Things are going pretty well for the Atlanta Hawks at the moment, as the team has won five consecutive games, including a lopsided victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday evening. Mike Budenholzer and his team will take aim at continuing that hot streak on Sunday, in a rare afternoon game against the Denver Nuggets.
Unfortunately, the game will not be televised locally, but that does not take away from the intrigue of what will take place on the floor. The Nuggets enter Sunday's tilt having lost two straight games, but prior to that, Denver was red-hot (they have still won 7 of 10, for reference) and this is a team fully capable of upending the Hawks, even in the friendly confines of Philips Arena.
This recent surge by Atlanta has come with an uptick on the defensive end, and that is quite encouraging. During the five-game streak, the Hawks have a net rating of +16.4 points per 100 possessions, and while that is wildly unsustainable in its excellence, the defense has performed at a league-best level of 93.1 points allowed per 100. This year's edition of the team is probably not built as an elite-level defense, but simply performing at a league-average level (or slightly better) in the long-term would be fantastic given the offensive capabilities of this group.
As far as match-ups are concerned against Denver, the two "highlight" pairings will be at the point guard and power forward positions. Ty Lawson is the best player on the Nuggets roster, but he will have to deal with both Jeff Teague and a scorching-hot Dennis Schröder here, leaving a large hill to climb for the former North Carolina star. Up front, the Nuggets have a wide variety of options, but Kenneth Faried and Paul Millsap will square off, and that should be a fun battle between two undersized but highly skilled and sometimes electric forwards.
If the Hawks can perform at their recent level defensively, they could make quick work of the Nuggets at home, but nothing is a given against a capable opponent. Stay tuned throughout the day for wall-to-wall coverage.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, December 7, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
TV: No Local TV
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM