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The Atlanta Hawks’ 5 cant-miss games at Philips Arena in 2016-17

These should be fun.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA released its schedule late on Thursday afternoon, and we got our first look at what the Atlanta Hawks’ slate looks like for the 2016-17 season.

While we’d all like to catch every single game at Philips Arena this season, that’s just not a reality for most of us. Whether it’s because of work, family obligations, or other things that may just pop up at any given time.

So with that said, here are the five cant-miss games taking place at Philips Arena during the 2016-17 season, in the order in which they take place.

January 1 - vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Atlanta Hawks have had a hard time coming across wins against the Spurs since Tim Duncan entered the NBA. In case you haven’t heard, his career has now come and gone, and hopefully now the Hawks can resume normal activity against one of the best that the West has to offer. It’s also fun to see Mike Budenholzer go up against his mentor Gregg Popovich as well, and you should never miss when the Spurs come to town if you’re a basketball fan.

January 13 - vs. Boston Celtics

I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? Al Horford makes his return to Atlanta with his new team, one of the Hawks’ greatest rivals over the years. Many people felt angry with Horford over his departure, especially after his father’s comments towards the fanbase. Either way, Philips Arena should be packed for the return of Horford, who gave the Hawks so many great years, and has now become one of the franchise’s greatest enemies on the floor. Please—applaud that man.

January 23 - vs. Los Angeles Clippers

This game should be interesting for many reasons. The Dennis Schröder, Paul Millsap, and Dwight Howard trio will be going up against the Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan trio. The Clippers have been contenders for the past four seasons in the Western Conference now, so to see how the Hawks stack up wouldn’t be an awful test. This one also comes towards the end of January, when both teams should be pretty warmed up at this point in the season. If the Hawks can put up a good showing this particular night, that’s a good sign.

March 6 - vs. Golden State Warriors

Another no-brainer here. The Warriors were giving it to the Hawks last season at Philips, until the Hawks came charging back, only to lose to the eventual 73-win Western Conference champions. It might not be a game that anybody expects to win, but with such a strong roster that boasts four All-Stars, it’ll be fun to see how the Hawks respond on their home floor.

April 9 - vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Hawks play the Cavaliers in Atlanta earlier in the season on March 3, but I have this particular game marked because it’s the last time the two teams play in the regular season before the playoffs. The Hawks might not face the Cavaliers at all in the postseason, but either way it’s a good measure to see where the Hawks stand going into the playoffs against the favorites in the East. That’s obviously assuming the Hawks actually make the playoffs.

Honorable mentions

December 5 - vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Everybody is expecting Russell Westbrook to be a madman this season, and rightfully so. To see how Dennis Schröder handles a matchup like that will be interesting to see. But with Kevin Durant gone, he should also expect more help than he might have gotten in a matchup last season.

March 5 - vs. Indiana Pacers

It’s the return of Jeff Teague. A welcome back for Jeff is more than appropriate, and the Pacers quietly put together a pretty nice roster during the offseason. Hawks-Pacers match-ups are always fun, and this shouldn’t be different.

December 21 - vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

These two teams played a thriller last season when the Hawks fell down 34 points, and almost pulled out the victory. Aside from that, you’ll want to see the young Timberwolves in action before that ticket becomes too hot in about 2-3 years. Trust me on this one.