The Atlanta Hawks closed a four-game West Coast swing on a positive note, cruising past the Denver Nuggets by a comfortable margin on Monday evening. Following that win, the team (finally) returns home for the annual visit from the Los Angeles Clippers, and Doc Rivers' team will be short-handed for this particular match-up.
The Clippers will be without Blake Griffin, who is sidelined with some combination of a hand injury and a quad injury, and this is big news for Atlanta. The Hawks displayed flashes of their peak form against Denver, but this is a significant jump in opponent quality, with the likes of Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan taking the court at Philips Arena. Still, with Griffin (and his All-NBA pedigree) on the sideline, Atlanta will face the expectation of a victory in front of their home fans.
From a match-up standpoint, it will be interesting to see if Jeff Teague can play the aforementioned Paul to something of a "draw" on Wednesday. Teague put together one of his better nights in recent memory with a double-double against the Nuggets, but Paul is in the midst of yet another All-Star campaign, and Teague has struggled mightily with consistency throughout the year. In addition, containing the red-hot J.J. Redick will be an important task for the likes of Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha, especially with a likely emphasis on his shooting in the absence of Griffin.
The defensive end will be the focus of this particular contest, as the Clippers display a top-five offense in the NBA. Mike Budenholzer and his club will have the benefit of a travel day of "rest" and homecourt advantage, but even with Grififn out of the lineup (and Paul Millsap now facing a juicy match-up), it is a nice test for the Hawks against an upper-echelon team from the West. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, January 27, 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM