The Atlanta Hawks are "playing out the string".
With home-court advantage wrapped up throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs and the Golden State Warriors running away with the best record in the NBA, there is, quite literally, nothing for the Hawks to play for in terms of the standings. However, a date with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night provides incentive in a different way, as Atlanta aims to keep Brooklyn out of the playoffs in hopes of swapping for a potential 2015 lottery pick.
The Nets are playing much better basketball in recent days, as evidenced by their recent move into the top eight of the East, but with two games remaining against the Hawks, Atlanta has the opportunity to quell that positive momentum. Mike Budenholzer has been reticent to give his starters extended rest, with exhibit A coming in deploying them for both halves of a back-to-back earlier in the week, and with Brooklyn invading Philips Arena, he is expected to play everyone once again.
On the injury front, Dennis Schröder has been ruled out for Saturday's contest (though he was seen shooting at practice on Friday), but Mike Scott could make his return against Brooklyn. The sharp-shooting forward has missed the past 11 games with a toe injury, but the Hawks were blessed with a positive injury outlook and Scott returned to full practice on Friday afternoon.
It would certainly be nice to see the Atlanta Hawks playing high-level basketball as the playoffs approach, but on Saturday night, the biggest concern is keeping the Brooklyn Nets out of the win column. It will be undoubtedly interesting to see how Budenholzer and the team approach the duo of games against Brooklyn, but with a period of rest both before and after Saturday's contest, look for the full onslaught here in front of a packed house at Philips. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, April 4, 7:30 pm ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM