This meeting between the Hawks and Warriors isn’t accompanied by the same hype as their heavyweight battle a year ago in Atlanta.
The teams are moving in different directions.
On Feb. 6, 2015 the Hawks and Warriors played at Philips Arena in a game between the best the Eastern and Western Conference had to offer. The Hawks were 41-9 (.820) and atop the East. The Warriors were 39-8 (.830) and atop the West.
“Welcome to the NBA Finals,” Warriors coach said the morning of the game. A throng of media, local and national, descended on the city for the clash of the titans.
The record will show that the Hawks recorded a 124-116 victory that day. That was a long time ago.
The Warriors went on to capture the NBA Championship in dominant fashion. They have been even better this season as remain the best of the West with a 49-5 (.907) mark. They are chasing the league’s all-time best record that included 24 straight wins to start the campaign.
The Hawks lost in the Eastern Conference finals to end their historic season. This year has been marred by inconsistency. The Hawks are 31-26 (.544) and have already lost six more games than all of last season. They have lost two straight to start of a five-game homestand following the All-Star break. They have also lost four of their past five games and have slipped to fifth in the East. They are just three games ahead of the Pistons on the outside of the playoff race.
The times, they are a changin’.
The rematch in Atlanta is Monday night. The Hawks are desperate to return to their former selves.
“We don’t have an option,” Al Horford said of shaking off back-to-back home losses ahead of the meeting with the Warriors. “It’s hard. We have to refocus. We know we have our hands full on Monday.”
Paul Millsap was asked following the 117-109 double overtime loss the Bucks on Saturday whether the team is concerned that the season may be slipping away.
“No,” he simply said.
The Warriors are an NBA-best 25-5 on the road this season. They are 1-1 on a current six-game road trip. They return home on March 1 and will host the Hawks to start 17 of their final 24 games at home. They are 24-0 at home this season and have won 42 straight at Oracle Arena.
Of interest in Monday’s game will be the Warrior’s Stephen Curry’s quest for the NBA record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer, which is held by the Hawks’ Kyle Korver. Curry has hit from long-range in 125 straight games, two shy of Korver’s mark. Curry could pull within one on Monday, tie the record at the Heat on Wednesday and own it outright at the Magic on Thursday.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com