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A deep dive into the 2017-2018 schedule for the Atlanta Hawks

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It is finally here! Now all we have to do is wait another two months...

NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday evening, the NBA released the long awaited team schedules. The Atlanta Hawks were, obviously, a part of that and we now know the 2017-18 Hawks schedule.

We’ve seen some of the notable dates (like the return of Paul Millsap and the MLK Day game returning to Atlanta) but how is the schedule looking as a whole?

Let’s break it down, month by month, starting with October:

Total games: 7

Home games: 2

Road games: 5

Back-to-backs: 2

Longest road trip: 5 games

Longest homestand: 2 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 2

Team below .500 in 16-17: 5

Things are a little different this year with the NBA season starting almost two weeks earlier in an effort to limit back-to-backs and whatnot.

It’s going to be a difficult start for the Hawks, who will begin the season on a five game road trip due to the club needing more time to complete the first round of arena renovations.

Dwight Howard will welcome the Hawks to his new home in Charlotte in the Hawks’ second outing of the season on October 20th, and I’m sure Dwight will have a point to prove. And, as Dwight showed when he made his return to Houston last season, he can really turn it on when he wants to.

After that, the Hawks’ first home game of the season will be an emotional one as it’s the return of Paul Millsap to Atlanta after the four-time All-Star (all with the Hawks) signed for the Nuggets in the summer. There’ll be a lot of good energy in the building that night and hopefully the Hawks can compete and give the sellout crowd something to cheer about.

I think it’s fair to say that most teams are going to give the Hawks trouble this season due to the new direction the team is seemingly headed, but those Nets and Bulls games present the Hawks with their best chance to get on the board.

Moving on to November:

Total games: 14

Home games: 8

Road games: 6

Back-to-backs: 3

Longest road trip: 3 games

Longest homestand: 4 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 9

Team below .500 in 16-17: 5

November is going to be a tough month for the Hawks. The Clippers, Houston, Washington, Toronto, San Antonio and two games against the Celtics and Cavaliers... That’s a lot of great teams and they come thick and fast.

Former Hawks Al Horford and Kyle Korver — assuming they aren’t carrying injuries — will visit Philips Arena twice in the month of November. Korver will always be welcomed back in Atlanta but Horford... may not be. The Hawks will also welcome back Tim Hardaway Jr. when the Knicks come to town on November 24th. Hardaway returned to the team that drafted him in 2013 after the Knicks extended a bumper offer sheet to Hardaway that the Hawks declined to match.

Three back-to-backs certainly won’t help the Hawks but there’s a little bit of respite near the end of the month in the form of a four game homestand and a nice four day break but it’s going to be a very tough month.

December:

Total games: 15

Home games: 8

Road games: 7

Back-to-backs: 4

Longest road trip: 2 games

Longest homestand: 2 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 7

Team below .500 in 16-17: 8

December is interesting because the Hawks are — straightaway — involved in two ‘home-and-home’s’ one after another, first with the Brooklyn Nets and then with the Orlando Magic. This might present the Hawks with a good opportunity to get some W’s in the books.

Four back-to-backs in the month of December aren’t very nice, and the Hawks will also face some tough opposition on the road in December with trips to Memphis, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Toronto. Overall, December has the opportunity to be a kinder month to the Hawks — certainly kinder than November will be.

January:

Total games: 15

Home games: 9

Road games: 6

Back-to-backs: 2

Longest road trip: 5 games

Longest homestand: 6 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 7

Team below .500 in 16-17: 8

The Hawks will kick off 2018 with a bang — a five-game Western Conference road trip that begins in Phoenix and ends in Denver while pit-stopping in L.A. along the way to take on both the Clippers and Lakers.

It could be a tough road trip but immediately following that is a six game homestand, the longest homestand of the season. Nestled in that six game homestand is a home game against the Spurs on MLK Day, which returns after a year absence after the Hawks controversially played in New York — and not in Atlanta — on MLK Day last year.

The Hawks will also welcome back former Hawk Thabo Sefolosha to Philips Arena when the Utah Jazz roll into town on January 22nd. Thabo spent three seasons with the Hawks and was one of the best defenders on the team throughout his tenure in Atlanta.

After their six game homestand, the Hawks will play one road game in Charlotte before another three game homestand which will include Dwight Howard’s return to Atlanta. That will certainly be an interesting night indeed...

Overall, a lot of home games in January for the Hawks and that’s always a good thing because that means more of Sir Foster! (Got to look forward to the little things this season).

February:

Total games: 11

Home games: 5

Road games: 6

Back-to-backs: 2

Longest road trip: Technically 3 games but with an All-Star break wedged in between...

Longest homestand: 2 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 6

Team below .500 in 16-17: 5

February is never a heavy month due to February being the shortest month of the year and the All-Star break.

There’s not a whole lot to say about February, really... outside of the looming trade deadline.

Games against the Bucks, Cavs and Celtics will be tough and two games against both the Pistons and the Pacers will be interesting also. The Lakers are in town near the end of the month, so you can expect a full house as there’s a large Laker contingent in Atlanta (and most other NBA cities, to be fair).

March:

Total games: 14

Home games: 6

Road games: 8

Back-to-backs: 1

Longest road trip: 6 games

Longest homestand: 3 games

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 9

Team below .500 in 16-17: 5

Ooof...

You could argue this is the worst month the Hawks could possibly face in the 2017-18 season.

Two meetings with the Golden State Warriors, a home game against OKC, a road game against the Raptors and a six game road trip against, including games against the Warriors, Rockets, Timberwolves, Jazz and Bucks...

Games against the Suns, Bulls and Sixers may prove to be fruitful — depending how those teams are fixed at this time of the season — but this is probably going to be a brutal month for the Hawks. This could be the time of the year the Hawks begin to really look toward the future/draft/draft lottery position.

And, finally, April:

Total games: 6

Home games: 3

Road games: 3

Back-to-backs: 1

Longest road trip: 2 games

Longest homestand: 1 game

Teams at/above .500 in 16-17: 2

Team below .500 in 16-17: 4

To cap off what I’m sure is going to be a very tough season, three road games against three probable playoff teams and a home-and-home against the Miami Heat — and it’s a back-to-back no less.

The Hawks will probably — if the season unfolds how many expect it to — be in full tank mode by this stage but will, I’m sure, put on a good show in their final home game against the Sixers, who the Hawks will close out their season against at Philips Arena.

Overall, you’d have to say November and March are going to be the toughest months. There’s a lot of back-to-backs early in the season but only four of them in the last three months of the season.

Let’s not beat around the bush, I don’t think anyone expects the Hawks to make the playoffs this season. In fact, many writers/pundits/experts alike expect them to be among the worst in the league and when you’re placed in that conversation (and they are in that conversation for a legitimate reason), every game and every month is going to be difficult.

Things could get pretty ugly for the Hawks this season but there’s a bigger picture in mind that goes beyond this season.