ATLANTA HAWKS (37-29)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (51-14)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Hawks will be looking to make a statement with a road win over the Spurs on Monday.
The Hawks come into this game on a three-game winning streak, and they most recently beat the Grizzlies 107-90 as 6.5-point road underdogs on Saturday. That was a big win for Atlanta, who could have easily laid an egg after a solid home victory over Toronto on Friday. Things will not be easy for the Hawks on Monday, though. They’re going to be facing the Spurs in this one, and San Antonio is a team that is desperate for all of the wins it can get the remainder of the season. The Spurs are only a half of a game behind the Warriors after beating Golden State on Saturday night. San Antonio knows that it will need home court advantage in order to defeat Golden State in the playoffs, so the Spurs will be pulling out all the stops moving forward. When the Hawks hosted the Spurs on New Years Day, Atlanta won 114-112 as a five-point favorite. The Spurs had won their previous 11 games against the Hawks, so it was big for Atlanta to finally get into the win column. One thing that does work in Atlanta’s favor in this game is the fact that the team is 10-7 SU and 11-6 ATS when playing as a road underdog this season. The Spurs, meanwhile, are 24-6 SU when playing at home this season, so they’ll be confident in their chances to win this one. They are, however, just 15-15 ATS in those games, and they’ll also be without PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Heart) indefinitely. There is also no guarantee that San Antonio will have SF Kawhi Leonard (Head), who has been dealing with the symptoms of a concussion over the past few days.
If the Hawks are going to find a way to win in San Antonio on Monday then the team will need both PF Paul Millsap (18.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG) and C Dwight Howard (13.3 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG) to really play well inside. With Aldridge out indefinitely, there’s a real opportunity for Atlanta to dominate the paint in this game. Millsap will need to knock down some outside shots also, but there should be more available at the rim than usual. Howard, meanwhile, must continue to clean the glass and protect the rim. As for the outside scoring, that could come from SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.7 PPG). Hardaway Jr. is having an incredible year for Atlanta, and he has been even better as of late. Over the past five games, Hardaway Jr. is averaging 17.4 PPG on 53.3% shooting from the floor and 36.4% shooting from three. If he can get hot on Monday then the Hawks will have a good shot of winning this one. The team will, however, need some solid two-way play from PG Dennis Schroder (17.8 PPG, 6.2 APG). The Spurs are weak at the point guard position, so Schroder should really be able to thrive in this game.
San Antonio is a bit banged up right now, but this team has always been able to overcome injuries. If Kawhi Leonard (26.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 SPG) is able to play in this game then things should go pretty smoothly for San Antonio. He is the best two-way player in the game and has a real case to be the league MVP this season. If he is out then guys like PG Patty Mills (9.8 PPG, 3.3 APG), PF Pau Gasol (12.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG) and SF Kyle Anderson (3.3 PPG) could be counted on to do more offensively. In Saturday’s win over the Warriors Mills had 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the floor. He is capable of getting hot in a hurry and will be counted on to bring a spark in this one. Gasol also played well against Golden State, finishing with 10 points, seven boards and a block in 20 minutes of action. Gasol does not play as much as he used to, but he is still extremely effective when he is on the floor. Anderson, however, is not a guy that the Spurs are always able to count on. He thrived against Golden State, though. In 32 minutes of action, Anderson had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. If he can fill up the stat sheet again then the Spurs should win this one.