Thursday, February 22, 2024
Sports Gaming Monitor

NBA Preview: Phoenix Suns (28-20) at Atlanta Hawks (20-27)

The Atlanta Hawks find themselves as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into Friday’s game against the visiting Phoenix Suns.

It is the first meeting between the clubs this season. The Hawks won both games during the 2022-23 campaign and have claimed the last nine straight decisions against the Suns in Atlanta.

Atlanta got De’Andre Hunter back on Tuesday, the first time he’d played since Dec. 20 because of knee inflammation. His presence was felt, particularly on defense, even though he played only 16 minutes. His availability likely will give the team a boost in the run-up to the All-Star Game.

It is uncertain whether Hunter will return to the starting lineup or continue to come off the bench. Atlanta has been getting solid play at forward from Saddiq Bey and Jalen Johnson, who is emerging as a key contributor.

The Hawks won their second straight game on Tuesday with a 138-122 decision versus the Los Angeles Lakers.

Guard Trae Young said, “Any team can do it one or two nights in a row. We’ve just got to be consistent with it. Hopefully, we can string together some wins that propel us forward to where we want to go and need to be.”

Atlanta’s defensive effort will be tested by the Suns, who recorded their ninth win in 11 outings with a 136-120 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. The Suns are loaded with offensive weapons like Devin Booker (28.3 points per game) and Kevin Durant (28.4), who collected 33 points and eight assists against the Nets.

Veteran Bradley Beal (17.3) has averaged 22.0 points in 33 career games (32 starts) against the Hawks.

The Suns showed their firepower in the third quarter against Brooklyn, scoring 42 points on 76.2 percent shooting (16-for-21) to put the game away.

The Suns played without guard Grayson Allen on Wednesday. He left Sunday’s game at Miami with an ankle sprain after playing 13 minutes.

Atlanta is playing the third contest in its six-game homestand, which continues with a back-to-back against Golden State on Saturday.

Phoenix will complete its seven-game road trip on Sunday in Washington.

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