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Preview: Hawks, Knicks meet amid hot streaks

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Two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference meet Wednesday evening.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks (32-26) and New York Knicks (32-27) will meet Wednesday evening in what is surprisingly a game that could have home-court implications in the first round of a potential playoff series between these two teams. Obviously, there is still a little ways to go in the regular season, but if it ended today, the Hawks and Knicks would meet in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.

Atlanta has won 9 of their last 11, while New York has won seven straight and eight of their last ten. Both the Hawks (+2.2) and the Knicks (+2.0) rank in the top ten in the NBA in net rating, but they do play contrasting styles. The Knicks are strong on the defensive end (3rd in defensive rating) while the Hawks are obviously more prominent offensively (8th in offensive rating). The Knicks play the slowest pace in the league, while the Hawks have been quite methodical themselves this season, ranking 20th in pace.

Both Atlanta and New York will be on the second-half of a back-to-back, as the Hawks beat what’s left of the Orlando Magic while the Knicks beat the Charlotte Hornets. The Knicks will still have some sort of a rest advantage, as they played at home last night so they did not have to travel between games.

This will be the last meeting of the season between New York and Atlanta, and New York has already locked up the season series by winning the first two meetings. The Knicks beat the Hawks in Atlanta by a score of 113-108 on Jan. 4, and again Feb. 15 by a score of 123-112. Julius Randle has been a force to be reckoned with all season, and the Hawks have yet to stop him this season.

In the first meeting between the Hawks and the Knicks on Jan. 4, Randle had 28 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists leading New York to the win. In the second matchup on Feb. 15, Randle had 44 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Needless to stay, neutralizing Randle will be a big part of Atlanta’s effort to beat the Knicks for the first time this season.

Injuries

The Hawks will be without Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery), Danilo Gallinari (right foot soreness), De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness), Tony Snell (right ankle sprain) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) on Wednesday.

The Knicks are listing only Mitchell Robinson (foot) and Alec Burks (protocols) as out for Wednesday’s tilt.

The Line

After opening as a small underdog, Atlanta sits as a 1.5-point favorite early Wednesday afternoon with both teams coming off the back-to-back.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Apr. 21, 8:00 pm ET

Location: Madison Square Garden

TV: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (out of market)

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

Streaming: Fox Sports Go