Joe Johnson and the Hawks look to turn away the Mavericks tonight at Phillips Arena (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Atlanta Hawks (36-20) Dallas Mavericks (37-21) Game Preview

Is this a big game?  The Dallas Mavericks roll into Philips Arena tonight to take on the Hawks in an ESPN made for TV special. The Mavericks come in winners of five games in a row. The Hawks defeated the Mavericks in Dallas early in the season but the Mavericks are a much different team now. Gone are Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, and bench players James Singleton and Quinton Ross. In their place now are former Washington Wizards Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson. That is three Wizards that have been in the starting lineup on many nights so that was a very good trade for the Mavericks.

Quite frankly the Mavericks are loaded on paper. They have a defensive player in Stevenson, and bring explosive offense off the bench in former sixth man of the year Jason Terry. Quite frankly the Hawks will have to be on top of their game tonight. It is going to take four quarters of playoff basketball to be successful tonight. The game is in Phillips Arena against a quality opponent so hopefully that will energize the team.

A lot of people out there have noted of late that after the Hawks 19-6 start they haven’t been real impressive of late. There are a few reasons for that. Some of which has to do with play on the floor but also some of it was that the schedule has gotten tougher. Tonight is one of those statement games though that can reinforce the thought that the Hawks are capable of beating anyone. I am going to be really interested in how the Hawks approach this game. If they continue to show some of the lapses that have plagued them coming out of the break then they will be in for a hard time tonight. Typically this season they have played well at home especially against the West.

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Sunday, Oct 2626 Oct7:30at Detroit PistonsBuy Tickets

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Dallas Mavericks

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