It has been a rough 7-day stretch for the Atlanta Hawks, but after two days off since collapsing against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, the team is set to host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. Atlanta is coming off back-to-back defeats, but unfortunately, that isn't the old potential setback for the team as they prepare for the Grizzlies.
On Friday afternoon, All-Star power forward Paul Millsap missed practice as a result of illness, and he is listed as "day-to-day", putting his status for Saturday night in serious jeopardy. To be blunt, Millsap is the team's most valuable player by a significant margin at this stage, and against the sizable Memphis front line (Zach Randolph, especially), his absence would leave a gaping hole, especially given the depth issues that have already thrust guys like Mike Scott and Gustavo Ayon into much bigger roles.
Memphis has also lost two straight games, but prior to those defeats, they were red-hot after the return of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies are 9-3 since Gasol returned to lineup in January, and since that point, they are sporting the league's best defense, allowing only 96.5 points per 100 possessions. At the moment, Memphis is sitting outside the top-8 in the Western Conference, but this is anything but your typical "lottery" team, and even at home, they present a significant challenge.
Still, the Hawks are very capable of upping the ante and grabbing a victory here, especially if Millsap can recover in time to be in the lineup. There were some encouraging signs in the loss to New Orleans (Jeff Teague's 13 assists, for one), and if the Atlanta team that appeared in the 1st half of that game can extend that showing for four quarters, this is a spot where the Hawks can bounce back in a significant way.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, February 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM
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