with the sticky fingers and quick triggers from both Morrow and Williams here.
The Hawks have the advantage here simply because we don’t know how healthy either Shumpert and Brewer–two of the Knicks best perimeter defenders–will be when they come back which they will surely need against Morrow and Williams.
Carmelo Anthony/ Steve Novak/ James White/ Chris Copeland vs. Deshwan Stevenson/ Kyle Korver
Not to be dramatic but Carmelo Anthony will simply demolish the Hawks here.
Anthony could easily for 30 to 40 points here because the Hawks don’t have anyone to stop him. Indeed Deshawn Stevenson has carved a career on the defensive end, but he cannot check Carmelo Anthony–then and now–especially now that he’s even getting schooling in the post with Hakeem Olajuwon now. Kyle Korver has always been a three-pointer shooter and nothing else so the Hawks will have to pray they can keep Anthony from dropping 50 points.
Amar’e Stoudemire/ Kurt Thomas vs.Josh Smith/Jordan WIlliams/ Mike Scott
I’ll probably get a ton of heat for this, but Josh Smith is a better player than Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire is tremendous basketball player, an All-Star, a dominant pick and roll finisher but he doesn’t impact the game the way Josh Smith does.
Josh Smith plays on both ends of the floor. He can stuff a stat sheet like very few do in the league today but yet he isn’t a an All-Star. Indeed he had his maturity and coaching problems but he has come a long way and last year was an amazing year for the talented power forward.
The Hawks win here because Josh Smith can definitely guard Stoudemire with his freakish athleticism but I can’t say the same for Stoudemire even with his new found commitment to defense.
Tyson Chandler/Marcus Camby vs. Al Horford/Zaza Pachulia/Johan Petro
I really love this defensive tandem of Chandler and Camby because even with Camby’s age the Knicks don’t love much with their defensive intensity, rim protecting, and floor leadership.
Although Horford is more naturally a power forward, he has still been effective at this position and still have much room for improvement. Zaza Pachulia is an enforcer of sorts for the Hawks but he has lost his edge over the years.
The Knicks win here because of the mobility of Chandler will cancel out Horford’s perimeter game he uses to his advantage against most centers in the league today.
Mike Woodson vs. Larry Drew
Mike Woodson definitely has the edge here because he was the head coach that was replaced with Larry Drew. Woodson should be able to play to Hawks’ weaknesses sinced he has coached both Smith and Horford. This battle will come down to which style of play prevails. The Knicks would need to slow the tempo and play a half court game. While the Hawks would be most effective getting out and running and pushing the tempo any chance they get.
In a seven game series the Knicks should be able to go over the Hawks in 6 or 7 games. The Knicks after this offseason are a more complete and title ready team than the Hawks are now. I would only say seven games if the Hawks really utilize the scoring power of its backcourt and possibly speed up the tempo of these games.