The Atlanta Hawks laid an egg of epic proportions on Friday evening but, less than 48 hours later, the team will have the opportunity to right that wrong during a Sunday matinee. The New York Knicks are in town for the fourth and final match-up between the two teams this season and Atlanta currently leads the season series by a 2-1 margin.
The Knicks have been embroiled in turmoil in recent days, ranging from Derrick Rose’s strange no-show to the ongoing trade market saga of Carmelo Anthony. On the floor, New York has won two of the past three games and, somewhat hilariously, the visitors begin Sunday only two games out of the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
In terms of match-up, the Hawks will be short-handed in dealing with Anthony and that could be an issue. Thabo Sefolosha was ruled out for the game on Saturday due to a groin issue and, given that he would be the primary defender against the big, physical forward, Atlanta’s defenders will be tested. It remains to be seen how Mike Budenholzer will deploy the starting lineup, but players ranging from Kent Bazemore to Paul Millsap and even Taurean Prince could be called upon to defend Anthony.
With all of that said, the Hawks are the better basketball team. Atlanta enters this game as a 6.5-point favorite according to the wise folks in the desert and, even if New York has the two most famous players in Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the Hawks own the deeper roster. It will be interesting to see how the home team deals with the sheer size of New York’s frontline but the backcourt advantage sits with Atlanta given the way Dennis Schröder has played recently. In addition, Knicks point guard Derrick Rose is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury, further strengthening the edge on the perimeter.
FiveThirtyEight provides the Hawks with a 69 percent chance at victory in the game, while NumberFire is even more confident at 74.7 percent. With those numbers combined with the urgency provided by Friday’s dud, this is a spot in which Atlanta should hold serve and anything less would be an ugly result. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, January 29, 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM