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Phoenix Suns kick off final road trip of season, take on Atlanta Hawks

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We've almost made it.

The vast majority of Suns fans have been daydreaming about the draft lottery since Christmas, but according to league stipulations, the games remaining on the schedule had to be played -- and it's almost over. Tonight the Suns will start their final road trip of this season gone awry, and in only 8 days we can begin our spring pastime of watching DraftExpress videos while 16 other teams do that whole playoff thing.

But by golly, basketball is going to be played in the meantime and we will cover it.

The Suns have dropped six straight after briefly looking not altogether terrible during a 6-7 stretch under interim coach Earl Watson. Devin Booker continued to surprise the league as he led the team in scoring during this stretch (I'm not looking it up, but who else could it have been?) and Brandon Knight had a couple big games peppered into his usual dish of malnourishing basketball.

With the recent news of Knight's season ending with that nagging sports hernia, this may be one of the last chances you'll have to soak in a starting lineup featuring Ronnie Price in the backcourt and Tyson Chandler and Alex Len savagely ruining all vestiges of spacing up front. You also might want to tune in to see if Chase Budinger can top the 4 trillion he posted on Sunday night in Utah.

The Hawks

After a brief flirtation with elite contender status, the Hawks have circled back into their accustomed role as Eastern Conference playoff filler. After a 11-3 stretch beginning February 26, they have dropped two straight to the two teams ahead of them in the East -- Toronto and Cleveland -- and should surely be looking to make quick work of a Suns team that has only pride to play for.

However, the last time these two teams met the Suns were languishing in a 1-14 stretch and actually stole a win on Archie Goodwin Game-Winner Night (which is what they should have called it).

And with that, Archie's spot in the rotation was cemented and the debate about his playing time officially ended. A historical night, indeed.

Anyway, while this Hawks team is not on the ridiculous plane of last year's 60-win squad, they're still better than they were in the Josh Smith years. They're currently locked in a dead heat with the Celtics for the third seed, which is the difference between facing LeBron James or DeMar DeRozan in the second round.

They can't afford to take any games off this late in the season, and while it's hard to treat a meeting with the 20-57 Suns as a playoff game, they absolutely need to treat it as exactly that.

Prediction

The Hawks win the short-game 117-91, but the Suns win the long-game when Booker steals a few moves from Kyle Korver's repertoire.