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The Hawks face a very important test when the Bucks arrive in Atlanta

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In the recent past, the Atlanta Hawks have not fared well in the first home game after a lengthy road trip. During the 2018-19 season, the Hawks faced two such situations, with a loss on Nov. 19, 2018 to the LA Clippers and an 18-point defeat to the (Kawhi Leonard-less) Toronto Raptors on Feb. 7. While the 2017-18 season wasn’t terribly positive in any direction for Atlanta, Mike Budenholzer and company also dropped both opportunities after long road trips, with a Jan. 12, 2018 loss to the Brooklyn Nets (after a 1-4 trip) and a Mar. 30, 2018 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers (after a 1-5 trip).

On Wednesday, Lloyd Pierce’s team will have the chance to break the mold with a home win but the schedule does the Hawks no favors as the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. Atlanta’s performance during a five-game gauntlet against Western Conference opponents left something to be desired, particularly over the weekend in Los Angeles. In the big picture, though, the Hawks stealing a win in Denver salvaged a respectable overall showing and, candidly, Atlanta could’ve easily won another game in Portland.

After two full days to travel and rest, the Hawks should have a bit more optimism within the friendly confines of State Farm Arena but, in short, the Bucks are a tough task. Milwaukee took three of four games (including two lopsided blowouts) against Atlanta last season and, well, the game the Hawks won did not feature any of the Bucks’ core pieces. The Bucks also have the look of a title contender again this season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo playing at an MVP level and a strong (yet unspectacular) supporting cast around him.

Though the point spread for the game is not known at this time, the Bucks will almost certainly be a comfortable favorite, even in Atlanta. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the Hawks can’t pull the upset, but the game could also set the tone for an interesting stretch of the schedule.

The uber-difficult West Coast trip is over but the Hawks still face seven consecutive playoff-caliber opponents beginning on Wednesday. The difficulty varies, from a road tilt in Houston to a home game against Minnesota, but Atlanta must emerge from this stretch in respectable position to keep any notion of a playoff run alive.

Admittedly, the task is challenging without Kevin Huerter and John Collins, and that has been evident on the floor in the last few games. Still, the Hawks need to steal a game or two at home and, quite honestly, there is intrigue as to how Atlanta’s young roster will respond to what was a disastrous back-to-back in Los Angeles.

The Hawks tip off at 7:30 pm ET at State Farm Arena, and the game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southeast. If you’d like to buy tickets to the game against the Bucks, you can do so from StubHub here.

Stay tuned.


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