Programming note: Hawks-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
OAKLAND – It’s a regular-season game with relatively ordinary stakes. Yet when the Warriors and Hawks meet on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, it will be the game of the month in the NBA.
Just as it was the game of the month in February when the teams met in Atlanta.
The Warriors (53-13) are fast closing in on the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Atlanta (53-14) is even closer to notching the No. 1 seed in the East. Though it might be an NBA Finals preview, it certainly is the best each conference has to offer a month before the playoffs begin.
Each team, however, will be without its All-Star shooting guard, as Klay Thompson will not suit up for the Warriors and Kyle Korver will not dress for the Hawks. The Warriors likely will turn to Justin Holiday to replace Thompson, while ex-Warrior Kent Bazemore is expected to replace Korver.
Warriors by 6.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Andrew Bogut vs. Al Horford -- Bogut likes to stay in the paint. Horford can roam out to the elbows and beyond, where he can use his quickness. Bogut concedes it's one of his toughest matchups. If he has a rough start, look for Festus Ezeli or Marreese Speights or David Lee – someone a bit nimbler.
Stephen Curry vs. Jeff Teague -- With Thompson out, Curry will feel the need to do more. Teague is good enough to make that difficult. A big edge goes to the Warriors if Curry can outscore Teague while committing fewer turnovers. Curry is the more explosive, but Teague the essence of steady.
Draymond Green vs. Paul Millsap -- Both guys wear hard hats and carry lunch pails, but Green is the more versatile defender and that rare power forward capable of leading in transition. The Warriors lately have had trouble rebounding. This matchup may tell us if that trend continues.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Cherish the ball -- If the Warriors have one of their high-turnover nights, it could be enough to swing things to Atlanta. The Hawks are willing to fire treys in transition.
2) Defensive discipline -- Atlanta's offense is about movement and seeking the open look. The Warriors can gamble, but their risks must be calculated and intelligent.
3) Feel the energy -- The Warriors have to take advantage of an Oracle crowd that will be hyped and loud. It's not an experience to which the Hawks are accustomed.
"In the grand scheme of things, this game is not the be-all, end-all. It's a huge game. There's going to be a lot of people, a lot media, a lot of hype about it, the two best teams in the league. But win or lose, we can't get too high or too low after the game." -- Warriors center Andrew Bogut
Warriors 8-2, Hawks 8-2.
Warriors: G Klay Thompson (sprained right ankle) is listed as out.
Hawks: G Kyle Korver (broken nose), F Mike Scott (left toe fracture) and G Thabo Sefolosha (right calf strain) are listed as out.
The Warriors have won five of the last six meetings, with the loss coming on Feb. 6 at Atlanta. The teams are dead even, 9-9, over the last 18 meetings.