If it feels as if the Atlanta Hawks have been away from home for a very long time, it is because that is the reality. Mike Budenholzer and his team just wrapped up a six-game road trip with a 3-3 record, and while they are certainly not satisfied with that result, things could have been markedly worse given the injuries and grueling nature of a West Coast swing. On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks return to Philips Arena for a somewhat rare matinee tilt, and their opponent is, once again, of a high class as Atlanta hosts the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs visit Atlanta only once per season as a member of the Western Conference, and that places additional emphasis on this match-up. Budenholzer and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich take center stage by nature of their previous relationship, and that is always a fun story line to follow, especially given the respect between two of the premier coaches in the NBA.
Beyond that, this is also a strong collection of on-court talent. San Antonio is (still) led by names like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and for all intents and purposes, this could be the last visit to Atlanta for Duncan as an active player, given his age at 38. Al Horford is often compared to Duncan in terms of being the centerpiece of a "Spurs-like" foundation, and the winner of that individual match-up could have a leg up in this spot. As for Parker, the 32-year-old point guard is averaging 21.2 points per game in the month of March, and the Jeff Teague-Dennis Schröder duo will have their hands full.
Both teams are banged up at this juncture of the season. The Spurs will be without Manu Ginobili as the result of continued ankle trouble, and the Hawks will still have Thabo Sefolosha, contrary to previous belief, and Mike Scott on the sideline on Sunday. Perhaps the biggest announcement to monitor will be surrounding the availability of Kyle Korver, who is questionable with the broken nose, as the last handful of games have served as a reminder of his daily importance.
The Atlanta Hawks are always linked to the San Antonio Spurs and with good reason. That, in and of itself, makes this game very intriguing, but it would also be nice to see the Hawks knock down a perennial title contender to remove the sour taste of back-to-back losses. If nothing else, take a break from the madness of March, settle in, and watch some high level NBA hoops. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, March 22, 3:00 pm ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM