I Can See For Miles and Miles

By Jon Cooper

Wishing the Atlanta Hawks luck as they left for their upcoming road trip Sunday afternoon might have been as much for them to get to the court as for them getting the job done on it.

If you think the stretch of nine games in 12 days to open the season was tough, try this trip on for size. Over those next eight days, starting tonight in Milwaukee, the Hawks play five games -- at Milwaukee, at San Antonio, at Detroit, at New Orleans, and at Toronto -- in eight days, going back and forth between the Eastern and Central times zones twice.

They'll cover 5,800 miles and approximately 11 hours, 37 minutes of flight time -- provided there are no delays.

Surviving the travel actually might be harder than surviving the games, themselves, as the combined record of the five teams is 27-52 (a 37.5 win percentage) and the Hawks, who are 4-4 on the road, play three last-place teams (4-13 Detroit, 3-13 New Orleans, and 4-13 Toronto) and only one with a winning record (10-7 San Antonio).

But it’s still the NBA, where you just never know, especially during this crazy season and on this crazy road trip.

For those who want to try to see a traveling secretary's nightmare, here's a look at the itinerary for the trip.

The Hawks left Atlanta Sunday afternoon for Milwaukee, a flight of 668 miles, approximately one hour, 20 minutes in duration.

The Bucks may be 6-9 but they also are 4-1 at the Bradley Center and have won two straight games -- both on the road. Oddly, the Hawks arrived in Milwaukee before the Bucks did, as they were busy beating Miami Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Following Monday's game, the Hawks get back on a plane bound for Texas. That's a two-hour, 13-minute flight and adds another 1,107 miles to the ledger.

Atlanta gets Tuesday off then takes the court Wednesday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, where the Hawks haven't won in 13 years. This year, the Spurs are 9-1 at home, with the first loss coming on Friday, 88-86, to Sacramento. That loss started the two-game losing streak they carried into their Monday-night game at New Orleans.

Once the dust settles in San Antonio, Atlanta flies back into the Eastern Time zone, landing in Detroit after a 1,238-mile flight, lasting 2:30.

The Hawks play the Pistons on Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons are last in the Central Division, at 4-13 and are scuffling at home, where they are 3-6, but they have had the Hawks number at home over the years, having won 36 of 48 meetings. Recent history is on the Hawks’ side as they have gone 2-3 over the last three seasons at The Palace, splitting last season.

Once the Hawks are done in Detroit, they get back in the air and jump back into Central Time, visiting New Orleans. That's another 939 miles of airtime, and another approximately 1:53 of travel.

While it must be tempting to hit Bourbon Street during their off-day Saturday, It's doubtful the players will be expending too much energy there. They'll need to conserve their strength and make sure they don't overlook the Hornets, who carried a Western Conference-worst 3-13 record and a League-worst 1-8 home mark into play Monday night. That record might be even worse by the time Atlanta arrives, as New Orleans host San Antonio, visits Oklahoma City Wednesday then hosts Orlando Friday. The Hawks have lost five of six in New Orleans, but all that was during the Chris Paul years.

Atlanta makes its penultimate flight of the trip and final time zone jump (back into Eastern Time) after the game, but there is a catch, as the team also must travel out of the country, landing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The flight tacks on another 1,113 miles (1,791 kilometers locally) and 2:14 in duration.

The Hawks, who topped the Raptors, 93-84, last Monday on Martin Luther King Day at Philips Arena, will try to add to the woes of the Atlantic Division cellar-dwellers, who are 4-13 and only 2-5 at the Air Canada Centre.

Atlanta has had success in Toronto, going 7-6 over the last seven years, having won or tied the season series in Toronto six of the last seven years, winning three of the last four games, and sweeping the Raptors last year.

Once the Raptors game is over, the only remaining challenge is getting through customs. Once the Hawks do that, they have a relatively easy 735-mile, one-hour, 28-minute trip back to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

The team will get to put January to bed in their own beds.

They'll welcome the rest, as they start February with five of their first six games at home, although they’ll have to play Memphis (9-6), Philadelphia (11-5), Phoenix (6-9), Indiana (11-4), and Miami (11-5) and travel to Orlando (11-4) -- a combined 59-29 (a .670 winning percentage).

The homestand should give Hawks players and coaches enough time to locate their lost luggage, pack it up and get ready to head back out on the road.