A date with the visiting Phoenix Suns on Friday would seem to be exactly the type of opportunity the Atlanta Hawks need to take advantage of to solidify their playoff standing, but the Hawks might have to try to do so without two starters. Forward Josh Smith (sprained left knee) and point guard Jeff Teague (sprained left ankle) are listed as questionable after missing Atlanta's previous game, an impressive 96-92 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was just the second win in eight games for the Hawks, who have slipped into a fifth-place tie with Boston and Chicago in the Eastern Conference. With or without Smith and Teague, the Hawks need to take care of the Suns, who have lost four of five after beginning a three-game road trip with a 111-81 loss at Houston on Wednesday. But Phoenix claimed the first meeting this season, 92-87 at home, and is trying to sweep the season series for the third time in the past five seasons.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Arizona (Phoenix), SportSouth (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE SUNS (22-43): Phoenix is 9-15 under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter and is tied with New Orleans for the worst record in the Western Conference. Losing big man Marcin Gortat (11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds) hasn't helped. The Suns have one of the league's most underrated point guards in Goran Dragic (14 points, 6.9 assists) and a solid forward in Luis Scola (12.4 points, 6.3 rebounds), but they lack a dynamic star who can take over a game.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (35-29): Atlanta's injury concerns continue to mount. The team is already thin in the backcourt with Lou Williams out for the season and can't afford to be without Teague (14.5 points, 7 assists) for long. Backup center Zaza Pachulia (Achilles) also is out, so Smith's absence creates a lack of frontcourt depth. Smith (17.2 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Al Horford (17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds) anchor the post and give the Hawks an excellent frontcourt.
1. Horford has scored in double figures in 23 consecutive games, the second-longest streak of his career.
2. The Suns have won eight of the last 10 meetings against Atlanta and 30 of the last 40.
3. Hawks SF Kyle Korver has made a 3-pointer in 57 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NBA since Peja Stojakovic's 62-game run from Jan. 16-Dec. 10, 2008.
PREDICTION: Hawks 97, Suns 93