Thankfully for the slumping Atlanta Hawks, and their suffering fans, the team’s nightmarish five-game West Coast road trip wraps up tonight in Utah.
The Hawks are 0-4 on the road trip with losses at Phoenix, Portland, Golden State and Los Angeles (Clippers) — all of which are currently projected to make the playoffs in the daunting Western Conference.
However, the little skid is just a microcosm of the Hawks’ struggles of late as they have lost six straight games since beating the Knicks in Atlanta on Feb. 22, haven’t won in 10 consecutive road matches since Jan. 31 at Philadelphia, and have dropped the last 14 of their last 15 overall.
Hopefully this is the game that ends the futile streak for the Hawks as there added motivation tonight against the equally-underachieving Utah Jazz.
Eighth-year veteran power forward Paul Millsap will be making his first return back to Utah, where he spent his first seven years, since leaving this past summer as a free agent and signing with Atlanta.
Millsap was never named an All-Star in his seven years with the Jazz, but was named an All-Star this year in his first season with the Hawks. He is averaging 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds 3.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals in 33,0 minutes per game. The points, assists and steals averages are all career-highs.
Millsap is the only player in the NBA this season averaging at least 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals.
Current Hawks players DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver also spent time in Utah. Carroll was s a member of the Jazz for two seasons from 2011-2013, along with Millsap, while Korver was there from 2007-10, also with Millsap, who was just in his second year back then, and current Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams.
In other Hawks-related news, Jeff Teague will start tonight at point guard against the Jazz despite missing shoootaround today with an ear issue.
The is the second-and-final meeting of the season between these teams. The Hawks won the first game in a 118-85 blowout victory in Atlanta on December 20.