Atlanta Hawks Blog

A blog about Atlanta’s NBA franchise, from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Game preview: Hawks struggling to defend as they head to MSG

When/where: Noon today, Madison Square Garden

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Injuries: Hawks—DeAndre’ Bembry (groin) is out.

Knicks—Ron Baker (shoulder) and Joakim Noah (excused absence) are out.

What to watch for: The Hawks have lost five of their last six games, in large part because their defense has regressed after a good month. Over the past six games the Hawks allowed 116.3 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark by far over that stretch. It’s nearly four points worse than the Nets and Suns, who are tied for 29th over that stretch.

Before the Hawks lost to the Celtics on Friday, coach Mike Budenholzer said he wasn’t sure why his team’s defense has fallen off.

“Individually, we’ve got to be better on the ball,” he said. “Our activity, getting to 50/50 balls and loose balls. I can’t really put my finger on why we’ve slipped back, though, to be honest with you. I thought we were playing a lot better defensively. Hopefully we can turn that tide back and get to where we are playing really good on that end of the court.”

The Knicks have lost five of their last six games to slide to the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Two nights before the Celtics routed the Hawks without Kyrie Irving they did the same to the Knicks. The Knicks then lost at the Bucks on Friday to end a stretch of 16 games out of 20 on the road.

Ex-Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. went 1-for-14 from the field against the Bucks after he was 1 for-10 against the Celtics.

The Hawks are facing the Knicks for the third and final time this season after the teams split the previous meetings. The Hawks won 116-104 on Nov. 24 at Philips Arena and the Knicks won 111-107 on Dec. 10 at Madison Square Garden.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.