Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it brings, the NBA elected to release only the ‘First Half’ of the 72-game regular season schedule for 2020-21 on Friday. Still, there is plenty to sift through for the Atlanta Hawks, and that includes a number of highly intriguing matchups that are already on the docket.
Though the full schedule is certainly worth perusing, here are eight games to circle with a bit of extra emphasis.
- Wednesday, Dec. 23 — 8:00 pm ET — at Chicago Bulls — This speaks for itself as the regular season opener. This time around, it is also the game that “counts” for the Hawks in more than eight months, bringing even more emphasis to the table. Oh, and it is also a potential “revenge” game for Kris Dunn against his old team.
- Wednesday, Dec. 30 — 7:30 pm ET — at Brooklyn Nets — The Hawks will be aiming to contend for a playoff berth in 2021, and the Nets are one of the teams in their way. For good measure, Kevin Durant is back and the Nets will be must-see TV for NBA fans early in the season.
- Monday, Jan. 11 — 7:30 pm ET — vs. Philadelphia 76ers — Atlanta’s early-season home schedule isn’t jam-packed with excitement, but this is a good one. Philadelphia is also a team the Hawks will be aiming to chase down in the standings, and they are coming to State Farm Arena for this one.
- Monday, Jan. 18 — 2:30 pm ET — vs. Minnesota Timberwolves — MLK Day is always memorable in Atlanta. This year, it is the date that the Hawks are expected to begin allowing fans in State Farm Arena, and Atlanta is wearing new jerseys and deploying a new court. On top of that, local product Anthony Edwards will be on the floor for a Wolves team that also has Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
- Monday, Feb. 1 — 7:30 pm ET — vs. Los Angeles Lakers — The Lakers always draw intrigue and, in 2020-21, they are also the reigning NBA champions. This is the team’s one and only scheduled visit to Atlanta, with Trae Young and the Hawks looking to knock them off. Rajon Rondo will also be facing his most recent former team for the first time in a Hawks uniform.
- Wednesday, Feb. 3 — 7:30 pm ET — vs. Dallas Mavericks — Last season, everyone was looking forward to seeing Young and Luka Doncic square off on the floor, but Doncic didn’t appear in either game between these two teams. Maybe that changes this year and, even if it doesn’t, there seems to be some animosity between the two fan bases. These teams also have a rematch just one week later, with the Feb. 10 battle scheduled to be on ESPN.
- Saturday, Feb. 13 — 7:30 pm ET — vs. Indiana Pacers — Judging by the early projections, the Pacers are the team most frequently compared to the Hawks in the “race for the top seven in the East. This is a good measuring stick, at home, as a result.
- Wednesday, Mar. 3 — 7:00 pm ET — at Orlando Magic — At some point, we’ll learn the “Second Half” of the schedule but, in the first half, this is the final contest. At the very least, the Hawks will have a week off after this game, and it is always fun to enter the mid-season break on a high note. In facing Orlando, the Hawks are taking on a team that has been to the playoffs recently, and the Magic are a team the Hawks will need to unseat to reach their goals this season.
Stay tuned for full coverage of the upcoming season.