After a woeful stretch of basketball, the Atlanta Hawks have a bit of positive momentum going. The team recovered from a 20-point halftime deficit on the way to a wild victory in Milwaukee on Friday and, after three days off, Mike Budenholzer’s team is back on the court on Tuesday evening. The opponent this time around is the Orlando Magic and the Hawks should be in good position to form a winning streak for the first time in a while.
The visiting Magic have lost three straight games by a combined 59 points and, in short, Orlando isn’t playing very well. It should be noted that the team had won three straight games prior to this dip, but the Magic have struggled mightily on offense throughout the season. Orlando is much better (12th in the NBA) on the defensive end, but the Magic, much like the Hawks, are heavily reliant on high-end defense to create victories and Frank Vogel’s team has not been able to consistently play at an elite level.
On the injury front, Kent Bazemore is listed as probable for the Hawks in this game, and his return would give Atlanta a full complement of wing options. It will be interesting to see what the rotation looks like if he is able to play given the strong performance against Milwaukee and, in the case of Bazemore, perhaps some time off (even for injury) could jump-start what has been an ugly season to this point.
In terms of match-ups to watch, the Magic do not boast a “go-to” threat that is particularly frightening. Evan Fournier is perhaps Orlando’s most dynamic offensive threat, but the Hawks boast sharp advantages at a few spots. The face-off between Paul Millsap and Serge Ibaka at the 4 is probably the signature battle of the night, but Millsap has the advantage on paper and both teams will likely mix and match throughout the evening.
The Hawks are installed as 8-point favorites in this game and, frankly, it is one that the team needs to win at home given the situation. What happens on the floor, though, is always a mystery and Atlanta will need to play well in order to ensure victory.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, December 13, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM