The Atlanta Hawks moved to 31-23 on a win on Saturday night to begin a six-game road trip that could define what happens the rest of the year. Atlanta will play the Detroit Pistons Monday night before heading west. The Utah Jazz come up on Wednesday before a Friday night game at the Phoenix Suns. The trip will end with back-to-back games starting Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers and Mar. 4 at the Denver Nuggets. With the caliber of those teams, Atlanta needs at least three more wins on this trip.
Detroit and Phoenix have been awful all season long, so those should be Hawks victories. Utah, however, is a solid basketball team that is going to give Atlanta some trouble along with a Denver team that is unbeatable at home. That leaves the game against the Lakers. There is no doubt that the Lakers appear to be playing better since the All-Star break, so this is a game where the stars of Atlanta must step up.
If Josh Smith and Al Horford can score 50 points with 20 rebounds between them, the Hawks will likely beat the Lakers and get that third victory on the trip. With just 28 games left in the regular season Atlanta is now battling for a quality playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and despite the fact that the coming games are against Western Conference teams, it is an important trip. This could be a good barometer of things to come for the Hawks as the 2013 season begins to come to an end.