2009-10 Hawks Schedule: Initial Thoughts
The 2009-10 schedule is out. Hooray! I don’t know about you, but I am starting to get a little antsy for the start of the action.
A few opening thoughts about the Hawks’ slate:
– The Hawks open the schedule against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Oct. 28, then host Washington on Friday October 30. It’s the first time the Hawks have opened with two straight home games since the strike-shortened 1998-99 season, when they opened with home wins over Cleveland and New Jersey.
– After last year’s bizarre home schedule highlighted by a 7-game homestand and an 8-game stretch as well, this year’s schedule is much more traditional. There are no ridiculous swings one way or the other; there are three 4-game road trips, one 5-game homestand and one 4-game homestand. Otherwise it’s pretty normal – a couple games here, a few games there – I remember Hawks GM Rick Sund saying last year that this kind of layout is much more preferable (no extremes one way or the other), so I expect he’ll be relatively pleased with how it turned out.
– I think the biggest news about the upcoming season is that for the first time in a long time, people around the country will have several chances to see what’s going on down here in the ATL. 7 nationally-televised dates are on the calendar (with 6 more slated for NBATV), more than the franchise has seen in 12 years. Six will be on televised on ESPN, while one is set for TNT – a Thanksgiving night tilt against the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic. More TV time = more respect – gotta love it!
– The biggest anomaly on the schedule is probably the home-and-home with Cleveland on back-to-back nights. The Hawks will host the Cavs at Philips Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 29, after which the teams will fly to Cleveland and do it again on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
– For those looking for rematches against last year’s playoff opponents, the Hawks first game against Miami will be Wednesday Nov. 18 at Philips Arena, while their first match-ups with the Cavs are during the aforementioned back-to-back.
– For Hawks fans still feeling the Hawks-Celtics rivalry, January is the month for you – 3 dates with the C’s within a span of 21 days. Atlanta hosts Boston on Friday, Jan. 8 (an ESPN broadcast), then do battle again in Boston the following Tuesday (Jan. 11 on NBATV), and finally they return to Philips for another Friday night collision on Jan. 29.
– The schedule, on paper at least, opens pretty favorably. Last year the Hawks kickstarted their run to the 4th seed in the East by winning their first 6 contests. That may be a tough task to repeat with 4 of the first 6 on the road this year, but of those six only the Lakers and Blazers were playoff teams a year ago.
– The toughest stretch? A case could be made for the last half of November, when Atlanta will play 8 straight against 2008 playoff teams.
I’ll be breaking down the schedule even further in a podcast with Bob Rathbun in the next day or so, but in the meantime – what do you think?