The Atlanta Hawks go for their third straight win Saturday night when they host the Denver Nuggets at Philips Arena. Atlanta came from behind to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 102-97 on Thursday while Denver has also won two straight including a 111-107 win in Miami on Friday.
The Hawks' defensive struggles have been well chronicled during their second half slide. They were front and center again on Thursday as they allowed the offensively challenged Bucks to score 53 points in the first half while shooting a high percentage. Atlanta dug in during the third quarter and got back in the game but surrendered 30 more points in the fourth quarter. The Hawks scored 15 of the final 23 points in the game to secure the victory. Injuries played a huge part in that defensive slide but the roster is now healthy again and the results haven't changed much.
That defensive effort will have to pick up against a Nuggets team that has scored at least 111 points in its last four wins. Denver defeated Orlando 120-112 on Wednesday and then stole a game from the Heat in Miami on Friday. Kenneth Faried recorded a double-double against the Heat with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The matchup at point guard between Denver's Ty Lawson and Atlanta's Jeff Teague will go along way in determining the outcome. Lawson finished with 13 points and nine assists in Friday's win over the Heat but has been a particular thorn in the side of the Hawks in recent matchups.
Lawson led a late rally in Denver's 109-107 win back in November. He finished with 23 points. The Nuggets have lost four of their last five trips to Philips Arena but Lawson scored 32 points on 12-16 shooting during his last trip to Atlanta. Teague was a catalyst in Thursday's win for Atlanta finishing with 22 points and eight assists.
Coming into Saturday Atlanta has a 3.5 game lead over the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Knicks host Milwaukee Saturday afternoon.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, March 15, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM