Greetings! After a flurry of four-game weeks, the Hawks are blessed with three full days off (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) heading into a two-game slate, and the rest couldn’t come at a better time. Let’s take a glance at what’s to come.
Hawks @ Sixers — Wednesday, April 10th — 7:00 PM ET
A rematch of a bad loss last week. Philly enters the game with a bottom-5 offense (26th in the league in off. efficiency) coupled with a league-average defense (15th), and with the Hawks coming off of three days rest, this is a very winnable spot. Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague is the match-up to watch in this one, as the two young point guards key their teams’ offenses and Holiday is far and away the best player on the Sixers roster. Josh Smith and Al Horford have significant advantages up front against Philly, but with both guys having missed Saturday’s game with San Antonio, we’ll keep an eye on their performance as a gauge toward the future. Frankly, this is a game that Atlanta desperately needs, as they would desperately like to avoid the 6-seed and a first round match-up with Indiana.
Hawks vs. Bucks — Friday, April 12th — 7:30 PM ET
Milwaukee is the 8-seed and basically playing for nothing at this point (barring a Boston collapse). This is a positive for Atlanta, who needs to win much more, and as a result, will likely deploy their big guns for more minutes than the Bucks will here. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are capable of shooting Milwaukee out of (or in to) any game, so they are usually the key, but my match-up to watch is Larry Sanders and Al Horford. This is a “take care of business” spot for Atlanta, and anything short of a win would be a disappointment with seeding on the line.
With the Hawks just one game out of the 5-seed right now, a sweep is inherently necessary. A match-up with Brooklyn is much more attractive than one with Indiana in my opinion, and in order to achieve that, the Hawks may need to finish the season winning their last four games. It’s crunch time, and it’s going to be fun to watch.