Dec 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) holds the ball as Atlanta Hawks power forward Elton Brand (42) defends in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Date: March 10, 2014
Tip-Off Time: 9:00 p.m.
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
The Atlanta Hawks need a win in the worst possible way, as after a 109-108 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night, the Hawks have now lost six games in a row and have dropped 14 of their last 15 games. The Hawks (26-35) will close out their west coast trip tonight in Utah against the Jazz (22-41), and they hope to close out their losing streak along with it.
After only winning twice in the entire month of February, the Hawks have started March out just as cold, still looking for a win this month. The Hawks received rave reviews from many, just over a month ago when they sat only behind Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference, but it has gone all down hill from there. Now just barely holding on to the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, which is extremely top heavy, the Hawks will need to make a run now to have any shot at any playoff aspirations.
After being injury-riddled throughout the season, this is as healthy as the Hawks will be. Al Horford, John Jenkins, and Gustavo Ayon are all out for the season, but Pero Antic and Paul Millsap seem to be back for good. Millsap has averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds in his first time games back after missing five games with a knee injury, and after playing 33 minutes against the Clippers on Saturday, it appears that Millsap is ready to contribute without any further limitations.
Fortunately for the Hawks, they get Utah tonight, who seems more interested in the prospect of collecting game changing ping-pong balls for next years draft rather than actually winning games now. The Jazz have struggled all season long to find any consistency and find themselves in last place in the Northwest Division. At 94.5 points per game, the Jazz have the third lowest scoring output per game in the entire league. Although the Jazz have five players that average double-digits in scoring, their leader, Gordon Hayward only averages 16 points per game. For lack of a better term, they lack a super-star caliber player that is able to carry the majority of the load, and perhaps don’t have enough good role players to make up for the fact that they do not have a go-to guy. Much like the Hawks, the Jazz have had a tough go of it lately, their 104-92 win over the Sixers on Saturday broke a five game losing streak.
If there is a saving grace for the Hawks, other than being relatively healthy it is that the schedule is back on their side. Five of their next six opponents are all under .500 and consist mostly of teams that are vying for the worst record in the league, that stretch will start tonight against the Jazz.
For the Hawks, its a homecoming of sorts as 3/5 starters once played for the Utah Jazz. In seven seasons with the club, Millsap, who was a late second round draft pick, averaged 12.4 points per game and seven rebounds per game, predominately coming off the bench. Kyle Korver averaged 8.7 points per game over three seasons with the Jazz and in 2009-2010 set an NBA record in Utah for 3-point field goal percentage at 53.6% and prior to this season DeMarre Carroll had his best two seasons with the Jazz.
Our friends in Las Vegas actually list the Hawks as 1-point favorites (down from 2.5 this morning) in Salt Lake City, which certainly represents a nod toward some respect for the Hawks roster that now includes Paul Millsap and Pero Antic.
Be sure to follow us on twitter (@ATLBeatBlog) and stop by tonight after the game for a full recap.