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Hawks VS. Heat: What To Watch For (Besides LeBron James)

Technically, Monday's game was considered a National broadcast, but given the smallish distribution of viewers who have NBATV, tonight's game on TV marks the first truly nationally televised game of the year for the Hawks.  The Heat have been the team most over covered since the beginning of the preseason, so you probably know a little bit about them already.  Even if you do, here's an idea for

What To Watch For:

The Non-Big Three-Yes, we all know about Bosh, Wade, and LeBron.  Every analyst with any kind of an opinion about the NBA has spent hours of televised discussion about how the three of them will work together.  What I believe, and have always believed, is that the real test of the Heat will be the other guys.  The Heat will be a good team regardless, but the play of guys like Mike Miller (Thumb Injury), Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will determine whether they can be great. 

Jeff Teague-He should be back tonight, even though there's no news yet defining whether he's playing or not.  If he is, keep an eye on him, particularly on defense.  If the Hawks are going to make a jump into the elite tier from where they were last year, they have to get improved defense from their guards, particularly the point guard spot.  If Jeff Teague can improve the defense, the Hawks have a chance to make big strides.  We still don't really have a good idea about what Teague can do because of his limited usage last year, but two things he'll definitely need to work on offensively are ball-control and jumpshooting; other than that, he should be fine on that end of the court.

Body Language-It's still the preseason, which is the important thing to remember after the loss to Orlando.  Of course, Josh Smith isn't the ideal messenger when he tells us not to worry.  If you want to know just how much you can learn from tonight's game, body language will tell the story.  Hands on hips, heads downcast, slouched shoulders (aside from Marvin Williams) are indications that, hey, it's an exhibition game.  Keep in mind, if the Hawks win, you'll still probably hear sound bytes about how it's a statement.

Jumpshots-The offense was as bland as it has been when they faced the Magic on Monday.  There was a lot of motion that didn't really have an offensive purpose, and all the ball movement seemed to be aimed at generating jumpshots from 16-23 feet.  Ask any coach in the game, those are the worst possible looks you can.  Bobby Knight will give you a black eye for taking those.  What any well designed offense tries to do is get a player opportunities to score at the rim.  Without big Dwight holding down the center, look for the Hawks attempt to challenge inside more during this contest.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.