Atlanta Hawks guad Jeff Teague (0) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) during the second half at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 109-107. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Date: March 15, 2014
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 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
Who knew a two point win over the 22-44 Utah Jazz and a five point win over the 13-52 Milwaukee Bucks could be so important, but for the Atlanta Hawks; two razor close games against two of the leagues worst, could potentially have saved their season. Before the two victories the Hawks had dropped six in a row and had lost 14 of their last 15 games. With the lack of any sort of depth in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks did not fall completely out of playoff contention with their awful two months. In fact, the Hawks still have a very good chance to make the playoffs. At 28-35, the Hawks are stuck with eight seed currently in the Eastern Conference, but are only one game back in the loss column to seventh place Charlotte.
The Hawks will look to gain back more ground tonight in the Eastern Conference as they take on the Denver Nuggets (29-36.) Although the Nuggets may not look too good on paper, they do a few things well that might cause the Hawks problems. The Nuggets are fifth in the league in offensive rebounds, fifth in blocked shots, and fifth in free throws attempted this season. The Nuggets are allowing almost 106 points per game, which is near the bottom in the NBA.
Jeff Teague was huge in the Hawks 102-97 victory over the Bucks on Thursday night. Teague dropped in 22 points on just 10 field goal attempts, but perhaps the game wouldn’t have been nearly as close if Teague didn’t turn the ball over a season high seven times, as a team the Hawks turned the ball over 17 times and will need to cut down on the turnovers if they want to continue their winning ways.
Paul Millsap played over 30 minutes for the third straight game, which is a great sign for the Hawks considering that Millsap missed five games due to a bruised knee. Millsap didn’t have a hangover after his homecoming in Utah and had a big night again against the Bucks dropping in 17 points and shooting 50% from the field.
Kyle Korver shot 3-5 from beyond the three-point line and ever so slightly improved on his league leading three-point percentage, but Korver wasn’t the only one who did damage from behind the arc against the Bucks, as a team the Hawks shot 13-29 from three-point land and will look to continue their hot shooting against the Nuggets who are defending the three-point line to a tune of 34% on the season.
Much like the Hawks, the Nuggets have seen their fair share of injury woes this season. Danilo Gallnari, Nate Robinson, and JaVale McGee are all out for the season, while point guard Ty Lawson has also missed a hand full of games. The Nuggets are really led by Lawson. Lawson is a averaging a career high 18.6 points per game and a career high of 9 assists per game as well. His nine assists per game is good enough for third best in the entire league. Lawson has already attempted 330 free throws this year, his previous career high for attempts from the free throw line up until this point was 311 last year. Although the Nuggets don’t have nearly as many options around Lawson as they have had in past years, he still seems to be the one that can make this team really get going.
The “experts” in Las Vegas have listed the Hawks as 5.5 point favorites at home. The spread may be a generous one, given the Hawks inability to sustain a big lead and put bad teams away, but it is encouraging none the less.
Be sure to follow us on twitter (@ATLBeatBlog) and stop by tonight after the game for a full recap.