PREVIEW: Red-hot Atlanta Hawks face Los Angeles Clippers

Mar 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) shoots past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski (17) in the third quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks will try to make it two wins in a row at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Monday’s game is the second of an eight-game road trip for Atlanta. The Hawks own the longest winning streak currently in the NBA at eight games.

Atlanta’s 6-foot-9 power forward John Collins had a big day for the Hawks in the 99-94 win over the Lakers, finishing with 27 points and 16 rebounds. The Lakers tried to double crafty point guard Trae Young to get the ball out of his hands, and several times he made them pay by finding Collins for easy buckets.

Collins is averaging 18.6 points and 8.9 a contest in the month of March.

“He’s unbelievable,” Young said about Collins, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s been playing great. They’re going to continue to send two (defenders) and leave him open, and he’s going to continue to knock them down and make the right play.

“It’s just great seeing him play the way he’s been playing right now. And we’re going to need it from him the rest of the season.”

While Young is Atlanta’s leading scorer, averaging 25.7 points per game, he’s also done a nice job of finding open teammates like Collins. Young’s 9.4 assists per game is No. 3 in the NBA.

The Hawks have also been more consistent on the defensive end of the floor since Nate McMillan took over as the team’s head coach. The Hawks are 8-0 with McMillan leading them.

At 3-2 since the All-Star break, the Clippers are coming off a 125-98 blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets at home on Saturday.

Los Angeles likely will be playing without starters Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka. Beverley has missed the last four games with right knee soreness, while Ibaka has missed the last three games due to lower back tightness.

With Lakers superstar LeBron James out indefinitely after suffering a high-ankle sprain in his team’s loss to the Hawks, the Clippers have a chance to make up some ground in the Western Conference, hosting 10 of their next 12 games.

At 27-16 overall, the Clippers are just four games behind the Western Conference leaders, the Utah Jazz.

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“It’s the same mindset we had in the last two Dallas games,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said, when asked what he wants to see from his team over the rest of the regular season. “Just coming out with a defensive mindset and competing at a high level on the defensive end. We know we’re going to be able to score the basketball, so I think defense is our key.”

Clippers swingman Terance Mann added: “It’s pretty simple — we’ve just got to play hard. We’re a scary team when we play hard. Over these last two games, even though we didn’t have the right outcome the second time in Dallas, we still played hard. And I think playing hard is what we’ve got to continue to do to be successful.”

–Field Level Media