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Game preview: Warriors head east, starting in Atlanta

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The Warriors head East for one of their last big season road trips, first starting in Atlanta. Can they bring the momentum gained against the Clippers into their matchup against the Hawks?

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
Atlanta
Golden State Warriors
49-5 (25-5 ROAD)
vs
Atlanta Hawks
31-26 (17-11 HOME)
How To Watch
February 22, 2016
Phillips Arena — Atlanta, GA
5:00 p.m. PST
NBA TV | CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Peachtree Hoops
INJURIES

Festus Ezeli - OUT (Knee - Indefinitely)

Andrew Bogut - Questionable (Achilles)

James Michael McAdoo - Questionable (Toe)

Tiago Splitter - OUT (hip)

★★★

Team overviews

The Warriors... had a great victory over the Clippers in L.A. on Saturday night. They now embark on a tough east coast stretch that will take them through Atlanta before hitting Florida and the dangerous Miami night life to face the Heat and the Magic.

The Warriors rebounded from a tough loss against the Portland Trail Blazers like they have all season with a balanced showing and fantastic effort that wasn't as close as the score depicted. I applaud Steve Kerr for letting the bench attempt to finish the game, but the Clippers wouldn't roll over and die, even getting a half court heave at the buzzer that could have tied the game.

The team continues to deal with careless turnovers, but makes up for it with amazing shooting. Good to see Klay get his feet back after a rough night in Portland with a great showing in L.A. (32 points on 11-22 shooting). Can the team continue to put in great efforts around Steph Curry on their way to more road victories? Andrew Bogut will be a game-time decision after dealing with some leg tightness. He might not be the best match up against the non-traditional Hawks lineup, where guys like Mo Speights and Draymond Green should see plenty of time at the 5.

The Hawks... get their first shot at the Warriors this season. Remember last season when the two teams clashed, and it was considered the big game of the season? Since that game, the Hawks have taken a slow decline on their way to a playoff fizzle-out, and continued into a disappointing season so far. They currently find themselves safely above .500 at 31-26, but have lost 6 of their last 10 including a two game losing streak (dropped a game to the Bucks Sat night in double OT).

Where has the decline come from? They score about the same number of points per game last last season, but their defense has taken a hit (DeMarre Carroll left in free agency which has had an impact). Their pace has actually gone up since last year, however their efficiency rating has gone down, making them less effective. They have lost productivity from an aging Kyle Korver, who is having one of the worse seasons of his career (shooting 38%, lowest since 2009). That team has played so poorly so far there was big expectations that they would begin to trade off parts at the deadline. Instead, they actually picked up a player in Kirk Heinrich and have put their focus on the playoffs.

What to make of this team?

The Hawks should make the playoffs this season, but face a tough road against the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. They have not done well against the East's elite, posting losses against the Cleveland and Toronto, plus the West elite this season. They have a tough schedule to end the year as well, with trips left to all the league's toughest matchups. With the bottom of the East getting better, the Hawks would have to think that remaining in the sixth or seventh spot would be a victory.

Their style of play is a tough match up for the Warriors, as they have good athletes and scorers in Al Horford and Jeff Teague. Credit should also be given to Warriors favorite Kent Bazemore, who has made himself into a solid NBA player and is averaging over 10 ppg.

Welcome, Anderson Varejao!

The Warriors signed Anderson Varejao (a name I will now have to learn to consistently spell) last night and he could possibly be with the team Monday night in Atlanta. It will be very nice to have the extra big man on the court. Can he make an impact with the team? His defense and rebounding will be welcomed with open arms, and I am guessing he will be a great fit. Welcome to the team!

Predictions

The Warriors have good momentum extending through the trip, and usually answer losses with prolonged winning streaks. I don't envision more let-downs coming in this trip until after they leave Miami and, with the extra day off, I think they should be in great shape and lively spirits. Plus, Steph Curry has shown his blatant disrespect for road opponents, consistently coming to your home, sitting on your couch, eating your leftovers and not even leaving a thank you note. I picture him to have a great game in Atlanta, showing no mercy for the home crowd.

Warriors take this thing 105-92 and Atlanta never really gets close enough to sweat.