The Atlanta Hawks continue their preseason schedule on Saturday with a trip to Memphis to face the Grizzlies. Saturday's game is the first of three straight road games for the Hawks who defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 93-87 in their exhibition opener.
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Trying to track anything of note in the NBA's preseason, particularly in the early going, is often a failed exercise. For the Hawks, the most important element is getting their roster healthy and back in the lineup. Atlanta will be without Al Horford, Kent Bazemore and Pero Antic on Saturday but will get Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll back in the lineup. Korver was away from the team due to the birth of his second child. Carroll tweaked an ankle in practice and was held out of the opener for precautionary reasons.
By all accounts, the Hawks looked pretty good in their preseason opening win over the Pelicans. Atlanta grabbed an early lead and was able to hold on late while going deep into the bench. Head Coach Mike Budenholzer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that he felt like his players were playing instinctively and are further along with the game plan than at the same time last season.
"The most tangible thing that people can see on the court is how they play," Budenholzer said. "They are playing instinctively. The ball is moving. They are doing things. We want to create a way to play and then they make plans within that."
There is a good reason for that as Atlanta returned 12 players from last season's roster. The game plan for the most part is in place and now its just about getting healthy and getting the few new players acclimated to the rest of the roster.
Memphis comes into Saturday's game having lost the rare preseason back-to-back. The Grizzlies fell to Milwaukee 86-83 on Wednesday and followed that up with a 113-93 loss to the Rockets on Thursday. Memphis is a veteran team and with a core of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley back again its most important for them to get to the regular season healthy with the rotation intact.
The Grizzlies do have a pair of rookies worth keeping an eye on in Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes. Adams hasn't shot the ball well in the first two games but got to the free throw line eight times and finished with 11 points in the loss to the Rockets. Stokes is a hard working inside player out of Tennessee and added 12 points and five rebounds. Both could be rotation players off the bench for the Grizzlies at some point this season. The bench didn't play well in either of the first two preseason games but will get a boost once new addition Vince Carter gets into the lineup.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, October 11, 8 p.m. ET
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Radio: 929 ESPN Memphis, NBA League Pass Audio