Pistons-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

Although he played a key role for Atlanta during its streak of postseason appearances, Josh Smith claims the Hawks made no effort to re-sign him in the offseason.

Smith will likely find some extra motivation Wednesday night when he returns to Philips Arena for the first time since signing with the Detroit Pistons over the summer.

Pistons coach Mo Cheeks said he hasn't had to warn Smith about keeping his composure.

"He's not that kind of player," Cheeks said. "He's not a guy to go out and try to get 30 or 35 points anyway, so I don't think you talk to him."

Smith played nine seasons with the Hawks, becoming the only NBA player to average at least 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal since blocks and steals became an official league statistic four decades ago.

He helped Atlanta reach the postseason the past six years and ranks in the franchise's top 10 in games played (676), points (10,371), rebounds (5,407), free throws made (2,044), steals (857) and blocked shots (1,440).

It was long assumed that the Hawks (6-5) had at least attempted to re-sign Smith. According to reports, however, Smith told an Atlanta radio station Monday that the team did not make a serious attempt to bring him back.

After signing a $54 million, four-year contract with the Pistons (4-6) in July, the Atlanta native might be especially motivated to continue his recent strong play.

Following one of his worst performances in a 2-point effort at Golden State on Nov. 12, Smith has averaged 19.3 points while hitting 7 of 17 from 3-point range over his last three contests.

The veteran forward finished with 19 points and Rodney Stuckey had 21 off the bench as the Pistons beat New York for the first time in eight meetings, 92-86 on Tuesday.

The Pistons, who will try to win consecutive games for the first time this season, have dropped nine straight in Atlanta. Detroit hasn't beaten the Hawks on the road since a 94-90 victory on Feb. 12, 2008 - a game in which Smith scored 30 points.

Atlanta had won four of five before a 104-88 loss at Miami on Tuesday. The Hawks were held under 100 points for only the second time in 11 games.

"They take away something," said coach Mike Budenholzer of the Heat. "Hopefully you can find something else. At times we did and at times we didn't."

Jeff Teague will look to bounce back after scoring a season-low nine on 4-of-13 shooting. The point guard is having a breakout season with team highs of 18.5 points and 8.8 assists per game.

Al Horford, who has a combined 24 points and nine rebounds in his last two games, averaged 21.0 points and 15.7 boards to help Atlanta take two of three against Detroit last season.

The Hawks will look to take advantage of a Pistons team that has allowed an average of 107.4 points and a 51.4 shooting percentage while dropping four of five on the road.

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe may pose a challenge in the paint for Atlanta, which could be without forward Paul Millsap after he sat out Tuesday because of right elbow tendinitis.

Drummond has averaged 14.8 points and 14.4 rebounds over a streak of five straight double-doubles, while Monroe is averaging 16.4 and 9.4 through 10 games.

Brandon Jennings will try to get back on track after he played through an upset stomach and finished with a season-low two points against the Knicks. While with Milwaukee, he totaled 55 points, 14 assists and eight 3s in his last two games at Atlanta.

The Pistons host the Hawks on Friday night to close this home-and-home set.

What to Read Next