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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 23rd (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (30-23) at Milwaukee Bucks (26-27), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Hawks are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race and will take their push to the road Saturday, when they open a six-game trek against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Hawks are sixth in the East standings and sit only 1 1/2 games off the fourth spot. They have won four of six overall and recorded a 122-108 victory versus the Sacramento Kings Friday night as Josh Smith scored 18 points and Jeff Teague posted 20 and 12 assists to lead the way.
Smith, of course, was the subject of trade rumors and remained in Atlanta after Thursday's deadline. He was rumored to be headed to tonight's destination, Milwaukee.
"I'm glad I'm here," Smith said. "We've got to think about moving forward and keep pushing for better playoff position."
The Bucks instead landed J.J. Redick, who is expected to make his debut Saturday versus the Hawks.
Atlanta is 21-7 when scoring 100-plus points and 25-2 when leading into the fourth quarter. It has won two in a row on the road and owns a 12-13 mark away from Philips Arena this season.
Milwaukee is also in the postseason hunt, sitting eighth in the standings and two games off the seventh spot, and will try to bounce back from a recent loss to the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night.
Brandon Jennings made 12-of-18 shots and finished with 31 points and 11 assists. Monta Ellis netted 14 points, while Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova had a double-double apiece for the Bucks, losers in six of seven games. Sanders posted 12 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, and Ilyasova compiled 12 points and 12 boards.
Jennings also added 11 assists for his seventh double-double of the season. He has scored 30-plus points in back-to-back games and eight times this season.
The Bucks blew a 54-42 halftime lead and were swept by the Nets in the home- and-home series.
"Tonight, I think fatigue caught up to us a little bit, but I'm not going to blame it on that," said Sanders, who has blocked at least one shot in 35 straight games and has five or more in his last four games played.
Sanders leads the NBA with 3.26 blocks per game and may get some new teammates Saturday night. Newly-acquired guards Redick and Ish Smith and forward/center Gustavo Ayon are expected to make their Milwaukee debuts versus the Hawks and came over via trade with Orlando for forward Tobias Harris and guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih.
"My focus right now is helping this team secure a playoff spot and hopefully a higher playoff spot than the eighth seed, and making a playoff run with this team," Redick said. "I'm very happy to be back in the mix and to be on a playoff team. I have that playoff experience and I think I can help this team in that regard."
Redick and the Bucks will head to Texas for a two-game tour through Dallas and Houston next week.
Milwaukee and Atlanta are meeting for the first time this season. The Hawks went 2-1 in last season's series and have won four of the past six meetings between the teams.
02/23 10:39:41 ET
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