The Atlanta Hawks face the Utah Jazz tonight at Philips Arena in what should be a win for the Hawks. Atlanta cannot afford a letdown in tonight’s game against an inferior opponent. Right now, the Hawks currently hold the three seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-12. Just behind the Hawks sit a number of teams just waiting to gain ground on them. Therefore, in order to maintain their current position, Atlanta must bring one of their better performances tonight to secure a win. The Jazz are a young team with some talented individuals, but these players are nowhere near the caliber of some of the Hawks’ starters.
Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap are far better than any player that the Jazz put on the court. Utah may have some young, bright talents in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but as of right now, their games are not polished enough to challenge the big men for Atlanta. Horford is a two-time NBA All-Star, who recently has been tearing up opponents. Just last week against the Washington Wizards, he tied a career-high with 34 points and hit the game-winning buzzer-beater in order to get the win for his team. Tonight, Horford should impose his will down low again. Kanter and Favors may be physical big men, but no there’s no way those two can contain the Hawks’ star.
Teague has an interesting matchup in the game tonight. He faces the rookie Trey Burke, who is coming off his best performance of the season in which he scored a season-high 30 points against the Orlando Magic. Teague will be the x-factor in tonight’s game for the Hawks. If he brings his A-game on both sides of the ball, Utah has no chance. When Teague gets going, the Atlanta offense is almost unstoppable. Just look at Atlanta’s recent performance where the Hawk scored a season-high 124 points against the Sacramento Kings. In the game, Teague scored 18 points and tied a career-high with 15 assists. That kind of performance will be needed tonight if Atlanta wants to avoid a letdown.
The Jazz might have the worst record in the Western Conference, but the team plays hard every game. If the Hawks don’t match their effort and intensity in tonight’s game, Atlanta could easily lose despite having the better talent. This is not the game for the Hawks to not show up and have a letdown. Now is the time for the Hawks to gain ground and secure a hold on the three seed with a win. A letdown game allows other teams in the East to get closer and that’s the last thing Atlanta needs.