Examining the Hawks’ Season Schedule

Graham Chapple —  August 12, 2016
(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Normally I’d begin a column with some sort of introductory paragraph, loosely relating to the general topic of the column — in some sort of way — before getting on with the topic itself. Today I don’t feel like doing that, so we’re going to just jump straight into it — no foreplay today…

Last night the Atlanta Hawks’ regular season schedule was released, and there’s much to dissect and discuss.

The Hawks will have the benefit of beginning their season at home on October 27th against a division rival, the Washington Wizards — one of three games the Hawks will contest in October before the season shifts into gear in November.

We’re going to go through each month individually, but before we do there are some significant dates and items to mention:

  • The oh-so awaited return of Al Horford (and the Boston Celtics) to Atlanta is January 13th, which is way too long to wait, in my opinion. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN and it should be a fantastic game. Jeff Teague will make his Atlanta return on March 15th, but the Hawks and Pacers will meet in Indiana before that on November 27th. Atlanta’s marquee signing, Dwight Howard, will make his return to Houston on February 2nd, and I can’t imagine he’ll receive a video tribute or a warm reception from Houston and their fans respectively. The Rockets roll into Atlanta early enough in the season though, November 5th.
  • Very controversially, the Hawks will not host a game on Martin Luther King Day. Instead the Hawks will travel to New York where they’ll face the Knicks on MLK Day. This has left fans incensed and very upset at this scheduling decision made by the NBA. Since I’m not from the United States, I don’t fully understand or feel the same range of emotions that a lot of Hawks fans are feeling about this decision, but I understand that this is a big deal. The guys over at Peachtree Hoops shed some light on why the Hawks not hosting an MLK is a strange occurrence.

  • Tip-off at Philips Arena has been moved back from 8 p.m. Eastern Time to 7:30 ET on weekdays, with games taking place on Friday night tipping off at 8 p.m. (Thank you)
  • The Hawks were one of the few teams who played a ‘4 games in 5 nights’ sled last season. In fact, the Hawks played two sleds of ‘four in five’ last season, both in November. This year no NBA team will have to deal with such a sled, but to make up  for that, the Hawks have 18 back-to-backs instead…
  • The Atlanta Hawks Twitter account won social media (and not for the first time) last night with this amazing Tweet compiling their season schedule in nothing but emojis:

Amazing work. You guys do an amazing job. (Also, thank you so much for sharing my column about Malcolm Delaney)

Alright, with all that said, let’s break down each month of the Hawks’ season.

hawksoctobersched

Total games: 3
Home games: 2
Road games: 1
Back-to-backs: None
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 1
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 2

It’s easy to envision the Hawks going 3-0 to begin the season here. The Wizards could provide some stiff opposition, but these are all very winnable games. Nothing else major to comment about here, it’s just the beginning of a long season.

hawks novemberer sched

Total games: 16
Home games:
 6
Road games: 10
Back-to-backs: 5
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 8
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 8

A tough month for the Hawks here, November always seems to be tough for Atlanta. Road games against Cleveland, Utah, Indiana, New York, and Golden State should all prove to be very tough games. Add to that the wildcards like Miami and Washington on the road — it’ll be hard to judge where those two teams will stand in the early stages of the season, really. The Hawks will also embark on their longest road trip of the season in November — a five game trip that includes Indiana, Golden State and Utah. Better to get it out of the way early, I suppose.

But ten road games and five back-to-backs mean that the Hawks could see some cold November rain head their way, and the Guns ‘N Roses reference was intentional.

hawks december sched

Total games: 14
Home games:
 8
Road games: 6
Back-to-backs: 2
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 8
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 6

December looks as though it will provide a little relief following what looks to be a tough November. Or will it? Two games against OKC, two games against the Wolves (who the Hawks lost to twice last year), two road games against the Raptors, and home games against teams who could be among the playoff positions in the form of the Pistons, Hornets, Knicks, Magic and Heat. Denver on the road is never an easy game, but in saying that the Hawks will only have to deal with two back-to-backs and play eight home games — so they should be well rested.

It’s one of those months that really could go either way…

hawks jan sched

Total games: 15
Home games:
 8
Road games: 7
Back-to-backs: 3
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 8
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 7

What a great way to start the new year, eh? A game against a team the Hawks just can’t seem to be able to beat — the San Antonio Spurs. After this though, there’s not a whole lot of really difficult games. Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago on the road may prove to be tough, but those teams could also easily be below .500 at that time. Regardless, those are winnable games. Games against Boston and the Clippers at home will be great tests to see where the Hawks are really at in their playoff quest.

Overall, if there was a month in which the Hawks can make up for their difficult November and December this could be the month.

hawks feb sched

Total games: 11
Home games:
 4
Road games: 7
Back-to-backs: 2
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 6
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 5

The Hawks will head into the All-Star weekend with potentially three tough games on the road against the Kings (who the Hawks lost in Sacramento last season), Blazers, and Clippers. No one wants to head into the break on a losing streak but it’s conceivable that the Hawks could — those are tough games. Dwight Howard’s return to Houston at the beginning of the month will certainly be interesting, and a trip to Boston to end the month — a game that Al Horford will certainly be hyped for — will cap off what could be a tough month for the Hawks.

hawks march sched

Total games: 16
Home games:
 10
Road games: 6
Back-to-backs: 3
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 11
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 5

Here’s where the Hawks could begin to make up for lost ground — a six game home stand. That said, I don’t think March is an easy month for the Hawks as some make it out to be. Five of those teams in that six game home stand made the playoffs last season… Some fans and writers are pegging the Hawks to make ground in March, but games against the Cavs, the Warriors, two games against the Grizzlies, and games on the road against the Wizards, Spurs, and the Hornets will not be easy by any means… That said, games against the Nets (twice), the Sixers, and Suns should help, but that’s a tough month…

hawks april sched

Total games:
Home games:
 3
Road games: 4
Back-to-backs: 3
Games against teams with .500 or above records in 2015-16: 6
Games against teams with below .500 records in 2015-16: 1

Not the easiest way to finish off the regular season — three back-to-backs, a home and away sled against the Cavs, road games against the Bulls and Pacers, and a home game against the Celtics just for good measure. The one thing that may swing in the Hawks’ favor is that the Cavs may have the 1 seed wrapped up by April and may want to rest players… Maybe, or maybe they’ll want to beat Atlanta in submission, as they like to do.

Nothing comes easy in this league, and the Hawks will certainly have to scrap in order to attain home court advantage next season.

(Hawks schedule)

Graham Chapple

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One response to Examining the Hawks’ Season Schedule

  1. Berdj Joseph Rassam August 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    The Hawks have been repeatedly on the cusp of getting further along in the playoffs, but consistently falling short. This season should be no different.