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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks

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The Spurs took the first meeting at the beginning of the year, when few people took the Hawks seriously. Since then, they've run away with first place in the East and are on the short list of teams picked to emerge from the conference.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
March 22, 2015, 2:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The Gregg Popovich coaching tree has had itself a year, as two of Extraneous G's disciples will likely take the number-one seeds of their respective conferences. One of them is former assistant Mike Budenholzer whose Atlanta Hawks remain the class of the East after going 38-44 in his first year.

That's not to say the Hawks have people convinced as frontrunners to get to the Finals. The Cavs remain Vegas favorites by a landslide, while other teams have been a bit hotter over the past month. Atlanta's returning home after a tough six-game road trip out West in which it went 3-3, including losing its last two at Golden State and, on Friday, against the shorthanded Thunder. In the friendly confines of Philips Arena the Hawks have been especially tough, however: 30-4.

San Antonio rolls into town playing some of its best ball. A pair of respectable wins (Milwaukee and Boston) have softened the blow that was the loss to the lowly Knicks, as Kawhi Leonard continues to be incendiary on both sides of the floor. He'll face a strong defender in Carroll, who will look to make things difficult all night.

The Hawks wing rotation will be thinner than usual today without Kyle Korver and Mike Scott once again, while Thabo Sefolosha is questionable. Korver leaves the bigger hole for this team; the Hawks have lost two of the three games they've played with the 34-year-old, who's the main reason that they rank second in the league in three-point percentage. There are several shooters in their lineup, but no player brings the activity and threat level that he does on every possession.

Paul Millsap and Al Horford will have to work a bit harder without their fellow All-Star on the court. Still, both players are steady performers who should probably combine for 35 to 40 points today.

The guy who will miss Korver the most is point guard Jeff Teague, who not only racks up assists from his teammate's quick trigger, but is usually able to create for himself as well with the defense's attention occupied. Teams that are able to focus on Teague can have success against Atlanta, just as opponents that nullify Tony Parker can stymie the Spurs attack.

There is of course plenty of mirroring between these two teams, which will be really fun to watch. Ultimately the game will come down to execution: who commits the least turnovers and hits their open shots. The Spurs should win the rebounding battle against a small frontcourt, but the Hawks are younger and feisty. I expect a close one, with the role players' contributions perhaps being the decider.

vs.

Atlanta Hawks (53-16)

San Antonio Spurs (43-25)

March 22, 2015

Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

2:00 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Jeff Teague

PG

Tony Parker

Kent Bazemore

SG

Danny Green

DeMarre Carroll

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Paul Millsap

PF

Tiago Splitter

Al Horford

C

Tim Duncan


For the Hawks perspective, please visit Peach Tree Hoops.

Game prediction: Spurs by 3.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com