Game Thread: Spurs see themselves in Hawks

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Al Horford says the playing the NBA champion Spurs will be a good measuring stick for the Hawks. (AJC File)

The Hawks are back in action tonight at the Spurs. It’s hard to believe the Lakers, Rockets and Thunder have already played five games before the Hawks play a third.

Spurs forward and former Hawk Boris Diaw said this week that playing Atlanta is like looking in the mirror because of the similarities in systems.

I asked a few people about that following Tuesday’s practice before the team departed for San Antonio. Here is what they said:

Mike Budenholzer: “Hopefully, there are some good, solid, fundamental things that we’ve brought to Atlanta. I think more and more teams are doing similar things. Hopefully that familiarity will help us more than it will help them.”

Al Horford: “They are pretty smooth and they know all their places. We are much better but they have been running that system for a long time and we are trying to be the best we can under that type of play.”

– DeMarre Carroll: “It’s the same looking back. We are trying to get to the level that they are at. We run similar system. Coach Bud has been trying to put it in our heads that we have to run it just as hard as they do – or harder.”

Budenholzer and the players said they are aware of what’s coming when a call comes in from the Spurs’ bench. The terminology might be slightly different but there are few surprises. If you know what’s coming does it matter, especially with the Spurs?

“Sometimes it doesn’t,” Budenholzer said. “You’d like to think it does or would but more often than not sometimes it’s like good old-fashioned football – you know what’s coming and you still can’t stop it.”

Last season, the Hawks nearly pulled off an upset of the eventual champion Spurs in San Antonio. Tim Duncan scored with .4 seconds left for a 102-100 victory Dec. 2.

* Horford said he sees the game, although early in the season, as a good measuring stick for the Hawks.

“I think you can look at it like that,” he said. “They are the defending champs. Obviously, we still have a lot of things we need to work on but it’s a good test for us to see where we are at a team.”

* As I posted yesterday, rookie Adreian Payne will not play as he continues to battle plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

* In a lighter note from Tuesday’s practice, I asked the Florida Gator Horford about their college football win over Georgia Saturday. Horford took delight in the lopsided Florida victory, even as he plays in the middle of Bulldog Nation.

“I called it publically,” Horford said. “It feels good. The radio show, 92.9, I told them my Gators were going to win and everybody mocked me and made fun of me. It feels good. It feels good to prove people wrong.”


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