Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Hawks will face many new challenges against familiar foes.
Atlanta Hawks fans have a lot to look forward to as we draw closer to the 2013-14 NBA season. With a new head coach and many new players, this year brings with it many dramatic stories and tales of intrigue.
Additionally, this season Atlanta faces one of the league's toughest schedules. Before it’s all said and done, the Hawks will play 20 total sets of back-to-back games. For perspective, that is only one less than the Charlotte Bobcats, who lead the league with 21.
At one point in the season, the Hawks will play five sets of back-to-back games in succession equating to 10 games in a mere 16 days. Eighteen of their 20 total back-to-back sequences involve home and away games. The other two are all away.
Atlanta’s longest home stretch will be a scant four games. Their longest road trip will be six games.
As if incorporating a laundry list of new components—head coach, complicated offense and a slew of players—won’t be hard enough, the schedule doesn’t make the season any easier. With all of that said, let’s take a look at the most anticipated games on the schedule.
The Hawks face the Toronto Raptors November 1.
While this may not be their first game of the season, it will be the first time that Atlanta fans will get to see their new-look Hawks up close in Philips Arena.
For fans that insist the Hawks will be a playoff contender, this game will serve as an early barometer. The Toronto Raptors also hope to be in the playoff mix behind the Eastern Conference’s power teams.
Thoughts of what could've been may still dance in some Hawks fans' heads, but Dwight Howard chose Houston.
The player that Hawks fans had hoped would come and relieve Al Horford of the center position, coincidentally, was also an Atlanta native. However, the chances that Dwight Howard would sign with the Hawks died as soon as All-Star point guard Chris Paul announced he would stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.
While Howard will likely be aiming to prove that he made the right decision in choosing to play alongside James Harden, this game will have its own meaning for Atlanta. This will be a great litmus test for the Hawks’ smaller frontcourt.
Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer once mentored the likes of Tony Parker. Now, he pays a visit with a team of his own.
After 19 seasons in San Antonio, Mike Budenholzer is on his own now. He travels to San Antonio as a head coach in his own right, looking to prove to his teacher, Gregg Popovich, that he has what it takes to coach in this league.
This game will be worth watching to see how well the Hawks have adapted the system that has helped the Spurs to over a decade of sustained success.
Will the Hawks be ready for the hot-handed Steph Curry when the Warriors come to Philips Arena?
In last year’s playoffs, the Golden State Warriors captured the attention of many NBA fans with their quick pace and electric three-point shooting. Their play pushed the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the second round and proved that they are a team worth watching.
The Hawks, while not the Spurs, have been rebuilt in their likeness. If Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and Mike Scott can contribute from three-point range, this game could be very exciting.
Can Al Horford and Paul Millsap stand toe-to-toe against these low-post bullies in the East?
The Hawks starting lineup skews on the small side. While they have had success with Horford at center, without Josh Smith they will be lacking a considerable amount of weak-side help defense and rebounding.
Can Horford and Paul Millsap step up to the challenge that the Indiana Pacers' imposing front line will bring to Atlanta? Will Elton Brand be able to provide enough help in spurts to lessen the pounding that the Hawks are sure to take down low?
This, however, will be the second game between these two teams. So, what makes this game noteworthy?
This is one of two regular-season games being played in foreign countries as a part of the NBA’s Global Games initiative. The Hawks will be hosting the Nets at the O2 Arena in London, England.
That’s right! The only home game that Atlanta has in this series will be played in London. Coincidentally—or perhaps not—the other game, which features the Minnesota Timberwolves playing host to the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City, has the same problem.
The Mexico City game is the only home game that the Wolves have in that series as well.
Will the Miami Heat slice up the Atlanta Hawks en route to another division title?
As two-time defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat are the benchmark of success in the Southeast Division. While every game in this series will be special, being division rivals, this will be first of two home games in Atlanta—and it is being played on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
At this point in the season, the Hawks should have a good grasp of their offense and some semblance of chemistry in executing it. This should serve as a good measuring stick to determine how far Atlanta still has to go before they’ll be legitimate contenders.
Finally, after 44 games, Atlanta will face off with their former coach for the first time.
Larry Drew left for Milwaukee after Hawks GM Danny Ferry began interviewing for his replacement.
Even with a solid young frontcourt in Larry Sanders and John Henson, it will be hard for the Bucks to avenge their coach with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis both gone.