Daniel Christian of Peachtree Hoops answers some questions about the Hawks in advance of tonight's game in Phoenix.

The Phoenix Suns get their first taste of the new-look Atlanta Hawks tonight at home. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their current look has been kind to them, as they've been dealing with a plethora of injuries and have lost 9 of their last 10 games.

Peachtree Hoops' Daniel Christian answers a few questions about Jeff Teague, the state of the Hawks and his thoughts on tonight's game.

Also check out the Bright Side Q&A about tonight's game over at Peachtree Hoops to see what I had to say about Goran Dragic, Miles Plumlee and Jeff Hornacek.

Q: Jeff Teague signed a lucrative new contract in the offseason and has put up respectable 16 and 7 per game. What are Teague's biggest strengths and weaknesses?

A (Daniel Christian): Teague's play has been impressive this season, but it's also created plenty of dissent within the Hawks fan base. When aggressive, Teague is one of the better point guards in the league. He's crazy quick off the dribble and generally a nightmare for opposing defenses in transition. He's effective in the pick-and-roll, although without Horford as his counterpart he's had a little more of a difficult time (understandably so), and he's historically been a respectable outside shooter (his shooting numbers have taken a dip this year).

But all too often of late, he's been prone to poor shooting nights accompanied with a lackadaisical disposition. His defense has always been suspect, and that, along with other (often ridiculous) complaints, led to a minor clamoring for Teague to be traded at the deadline. The rumors of Hawks-Knicks talks only accentuated these feelings for some, but the bottom line remains that Teague has been, on the whole, very effective for the Hawks. He didn't keep up his torrid start to the year, but he's still, at this point, the best fully healthy player on the Hawks roster (get well soon, Millsap).

Q: With all the injuries, the Hawks are struggling of late having lost 10 of 12 February games. And now Millsap is out. Which player has stepped up the most lately, giving hope to the Hawk masses?

A: It has to be Mike Scott. He poured in 30 points against the Knicks in February and has generally been the biggest surprise for the Hawks this season. He's been impressive offensively all season, but with an increased role, we're seeing more of his strong offensive arsenal. In addition to Scott's relative personal successes, Shelvin Mack had career games in Teague's short injury absence. Mack and Scott have both been contributing at a secondary level all season, and given their career trajectories 1-2 years ago, that's quite a testament to the Hawks' player development system. But still, however fun these guys are, they aren't the one's you want leading your team.

Q: What do the Hawks need to do to win on Sunday night in Phoenix?

A: Without Millsap, Horford, Pero Antic, and Gustavo Ayon it seems difficult to imagine the Hawks winning many more games. That's almost their entire front line. The only real pieces that remain are Scott and the elderly Elton Brand. The Hawks are going to need to play small and hope Korver gets in his transition three-groove and Teague finds success at the rim, because the offense (or defense) isn't likely to come up front.

Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSA The Phoenix Suns probably should have lost on Friday night to the New Orleans Pelicans. They let the Pellies shoot 53.8 percent from the field and that includes a 14-of-18...

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Both the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks came into the season with brand new rosters around an incumbent star (Al Horford for Atlanta, Goran Dragic for the Suns), and both teams exceeded expectations this season. But while the Suns are just about to get healthy, the Hawks are falling apart.

The Phoenix Suns face an injury-riddled and reeling Atlanta Hawks team on Sunday night, needing to win to keep their playoff chances strong before a brutal end-of-season schedule takes over.

The Hawks had reached a high-water mark of 25-21 on February 1, staying strong even after Al Horford went down to a season-long injury. In the Eastern Conference, that was good enough for home court advantage in the first round.

But then injuries hit again. Their second (Gustavo Ayon) and third string center (Pero Antic) both went down with injury, and now leading scorer and rebounder Paul Millsap (knee) is out as well.

The Opponent

A once-promising season in Atlanta is now teetering on the edge of disaster. The Hawks have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

To imagine the Hawks without Horford AND Millsap is to imagine the Suns without Bledsoe AND Dragic. Oh yeah, we don't have to imagine that. The Suns without Dragic and Bledsoe were 23-point losers to lotto bound Utah four days ago.

Check out Peachtree Hoops for more on the Hawks

The Suns

Boy did the Suns need that win on Friday night. After a very disappointing week marred by Dragic's injury, they needed every bit of the Dragon's 40 points to upend the hot-shooting New Orleans Pelicans.

Now the Suns are boosted by a couple more pieces of good news. On Saturday, the Suns signed a veteran energy guy for rebounding down the stretch. Our own contributor, Bryan Gibberman, was there to catch all the quotes. While Shavlik Randolph hasn't even played in the NBA this season, some already see him as a better option than Miles Plumlee. Let's not go that far. Yet.

Also on Saturday, Eric Bledsoe played a 5-on-5 scrimmage for the first time since injuring his knee against the Clippers on December 30. GM McDonough gave ringing praise for Bledsoe's work.

"He said the knee felt really good and has recovered well every time he has pushed himself harder," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. "Today, we did primarily 5-on-5 and it will be interesting to see how he responds tomorrow. You still see the explosiveness, see the burst and the ability to get by his guy and finish at the rim. We are optimisitic he will help us down the stretch."

Dionte Christmas last week said Bledsoe looks just as good as he always has. Coach Jeff Hornacek said Bledsoe has had zero soreness or swelling since ramping up his workouts prior to Saturday's 5-on-5 test. The only issue now is when Bledsoe can run up and down the court full speed more than a few times before getting too winded to play full out.

Barring any setbacks, expect a promotion to the active roster any time now. Maybe Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, or Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both games are on NBATV, in case you go for that kind of thing.

The Stats

Screen_shot_2014-03-02_at_7

Since Paul Millsap has already been ruled out of this game against the Suns and Al Horford is out for the season, I only listed the active Hawks players among the leaders in scoring, rebounding and minutes.

The Hawks are 28th in total rebounds for the whole season, a problem only heightened by missing Millsap tonight.

The Lineups

Screen_shot_2014-03-02_at_7

The Key Matchup

The Hawks are a real mish-mash now, with a patchwork front line of DeMarre Carroll and Elton Brand. Carroll has been the small foward all season and played fairly well, but is now forced to play PF with Millsap out. The Hawks just signed second round pick and former college phenom Mike Muscala, so we might see him get some time on that front line tonight.

The Suns really need to win the battle of the boards tonight, and control the Hawks' three-point shooting which remains strong thanks to Kyle Korver getting 34 minutes a night.

The Prediction

I have a hard time seeing the Suns lose this one, unless Dragic takes the night off. The Hawks are reeling. The Suns just need to keep that foot on their throats.

PHOENIX — Suns guard Eric Bledsoe was a full participant in practice on Saturday for the first time since undergoing meniscus surgery on his knee, but there’s still no set return date....

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The Suns had an ugly week, going 1-2 overall, but punctuated by a big win on national TV to end it on a high note. Several players made their mark this week, including Mr. 40 points, but one player is really starting to come into his own and could soon become another play maker on both sides of the court.

The NBA is all about which player and team can rule the court in the most epic fashion and Bright Side of the Sun has teamed up with Crown Royal to rank the best of the best Phoenix Suns players each and every week. Which player(s) ruled the court this week? #ReignOn

Archie Goodwin aka "The Mongoose"

Weekly Stat Averages:

Minutes: 17   Points: 8.6   FG%: .385   Rebounds: 4.3  Steals: 1.0

Although this week will be remembered for the way that Goran Dragic played, and how he dominated the New Orleans Pelicans on a sore ankle to score 40 points, there was another player who also turned some heads.

Archie Goodwin, the 29th draft pick in the 2013 draft, has always been considered an investment for the future since he was first picked by the Suns.  The Suns' front office believed that the then 18 year-old Goodwin had blue-chip talent and would have been a lottery pick in the 2014 draft if he had stayed at Kentucky another year.

Knowing that it would take time to develop Archie's skill set and polish his game was part of the plan.  The Suns have been bringing him along very slowly this season, without expectations or pressure, giving him mostly spot minutes on the court and sending him to the D-League on a couple of assignments to give him extra playing time.

However, in the last few games, the Suns have begun to give Goodwin a few more minutes, and his improvement over when he first began playing this season has been apparent.

Looking at the stats above, nothing seems spectacular about his play based solely on the numbers alone.  However, when you watch him play, you can't help but notice the raw talent and immense potential.

Archie had his break out game against Utah this week, in one of the worst overall games the Suns played this season.

In that game, Goodwin played 27 minutes and scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting.  He also grabbed 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and registered a block as well.

Goodwin also scored 10 points in the game before against the Timberwolves, where he went 5-9 from the field in his 16 minutes of play.

Although Archie only played 8 minutes last night and failed to score against the Pelicans, this has definitely been his best week as a Sun.  If nothing else, it is giving him valuable experience competing against NBA talent, and will help him continue to develop into the player the front office envisioned him becoming when they drafted him.

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How will Eric Bledsoe's eventual return impact Archie Goodwin's development this season?

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