Although the full NBA schedule will not be released until August, Atlanta Hawks fans got a glimpse on Wednesday of at least one of the games that their team will be participating in for the 2023-24 slate.
The team announced that they will be playing against the Orlando Magic on November 9th in Mexico City.
The Atlanta Hawks join the list of NBA teams playing internationally
The NBA, always looking to expand its brand to global markets, has been sending teams off to other countries to play games for a while now in an attempt to draw new fans.
The fact that this contest will come so early in the season, and against a divisional rival in the Orlando Magic, will surely be a jolt to the senses for Hawks fans used to watching their team play basketball in the United States (and Canada)-based NBA arenas.
From a basketball perspective, although the game will occur pretty early on in an NBA regular season schedule that runs from October-April, the contest still figures to be a measuring stick for both the Hawks as well as the Magic, who are hoping to take the leap into playoff contention this year with a young but talented roster.
Led by 2023 rookie of the year Paolo Banchero and adding Arkansas guard Anthony Black to the mix, Orlando was actually a pretty solid NBA team for the majority of the 2022-23 season but were unable to overcome an abysmal start out of the gates.
Atlanta, meanwhile, figures to be one of the biggest wild cards in the NBA coming into next season. Fresh off of two straight first-round exits to the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, respectively, Atlanta is in danger of falling into the same endless cycle of mediocrity that plagued the franchise throughout most of the 2010s, when Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and others could never get over the hump.
While Trae Young is a sizable bit more talented than those players and has already made a deeper playoff run than any of those Hawks teams (or any Hawks team ever, for that matter), two straight early playoff exits have not gone down easy for a fanbase that is growing more agitated by the day.
Although the team unloaded its biggest issue in John Collins earlier this summer, the front office has yet to make any other big trades or free agency signings, and with the current iteration of this roster, expecting anything past a second-round appearance at best would seem to be overstepping.
In any case, it will be important that Atlanta gets off to a strong start in 2023-24, as they have quickly fallen behind the eight-ball in the last two seasons and had to claw their way just to make the Play-In game, which is essentially the biggest indicator of mediocrity that currently exists in the league.
Young, for his part, seems excited about the international early-season test.
Although Orlando, as previously mentioned, does have talent, these are the kind of games that Atlanta will have to win throughout 2023-24 to net themselves a top six-seed and avoid playing a juggernaut in round one. Atlanta consistently found themselves playing down to their competition and losing to teams that were objectively less talented than them over the last two seasons, and they paid the price because of it.
While we certainly hope the team enjoys themselves in the vibrant location that is Mexico City, we also hope they return to the States with a win.