The Hawks have won six straight games over the Trail Blazers, the longest current streak of any Portland opponent. This will be the 100th meeting between the two teams, and Atlanta's current winning streak has them ahead, 50-49.
Earlier this season the Hawks defeated the Blazers 92-89 at the Highlight Factory behind 24 points from Joe Johnson and a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) from Josh Smith. Smith also came up big on the defensive end, limiting LaMarcus Aldridge's production down the stretch. Former Hawk Jamal Crawford led Portland with 22 points in the first meeting.
Hawks - Al Horford (pectoral muscle) and Jason Collins (elbow) are both out.
Trail Blazers - LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle) is day-to-day and Greg Oden is out.
Keys to the Game:
LaMarcus Aldridge has missed the last two games after spraining his left ankle early in the Blazers' loss to the Wizards last Tuesday. Portland is hopeful that Aldridge will be able to return against Atlanta, and Larry Drew is preparing for the game like the Hawks will have to deal with the All-Star power forward.
In the first meeting Aldridge finished with 20 points, but Josh Smith was effective in guarding him in crunch time. LaMarcus tried to use his size advantage and get position deep in the lane, but Smoove worked hard to keep him away from the basket and settling for contested jump shots.
The benches might be the most important variable in this game. Hawks fans know all too well how Jamal Crawford can score in bunches. On the Hawks side, the versatility of this team's bench challenge Coach Drew to find the winning combination down the stretch. For example, LD played Willie Green and Kirk Hinrich big minutes in the fourth quarter in Phoenix, and also played Vladamir Radmanovic down the stretch. Also, Tracy McGrady could be a wild card after getting extra rest by sitting out Wednesday's win..
- Marvin Williams and Portland guard Raymond Felton were teammates at North Carolina when the Tar Heels won the 2005 NCAA championship.
- Hawks assistant coach Lester Conner starred at Oregon State from 1980-82.