Just when you think things can't get any worse for the Atlanta Hawks here comes the red hot Los Angeles Clippers. The Hawks have been in free fall mode for more than a month and have now lost five straight including every game of their current six-game road trip. Go back a little further and they have lost 13 of their last 14 games and nine straight on the road.
The Clippers on the other hand are surging. Winners of six straight and coming off a 142-94 beatdown of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. L.A. is averaging over 117 points per game in their last six which doesn't bode well for a Hawks team that is struggling defensively.
Atlanta is currently 23rd in the league allowing 102.4 points per game. During their five-game losing streak that number balloons to 112.8. The Hawks have given up 115 points to Boston, 129 to Phoenix, 102 to Portland and 111 in Friday's loss to Golden State. You get the picture.
Injuries have played a huge part in the Hawks struggles but the losing is festering some harmful trends. Its normal when a team is struggling to see individual players try to take it upon themselves to dig the team out of the hole. That usually has a negative impact and that is clearly the case right now for Atlanta. Mike Budenholzer continues to search for answers with his rotations but at this point little is working.
The good news is they are starting to get healthy. Pero Antic played in his second straight game on Friday. Paul Millsap returned to the lineup after missing five games with a knee contusion.
Even worse, the Hawks appear to be stuck in the middle of the tankapalooza that is the Eastern Conference. Despite their struggles Atlanta still has a healthy three game lead over ninth place Detroit and a 3.5 game lead over the Cavaliers.
I could get down into the nuts and bolts of what the Clippers are doing well and what the Hawks did to score a 107-97 win over them back in December at Philips Arena. None of that matters now because these two teams are headed in two opposite directions. For the Hawks it's about themselves more than anything else. It's about stringing together four positive quarters and competing to the horn. Mike Budenholzer has preached his club's competitiveness for much of the season but that has gone missing of late.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, March 8, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM