The Atlanta Hawks did it again on Friday night, outlasting the Portland Trail Blazers for the team's 18th straight victory. On Saturday, the Hawks will battling letdown possibilities and high expectations, as Mike Budenholzer and company welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to Philips Arena.
As they enter Saturday night, the Sixers are actually playing some of their best basketball of the season. Philadelphia has won back-to-back games, including a home win over Minnesota on Friday night, and regardless of their talent deficiencies, this is a team that is well-coached and willing to put out maximum effort on a nightly basis.
With that on the table, this is a game that the Hawks should win. Atlanta prevailed by a 18-point margin back on January 13 in Philadelphia, and they did so without Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap. Saturday's night may be nearly as sparse from a roster standpoint, as both Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha are dealing with injury issues, and Mike Budenholzer has shown a willingness to rest some of his starters in back-to-back situations against inferior opponents.
The Hawks notoriously play these things close to the vest, so we likely won't know much about the roster until closer to tip-off. Still, Atlanta should be considered a heavy favorite barring a mass "rest day" for the starting five, and with both teams on a back-to-back, aesthetically pleasing basketball could be at a premium.
Every night at Philips Arena feels like an event right now, and when that can be said about a Sixers game in late January, you know the Atlanta Hawks are rolling. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, January 31, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM