The Atlanta Hawks have won four of their last five games but the degree of difficulty is about to get ratcheted up significantly. When the Atlanta Hawks host the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday night they will do so without Al Horford who suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Thursday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and is out indefinitely.
Over their last five games the Hawks are averaging more than 120 points per contest. Their only loss coming at the hands of defending champ Miami in overtime. Horford has played a big part in that offensive explosion averaging over 22 points per game in his last five. Gustavo Ayon is the leading candidate to replace Horford in the starting lineup but the Hawks are going to miss Horford's all-around game and will need Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap to help pick up the slack.
Atlanta also has injury concerns at the small forward position. DeMarre Carroll suffered a thumb injury against the Cavs on Thursday. X-Rays were negative but he is listed as day-to-day and his status for Saturday's game is unknown. John Jenkins has already been declared out with a back injury and Cartier Martin is continuing to deal with an ankle injury. Martin was in uniform in Cleveland on Thursday but did not play. His return could give Atlanta a boost in the wake of Carroll's injury. We should know more about who will be available and who isn't following Saturday's shootaround.
The Charlotte Bobcats are coming off of an 89-85 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. This is the first of a five-game road trip for them. At 14-16 they are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference and are playing particularly good defense under new coach Steve Clifford. Charlotte is surrendering just 98.1 points per 100 possessions which is good for third in the league behind Indiana and Oklahoma City.
The Hawks took the first meeting between the two clubs back in November 103-94 in Charlotte. Horford led the way in that game with 24 points while Teague finished with 14 points and 12 assists. Josh McRoberts led the Bobcats with 19 points including five threes. Both teams will meet two more times this season.
Saturday's game is the start of a back-to-back situation for the Hawks. They will travel to Orlando for a game on Sunday before closing out 2013 in Boston on Tuesday.
Game date/time: Saturday, December 28, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 FM "The Game"
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