The Atlanta Hawks are no longer working on the longest winning streak in franchise history. Mike Budenholzer's club suffered their first defeat in more than a month on Monday night after a flat performance in New Orleans, but there is no time for panic, as the Hawks welcome the Southeast division rival Washington Wizards to Philips Arena on Wednesday evening.
The Wizards actually a wounded team as well, as Washington has lost three consecutive games including a defeat against Charlotte on Monday. Still, John Wall and company are very talented, as evidenced by a 31-18 record, and this game serves double importance in both the division and conference standings.
Simply put, the focus of the NBA world (and the Atlanta fan base) will be on how the Hawks respond to their first hint of adversity in some time. DeMarre Carroll's return on Monday brings optimism in a healthier roster, but the Hawks have now struggled for the equivalent of six consecutive quarters (including the final two against Philadelphia), and with that, some fans and pundits are making sweeping judgments.
Jeff Teague against John Wall serves as the most interesting individual match-up in my mind, but that takes a back seat to the overall prognosis of the Hawks here. It will be intriguing to see how Budenholzer can motivate his troops to come out of the gate flying around after a visible lack of energy and movement on Monday, and the crowd (which should be plentiful) should help to lift Atlanta's spirits a bit.
Panic over a single loss is one of the crazier things imaginable, and the Atlanta Hawks can silence any doubters with a bounce-back win on Wednesday. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, February 4, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM