2013 Atlanta Hawks schedule: Key games will indicate playoff readiness

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest games of the Hawks' season will dictate the team's playoff chase.

Atlanta has retooled under the watch of general manager Danny Ferry by hiring coach Mike Budenholzer and replacing longtime forward Josh Smith with Paul Millsap. The Hawks shouldn't have much dropoff from last season, but there's sure to be a different look with Budenholzer running the show.

The key matchups of the 2013-14 season will pit Atlanta against familiar faces and foes that will test or torture the Hawks as they chase another postseason berth under new leadership.

Five games to watch

Nov. 20 vs. Pistons -- Atlanta hosts Smith for the first time. Though Smith left for Detroit with out-of-rhythm, two-point jumpers in the mind of Hawks fans, it's hard to forget that he was consistently a borderline All-Star. Atlanta replaced Smith with the stylistically different and under-appreciated Millsap, and both Detroit and Atlanta will be vying for postseason spots as lower-tier contenders.

Dec. 20 vs. Jazz -- Millsap would like a bittersweet moment in playing well against his former squad. The power forward left Utah as a free agent to play with All-Star center Al Horford and without young players -- with the Jazz, it was Derrick Favors -- nipping at his minutes.

Jan. 25 at Milwaukee -- There could be awkward feelings between some members of the Bucks and Hawks. Milwaukee's new coach, Larry Drew, left Atlanta and general manager Danny Ferry brought on Mike Budenholzer in his place. Former Hawks center Zaza Pachulia followed Drew. Additionally, Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague signed an offer sheet with the Bucks as a restricted free agent this summer after being recruited by Drew; the Hawks, however, matched the offer.

March 5 at Portland -- The ESPN-televised game is one with several intriguing individual matchups. Teague will square off against reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and Millsap will match up with Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

April 2 vs. Bulls -- A late-season game will provide a glimpse at how ready the Hawks are for a physical brand of playoff basketball should they be in the running for postseason play. If they are, there's a good chance the Hawks will be fighting for seeding, if not a spot itself.

Tough tests

To start January, the Hawks consecutively play the Warriors, Bulls, Nets, Pacers, Rockets, Grizzlies, Nets and Heat. In the four games following that grueling eight-game string, Atlanta will play the Magic, Spurs, Bucks and Thunder.

Easiest stretches

The Hawks should make sure to take advantage of the March schedule. There is an early road back-to-back against the Warriors and Clippers, but that road trip starts with Boston, Phoenix and Portland. After the tough pair of games, Atlanta closes out its longest road swing against Utah. For the rest of March, there aren't any games the Hawks would be considered major underdogs. There are also games against the Suns at home, the Sixers and Bobcats.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 20

Season opener: Oct. 30 at Dallas

Home opener: Nov. 1 vs. Raptors

Longest road trip: Six games (Feb. 26-March 10)

Longest homestand: Four games (Dec. 4-13)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
@ Dallas Wednesday, October 30 2013 8:30 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
Toronto Friday, November 01 2013 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, November 03 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Tuesday, November 05 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Thursday, November 07 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Saturday, November 09 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Charlotte Monday, November 11 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
New York Wednesday, November 13 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Friday, November 15 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Saturday, November 16 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Tuesday, November 19 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Detroit Wednesday, November 20 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Friday, November 22 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Boston Saturday, November 23 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Orlando Tuesday, November 26 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Wednesday, November 27 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Dallas Friday, November 29 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Washington Saturday, November 30 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
@ San Antonio Monday, December 02 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, December 04 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Friday, December 06 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Friday, December 13 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Saturday, December 14 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Monday, December 16 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Wednesday, December 18 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, December 20 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Monday, December 23 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Cleveland Thursday, December 26 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Saturday, December 28 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Sunday, December 29 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Tuesday, December 31 2013 1:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
Golden State Friday, January 03 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Chicago Saturday, January 04 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Monday, January 06 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Wednesday, January 08 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Houston Friday, January 10 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Sunday, January 12 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Thursday, January 16 2014 3:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Monday, January 20 2014 5:30 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Wednesday, January 22 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Saturday, January 25 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Monday, January 27 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Detroit Wednesday, January 29 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Friday, January 31 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Minnesota Saturday, February 01 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Tuesday, February 04 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Wednesday, February 05 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Memphis Saturday, February 08 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Chicago Tuesday, February 11 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Toronto Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Indiana Tuesday, February 18 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Washington Wednesday, February 19 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Friday, February 21 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
New York Saturday, February 22 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Chicago Tuesday, February 25 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Wednesday, February 26 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
MARCH
@ Phoenix Sunday, March 02 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Wednesday, March 05 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Friday, March 07 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, March 08 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Monday, March 10 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Milwaukee Thursday, March 13 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Denver Saturday, March 15 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Charlotte Monday, March 17 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Toronto Tuesday, March 18 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
New Orleans Friday, March 21 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Toronto Sunday, March 23 2014 1:00 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Monday, March 24 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Minnesota Wednesday, March 26 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Portland Thursday, March 27 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Washington Saturday, March 29 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Monday, March 31 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
Chicago Wednesday, April 02 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Cleveland Friday, April 04 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Indiana Sunday, April 06 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
Boston Wednesday, April 09 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Brooklyn Friday, April 11 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Miami Saturday, April 12 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Charlotte Monday, April 14 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Milwaukee Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
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