Update: Thabo Sefolosha is also listed as OUT for Wednesday’s game with a mild left knee sprain.
When Dwight Howard left Tuesday’s win over the Miami Heat with a quad contusion, the immediate focus shifted toward Wednesday night and the second half of the back-to-back set against the Milwaukee Bucks. Prior to the game, Howard was listed as questionable with the injury, but just prior to tip-off, the Atlanta Hawks declared that Howard would, indeed, miss his first game of the season.
The 6-foot-11 big man has helped to lead the Hawks to an 8-2 record while appearing in all 10 contests and Howard has exceeded any rational expectation. He is averaging 14.8 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game (23.54 PER), but more than that, Howard has integrated well with Budenholzer’s scheme and his impact on the glass has been noticeable from the jump.
In Howard’s stead, the Hawks will deploy a rotation featuring Mike Muscala (who will start at center), Kris Humphries and, potentially, Ryan Kelly alongside Paul Millsap, with the possibility of small-ball lineups featuring Thabo Sefolosha or, in a pinch, Taurean Prince playing power forward. It will be very interesting to see what buttons are pressed by Budenholzer in this game, but aside from Wednesday, Howard’s recovery will hopefully be swift in order to return healthy for the team’s next game on Friday in Charlotte.