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Preview: Hawks face quick turnaround in Phoenix

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A battle of lottery-bound squads.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks will take the floor on Saturday evening and, for the second consecutive night, Lloyd Pierce’s squad will face an opponent it has not yet encountered during the 2018-19 season. The results weren’t ideal in a lopsided loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday but, this time around, Atlanta’s opponent might be forgiving in the form of the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix enters Saturday’s tilt with an unsightly 11-42 record and the Suns have lost nine games in a row. It should be noted that the Suns do have two significant advantages in this spot, however, with Phoenix enjoying an off day on Friday (while the Hawks were quite busy in Salt Lake City) and, of course, the appeal of home-court advantage.

As a result, Phoenix is actually seen as a slight favorite (approximately two points) in Las Vegas, which may seem odd considering the recent trajectory of the two teams. Make no mistake, Atlanta is playing better basketball than Phoenix in the grand scheme but the schedule set-up isn’t ideal for the Hawks in this spot, even with a relatively healthy roster.

Speaking of injuries, the Suns have operated without No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton for the past six games but he is listed as probable and seemingly on track to return against the Hawks. That sets the stage for an interesting battle between two top-five picks — even if Ayton and Trae Young occupy different positions on the floor — and Phoenix also boasts an intriguing young talent in shooting guard Devin Booker.

To put it frankly, this is a very winnable road game for the Hawks on the road and, if the visiting team plays well, there should be no worry about the end result. With that said, the playing field is leveled by external factors and that should make for an interesting Saturday night battle in Phoenix.

Stay tuned.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, Feb. 2, 9:00 pm ET

Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)