The Warriors and the Hawks will clash in what could be the biggest game of the season this far.
Both teams set the longest winning streaks in franchise history en route to the top of their respective conferences, so now they will meet with the best record in the league on the line.
The Warriors, who had the NBA’s best record nearly all season (thanks greatly to a 16-game win streak), try to hand the Hawks their first home loss in six weeks. Atlanta took the best record in the league last week after reeling off 19 straight wins but that run ended Monday in New Orleans and Golden State has won three in a row to reclaim the lead by percentage points.
The Hawks are riding an 11-game home win streak dating to December 26, their longest since a 12-game run to close 2009-10, after beating the Wizards 105-96 on Wednesday. Atlanta’s 24-3 home record is second to the 23-2 mark of Golden State, which has lost five of their last eight contests on the road.
Both teams have become title contenders because of their similarly unselfish, well-rounded styles, although Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson give the Warriors two of the league’s top 10 scorers while the Hawks have no one in the top 30. Golden State and Atlanta rank 1-2 in assists per game and three-point accuracy.
The Warriors own the best offense in the league, averaging 111.1 points on 48.4 percent shooting, but they also hold opponents to an NBA-low 42.1 percent. The Hawks are among the leaders in all those categories, and they’re the first team in NBA history to have their starting five named as the Eastern Conference players of the month after a 17-0 January.
The teams haven’t met since March, and the Warriors have won the past five meetings. However, the Hawks didn’t have an injured Al Horford for four of those contests, and Paul Millsap only played the last two. The absence of Horford and Millsap allowed David Lee to key the streak with 20.2 points per game on 56.3 percent shooting.
Curry and Thompson haven’t been so effective offensively against the Hawks, averaging a combined 22.8 points and missing 32 of 42 three-point attempts, but they’ve helped shut down Atlanta’s backcourt, as Jeff Teague has averaged 10.8 points on 33.8 percent shooting in the past six meetings, while Kyle Korver has totaled just 15 points over the last three, going 3 of 15 from three-point range.
In a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs will host the Miami Heat Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs ended Miami’s hopes of a three-peat with a 104-87 victory over the Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last June.
It was an impressive performance by the Spurs in winning their fourth NBA title. They displayed the team concept that has made them one of the best franchises in the league the last two decades.
For Miami, it’s a much different team than the one San Antonio demolished in five games. LeBron James bolted for Cleveland as a free agent in the offseason and Dwyane Wade won’t be in the lineup Friday with a hamstring injury.
San Antonio appears headed toward another postseason run and have recorded eight wins in the last 10 games. The defending champion Spurs posted a 110-103 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and were led by Tim Duncan’s 26 points and 10 rebounds.