Atlanta Hawks: The 2011-12 schedule, just in case
There is no league business because of the lockout but there is a schedule. There have been no bargaining session between owners and players since last month but let’s be optimistic and assume the schedule will go off as planned and the Hawks will open Nov. 2 at Minnesota.
Usually there would be some major free-agent signings by now and there would be a better sense of how teams might stack up. As it stands now, the Hawks have just seven players with guaranteed contracts for next season. By comparison, Miami has nine players with guaranteed deals (assuming no one is going to make a run at restricted-free agent Mario Chalmers), Chicago has nine players, Boston has seven (assuming Jeff Green stays put) and Orlando has 10.
But all five of the East’s top teams can pretty much return with their cores intact (with perhaps Orlando as an exception since J-Rich will be a free agent). So here’s a quick look at some schedule highlights for the Hawks:
- Last season Atlanta’s early schedule was grueling, if not by quality (of opponents) then quantity (of games). This time they only play 13 games in October/November with just two sets of back-to-backs.But nine of those 13 games are against playoff teams, including road games vs. Chicago, Orlando and Miami and home games vs. Dallas and Boston.
- The busy stretch is in March, when the Hawks play 17 games with 11 on the road and six sets of back-to-backs. They close out the month with eight games in 12 days.
- The Hawks are scheduled to play a total of 20 sets of back-to-back games. They are to play four games in five nights on two occasions and have 11 stretches of three games in four nights.
- For the third consecutive season the Hawks will play on Thanksgiving Day on TNT. They have seven other games scheduled for national TV, all on ESPN.
- The MLK Day opponent is Toronto on Jan. 16.
- Weekday games at Philips Arena are set to start at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat