Friday, January 27, 2023

NBA Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Golden State Warriors

The Atlanta Hawks continue a torturous 12-day, seven-game run through some of the NBA’s elite when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday night in San Francisco.

Despite getting 31 points from Trae Young and holding a lead into the final minute, the Hawks suffered a third defeat in four days when they were beaten 121-117 at Phoenix on Saturday night.

With John Collins dealing with a strained left foot and Bogdan Bogdanovic a sore right ankle, Atlanta began its rugged stretch with a 117-108 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday before returning home and getting dumped 116-98 by the Utah Jazz the next night.

After seeing the Warriors, owners of the best record in the NBA at 8-1, the Hawks will complete a four-game trip at Utah and Denver, then head home to cap the sequence on Nov. 14 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

After his Hawks shot just three free throws in the fourth quarter at Phoenix, Hawks coach Nate McMillan warned his players to stop believing they’re playing eight-on-five.

“You’ve got to leave the officials alone,” he noted after the loss. “We’ve proven that our conversations with (officials) hasn’t changed anything. It doesn’t change any calls. And we continue to allow that to be a distraction.

“We’ve got to grow up.”

The Hawks rank in the bottom third of the NBA with 188 free throw attempts so far. That’s nine more than their opponents have shot.

Atlanta might have found a good match in the Warriors, who despite their shiny record rank among the league’s worst in foul-shot disparity, having taken 156 and allowed 177.

Just about everything else has gone right for the Warriors, including a recent schedule that’s been polar-opposite to that of the Hawks. Golden State’s current four-game winning streak has come against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets.

The Warriors will be playing the second night of a back-to-back against a Hawks team that had Sunday off. But Golden State didn’t have to do much more than go through the paces in a 120-107 home win Sunday of the one-win Rockets.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr took time Sunday night to acknowledge the cushy schedule, which has the Warriors at home for eight straight games over 16 days.

“We’ve been home, obviously, so it’s not as difficult a back-to-back as some of the others that we’re going to face later on where we’re traveling and getting into cities really late or whatever,” he noted. “I think everybody’s in a pretty good place right now.”

Kerr was so confident his club could handle the Rockets, he gave Andre Iguodala the night off. The veteran is expected to face the Hawks.

Jordan Poole has been the Warriors’ big scorer during their recent run. He has outscored reigning NBA scoring champion Stephen Curry in three straight games, including against the Rockets, when he had a game-high 25 and Curry 20.

Atlanta has won three in a row over Golden State following a stretch in which the Warriors took 14 of 15.

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