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Game Thread: Josh Smith back in Atlanta

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Josh Smith, shown chasing Jeff Teague in a game last season, returned to Atlanta for an exhibition game Saturday.
Josh Smith, shown chasing Jeff Teague in a game last season, returned to Atlanta for an exhibition game Saturday.

Josh Smith, shown chasing Jeff Teague in a game last season, returned to Atlanta for an exhibition game Saturday.

The Hawks starting five will be reunited for Saturday night’s exhibition against the Pistons as Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford begin the game. According to coach Mike Budenholzer, expect the starters, including Horford, to play into the third quarter as he begins to ramp up their minutes toward the end of the preseason.

Elton Brand will dress but not play, according to Budenholzer.

* The Pistons starting five will feature a pair of familiar faces as Josh Smith and Cartier Martin (former Hawks) will join Brandon Jennings, Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond.

* With Smith back in town, I asked Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy about the local product and long-time Hawks star about his role with the team – including his propensity to shoot 3-pointers. Van Gundy said recently he wants Smith to shoot less from the outside (a sentiment long felt by Hawks fans).

Here is what Van Gundy said:

“He has taken five (3-pointers) through five games – and four of the five have been taken late in the shot clock. Look, we want Josh in the post and on the attack on the dribble. I think he’s a guy who can create a lot of shots for us, for himself and his teammates. His assist totals have been fabulous for us. He’s a very skilled and willing passer. He’s good around the basket, one of the elite finishers around the league. A lot of times we talk about what we don’t want people to do but Josh and I had a talk and it’s more what you want is everybody playing to their strengths. I mean play to what makes you a great player. Can Josh shoot 3’s? Sure. He is a great 3-point shooter? No, he’s not. Is he a great guy on the attack who can make passes? Yes, he is. Is he a great passer out of the post? Yes, he is. Let’s do those things. To me, it’s not the negative side of it, it’s the positive side of it. Not just for Josh, for everybody, let’s get you doing the things that you do well.”


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