Who would had ever believed before the season kicked off, that Phillips Arena in Downtown Atlanta would evolve to be one of the toughest places in the league to win a road game? Not even diehard Hawks fans believed this season would be turn into the year Atlanta would be thought of as serious contenders.
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Remember, the Hawks barely sneaked into the playoffs last year with a paltry 38-44 record, but took the Indiana Pacers to the brink of elimination. That, and the strong return of Al Horford, has seemed to rejuvenate this once mediocre franchise.
The Hawks are no longer a team fighting for a playoff berth; instead, they are leading the pack in the East. Atlanta is 49-13, 10 games in front of the Chicago Bulls for the status of being the top dog in the paltry Eastern Conference. So unless LeBron and Company has an epic finish to the season, Atlanta is basically secured as the No. 1 seed in the East.
Make no mistake, the Hawks are no flukes. They are in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, has a dynamic star in Jeff Teague, a dynamite tandem up front in Horford and Paul Millsap, a sharp shooter in Kyle Korvor, and a bench that is led by Sixth Man of the Year candidate Dennis Schroder. Atlanta even wins Twitter:
This is the team the Sacramento Kings will be trying to knock off tonight in one of the NBA’s toughest venues.
Good luck with that.
The Kings failed to get a win in two of the NBA’ softest arenas, so what would give us hope that the Kings can somehow morph into a team that can knock off a Hawks team that has won 29 of their 33 games at home? That’s not to say that it can’t happen, but it’s a loooooooooong shot at best.
Sacramento is going to have to bring their A-plus game to Hotlanta tonight, and that means grabbing a lead and keeping it. If they can exploit the one weak spot in the Hawks stealth armor – rebounding – the Kings may have a chance to pull off a stunning victory.
But judging by the way the Kings have played their last three road games, don’t hold your breath on it.