Playoff-bound teams in the NBA usually make great strides toward that goal by performing well at home. This season, the Atlanta Hawks sport an unsightly 7-7 record at Philips Arena, but Wednesday’s contest against the New York Knicks provides an opportunity to improve on that mark.
The visiting Knicks unexpectedly throttled the Hawks in a previous meeting (on a Sunday afternoon at MSG), but New York enters with a negative net rating that indicates a bit of overachievement in 16-14 record. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are enough to provide difficulty when it comes to match-ups, but Atlanta holds advantages at several other spots with something of a toss-up at the point guard position between present-day Derrick Rose and Dennis Schröder.
New York’s defense, which ranks in the bottom five of the NBA, provides a bit of optimism for a Hawks team that has regular trouble in scoring. However, it has been Atlanta’s defense that has struggled mightily over a wide swath of games at this point, and getting “right” against the Knicks would go a long way toward assuaging any doubts moving forward.
The good people in Las Vegas (and off-shore) install the Hawks as 3.5-point favorites in this contest, which sheds some light on the fact that this is a game Atlanta needs to secure. Dwight Howard is back, Paul Millsap is good to and the Hawks might even have Tim Hardaway Jr. (who is questionable with a groin injury) back in this game. The rest of the three-game homestand includes contests against Detroit and San Antonio, and while New York’s record is superior to that of Detroit’s, this is arguably the most favorable spot of the trio.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest from Philips Arena and let’s do this together.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, December 28, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM