When: 1:30 PM AZ Time
Where: In Cold-lanta
Watch: FoxSports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks are two of the half-dozen teams hurtling toward the bottom of the standings come the end of the year and lottery seedings.
Any single win can catapult you from worst (yay!) to 4th or lower (boo!), which is what happened when the Suns beat the also-on-a-double-digit-losing-streak Grizzlies lat Wednesday to drop from 1st to 4th.
Tonight, a similar scenario exists.
A win drops that team to lowly 6th in the reverse standings, while a loss allows the loser to hover amongst the 3 remaining teams with 19 wins, one below the Grizzlies (you’re welcome) and their 18 wins.
Ahhhh, the pressure!
The Hawks (19-44)
Unlike the Suns, the Hawks really have nothing in the barn yet. John Collins (age 20, scoring 10 and grabbing 7 rebounds a game) is their best young, young player and his ceiling is nowhere near All-Star level. The Hawks really need to hit it big in this draft, and likely a few more, before climbing out of the basement of the East.
The Hawks could have up to 3 picks in the first round of the 2018 draft. Their own hard-earned Top 5 pick, plus Minnesota’s and Houston’s. The latter picks are likely to be in the 20-30 range.
Taurean Waller-Prince (age 23) and Dennis Schroder (24) are good building blocks as well, but unless the Hawks get a move on with the rebuild they won’t be young anymore when they get back to the playoffs.
The Suns (19-45)
The Suns, meanwhile, have likely future All-Star Devin Booker (age 21) and rookie Josh Jackson (21) as their most solid building blocks.
Add in a Top-5 this summer and the right free agent signings, and T.J. Warren and Elfrid Payton (both 24) might have a better chance at reaching the playoffs before Schroder and Prince.
The Hawks beat the Suns in Atlanta earlier this season by a mere single point, buoyed by the since-bought-out Ersan Ilyasova (20 points) and Marco Belinelli (16 points).
Since that game, the Hawks have subtracted Belinelli and Ilyasova, and are down Bembry.
The Suns, on the other hand, have added Elfrid Payton, but are still likely without Tyson Chandler.
This could be an epically bad last four minutes tonight, as coaches, fans and players all grapple with the prospect of needing to lose in order to eventually win.