The Atlanta Hawks go for back-to-back wins Monday afternoon against the New York Knicks. Can they take care of business against the free-falling Knicks?
The Atlanta Hawks sure know how to avoid a losing streak. Sunday afternoon they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks to a bounce back game for Kent Bazemore and Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s insane performance from three-point range.
It will be a quick turnaround for Atlanta. The Hawks travel to New York on Monday afternoon to battle the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have hit a bit of a rough patch. They’ve lost 10 of their 12 games, but the wins and losses are the least of their worries.
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Turmoil throughout the organization has been the theme of the last few weeks. Before a recent game against the New Orleans Pelicans, starting point guard Derrick Rose literally went missing. It turns out that Rose had gone home to Chicago to deal with a family issue.
Family comes first, I completely understand that, but he could have texted someone with the organization to let them know the situation. Phil Jackson has strangely not commented on the entire ordeal.
Now, trade rumors involving Carmelo Anthony are dominating the news cycle. What will happen next is anyone’s guess. The only thing I’m fairly certain won’t happen is a long winning streak.
On the court things aren’t much better. This recent swoon has sent them tumbling down the standings. They now have an 18-23 record and are 11th in the Eastern Conference.
They don’t exactly look like a “super-team”. They have the 17th best offensive rating in the NBA and the 25th ranked defensive rating.
I’m not a basketball expert, but when you can’t get stops and also can’t score you probably won’t win very many basketball games. There’s some analysis for you.
These teams have already played twice this season. The Knicks won during their Nov. 20th match-up. Carmelo Anthony led the way, scoring 31 points. They met again on Dec. 28, with the Hawks securing 102-98 overtime victory.
Carmelo Anthony was ejected from that game after striking Thabo Sefolosha in the face. The Knicks could have used Anthony’s scoring down the stretch, his ejection proved to be enormous. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks in scoring, finishing the game with 27 points and five assists.
Dwight Howard recorded a double-double, finishing with 16 points and 22 rebounds. Overall it was an ugly game for both teams. They each shot below 40 percent from the field and below 30 percent from three-point range. Should we expect another defensive slog?
There’s already bad news for the Knicks entering into this game. Their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, is battling an Achilles injury. He’s not expected to play against Atlanta. Porzingis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.4 per game on 44.9 percent shooting and 40.2 percent from three-point range. Losing him for a significant amount of time is obviously a crushing blow to their playoff hopes.
Lance Thomas will also miss the game. He’s dealing with concussion like symptoms and an orbital fracture. That does not sound fun. I suppose elbows to the face are one of the job hazards NBA players have to deal with.
Atlanta’s injury report features one new name. Tiago Splitter is obviously still out, but Mike Muscala will also miss the game. He did not travel with the Hawks to New York after injuring his ankle during Atlanta’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Hawks need to take advantage of New York’s recent struggles. By taking Paul Millsap off the market the organization has shown that they are committed to winning this season. They’ve won eight of their last nine games and have seen their record grow to 23-17. They’re the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, less than a month after they’d fallen out of the playoff picture completely.
This game against a struggling Knicks team is a golden opportunity to start another long winning streak. The Hawks have shown lately that they know how to take care of business against weaker teams. Their recent 4-0 road trip proved that.
An NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint. The teams that have the most success continue to prove themselves all season.