Daniel Christian: For Hawks fans, the idea of missing Josh Smith seems to be a complicated one. Do we miss the errant three-pointers and 18-footers? Of course not. That's why he was showered with collective groans every time an upchuck was released from his persistent fingertips. Still, there's an emotional and somewhat irrational connection shared by him and the fan base. Smith is an Atlanta native. He represented Hawks basketball for nine years. In many ways, as I've often said, he was the perfect embodiment of the franchise: solid, reliable, versatile, but still frustrating and not quite good enough. So on your 1-24 scale, we miss the idea of Josh Smith at 3.The Hawks as a team are missing his defensive prowess both on the wings and in the interior, but the offense seems to have been upgraded by the addition of the level-headed Paul Millsap. So they miss him at 13.
Q: Al Horford and Paul Millsap are monsters, but I see Millsap is day-to-day with tendinitis. Shucks. Who has to step up for the Hawks against Detroit's big guys up front if Millsap can't go? (If Millsap is expected to play, how effective do you think he'll be?)
Daniel Christian: Given Detroit's strength down low, I think Elton Brand will have to step up in Millsap's potential absence. He's been serviceable on offense and he's one of the better interior defenders and rebounders on the team. I think Pero Antic will see an increase of minutes thanks to his offensive potential and ability to stretch the floor, but he hasn't shown any sort of defensive consistency. Horford will obviously have to carry a larger load on both ends of the floor and really, I think that's what the Hawks will have to rely on if they want to be successful up front. If Millsap goes, I think he could give the Detroit bigs trouble. I could see Smith having some success guarding him, but if he's at the 4 obviously it makes things difficult for Detroit and they'd likely have to match-up with that and play just two of Smith, Drummond, and Monroe. His ability to stretch the floor in such a movement-heavy offense could give Monroe and other Detroit bigs a lot of trouble.
Q: Kyle Korver is five games away from breaking former PISTON Dana Barros' all-time record for consecutive games with a made three. Korver's streak is at 84 games and I have to think he'll have no problem getting to 85 against the Pistons' dreadful perimeter defense. He might actually make 85 threes. Seriously, has Korver ever been more handsome?
Daniel Christian: Ashton Kutcher, uh, I mean Kyle Korver, has never, in fact, been more handsome. He's been so crucial to the Hawks' offensive spacing and he's a consistent transition-three threat. Really, I hope he breaks the record. He's getting damn close. It would be a shame to get all the way to 84 games and not break the record of 87. If he does end up making 85 threes against Detroit though, I think he should get a free Chevy or something. That's at least 255 points. That warrants some recognition, I guess. Maybe a statue outside Philips Arena or a shrine somewhere. I'm not sure. The Korver coronation plans are still being processed.
Q: Both teams played last night -- the Pistons squeezed by the Knicks at home and the Hawks got beat by the Heat in Miami. Who wins their back end of a back-to-back at 'The Highlight Factory' and why?
Daniel Christian: I'll say the Hawks win in the back-to-back. It's weird, though, because I've picked the Hawks in every Q&A I've done this year (which is 4 of them), and I've only been right once despite my best estimations. So take this for what it's worth, because anything can happen in a single game, obviously. Detroit's perimeter defense is shaky at best and I think Jeff Teague will have a field day and Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Lou Williams, and some of the stretch guys like Millsap and Antic will have open looks all night. Detroit has some strong defensive pieces inside with Smith and Drummond, so Atlanta might have to work outside-in. The Pistons' offense seems to lack elite shooting, so the Hawks' defensive struggles on the perimeter (which is often just inefficient perimeter rotations) won't be accentuated too much. Those struggles have permeated themselves all over the court though, so Horford and Brand will have to do what they can to stop the bleeding that might occur at the hands of Monroe, Drummond, and Smith.
Thanks again to Daniel Christian for taking the time to answer some of my questions. Head over to Peachtree Hoops for more on the Hawks and the answers I provided to his questions. What do you all feel are the biggest questions heading into the back end of the back-to-back?