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Preview Play-In | Atlanta (9) – Charlotte (10)

Another very evenly matched opponent in this 2022 “play-in,” with an Atlanta team that has generally disappointed this season after reaching the conference finals last season and a Charlotte team that dreams of taking on this role. play in the final play-offs. Unfortunately for both teams, there will only be one winner and he will have to go through another cleaver contest, far from his base, to reach the final stage and challenge Miami.

Ninth in the East and thus hosting this first showdown, Atlanta came close to disaster with a more than slow start. In mid-January, Nate McMillan’s men recorded a record 17 wins for 25 losses!

But as in the previous exercise, the Hawks were able to finish strong, relying on an unplayable Trae Young through sequences and more reliable lieutenants, such as Bogdan Bogdanovic, who brought a second wind to the bench with the accuracy of his game after returning. from injury.

The Hawks managed to climb the slope to take 9th place. A small consolation given their previous campaign, especially since it will be necessary to struggle with a team from Charlotte which is not easy to maneuver and which arrives visibly better armed in “play-in” than last year.

The Hornets also had their share of setbacks as they had to compose without Gordon Hayward since February and the latter returned for a game in early April before returning to infirmary. Nevertheless, Charlotte will approach this new test with more certainty than last season, when Michael Jordan’s protégés were knocked out, and even wiped out, on the same podium on the Pacers floor.

LaMelo Ball plays with more confidence, Miles Bridges also has a more assertive status and the North Carolina franchise has been able to make good adjustments with the arrival of Isaiah Thomas from the bench in the lead and especially Montrezl Harrell to strengthen his racket, the big weak point of the Hornets in the early part of the season. Not forgetting the presence of a Kelly Oubre Jr, able to catch fire in the role of 6th man.

The whole therefore seems more coherent, even if it was again necessary to reinvent itself around the Ball-Rozier-Bridges trio after the withdrawal of the “go-to guy” from the team. Will the playoffs experience tip the game in the Hawks’ favor? It’s up to the Hornets to prove otherwise.

PRESENTATION OF THE HAWKS

Holders: T. Youg, K. Huerter, D. Hunter, D. Gallinari, C. Capela.
The replacements: D. Wright, B. Bogdanovic, T. Luwawu-Cabarrot, K. Knox, O. Okongwu, G. Dieng, S. Cooper, S. Mays, J. Johnson
the absent : L. Williams, J. Collins.
the coach: N. McMillan.

Injuries to Lou Williams and John Collins will clearly hamper Nate McMillan’s bench. With Danilo Gallinari instead of Collins in position 4, the five majors show a different profile, but that also has its strengths.

The 1-5 axis doesn’t have much to envy for the best doubles in the league and the whole thing is graced with lesser choice shooters like Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari and De’Andre Hunter.

The Hawks’ strength had to be in their couch depth. Even without Lou Williams, the presence of the Wright-Bogdanovic pair on the back posts is still a guarantee of quality, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot’s profile could prove useful on defensive missions.

The strong point

The Young-Bogdanovic couple† It is enough to look at the last two intense playoff-style games played (and lost) by the Hawks at the end of the regular season, in Toronto and then Miami, to realize the importance of these two players. Nate McMillan. Together, Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic are able to smother their opponents through impressive runs in short sequences. They are also able to keep the Hawks alive even after a big hole. One is distinguished by his talent and brilliant moves, the other by the accuracy and regularity of his play, both with a complete attacking palette. It won’t be enough for this competition to go one way or the other, but if this tandem is in top form, you might as well say Charlotte has to hold on!

The weak point

Defense† Of all the teams competing for the postseason, Atlanta is the one with the worst defensive efficiency at over 112 points against an average of 100 possession. At this point, the Hawks and the Hornets are quite similar, in their ability to win games through big offensive runs rather than the other way around. But we know the importance of the defensive aspect in the final phase. Around Clint Capela, Nate McMillan’s men will have to up their level at this point, and the key will be to stop the Hornets’ pace. If the Hawks go into attacking play, they will have a hard time imposing themselves.

HORNET PRESENTATION

Holders: L. Ball, T. Rozier, M. Bridges, P. Washington, M. Plumlee.
The replacements: I. Thomas, K. Oubre. C. Martin, J. McDaniels, M. Harrell, J. Bouknight, J. Thor, N. Richards.
The absent: G. Hayward.
the coach: J. Borrego.

The Hornets were able to rebalance their forces during the season by offering Mason Plumlee a real rotation in position 5 after the arrival of Montrezl Harrell.

The outside positions are pretty well secured with the Ball-Rozier-Bridges triplet and the diversity of profiles coming off the bench between the experience of Isaiah Thomas, the defense of Cody Martin and the outside address (though irregular) of Kelly Oubre Jr. So there remains the question of position 4 that James Borrego has been strumming on since Gordon Hayward’s injury, between shifting Miles Bridges to take KOJ in 3 or putting PJ Washington in, the solution ultimately chosen by the Hornets- strategist.

The whole thing is clearly interesting and the style of play has gotten a little more appealing every year since James Borrego arrived. But the 2021/22 fiscal year will remain a failure if his group were to stop at this first stage in Georgia.

The strong point

The attack† The Hornets have a record of 9 wins to 1 defeat when the team hits 130 points! The enthusiasm of the youth allowed James Borrego to articulate his attack around two strengths, transition play and 3-point shooting. There too, the device is quite similar to that of Atlanta with four external threats surrounded by a fixed pole 5, which does not deviate. In a league where 3-point shooting has never been more prevalent, Charlotte is in pretty good shape by being in the league’s Top 5 for baskets scored behind the arc (14 average per game). The presence of two makers of the caliber LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier is also valuable on set, providing the Hornets with enough range to destabilize their opponents.

The weak point

The lack of experience† The arrival of Isaiah Thomas and Montrezl Harrell may have changed the game a bit, but James Borrego still heads a workforce that averages just under 25 years old. Granted, Mason Plumlee has 60 playoff games on the clock, but has never played a major part (under 15 minutes on average), while Terry Rozier hasn’t played in the playoffs in three years. Just like last year, this will be the challenge for these Hornets: trying to sublimate themselves in an away game without having to look back at the experience and intensity of a “postseason” game against a strong team. little changed.

THE KEY TO THE MATCH

The Young/Ball duel† Trae Young can recall that he is indeed one of the very best point guards in the league. The Hawks star ended the season on a cannonball, racking up 30 points and 10 assists in the final month of the competition. His ability to disrupt the opponent’s defense with his full play, being able to hurt from afar (or even very far), or drive to finish or find his teammates in a preferred position will be one of the keys are until the Atlanta side game.

Before him, he will find a conductor who will also be determined to prove his worth at the highest level. Lonzo Ball’s brother also seems to have reached a new milestone in the second half of the season. He has refined his game and shown more consistency. Against Trae Young, his size can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. In any case, the duel will be very interesting to watch, and whichever of the two is most committed to the defense could be decisive.

NORMAL SEASON

2-2

November 21st : Atlanta- Charlotte (115-105)
Dec 5: Atlanta -Charlotte (127-130)
January 23: Charlotte– Atlanta (91-113)
March 16: Charlotte– Atlanta (116-106)

JUDGMENT

ATLANTA. As is often the case in this phase of the competition, advantage for the team that plays in front of the crowd, but also for the most experienced team. These are exactly the two trump cards of the Hawks, who also have the best player in the confrontation. A Trae Young capable of all the madness we saw against the Knicks last season.

O’CLOCK

At 01:00 this Wednesday evening.

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