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Dwight Howard to miss Thunder game with back issue

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The Hawks will be unexpectedly short handed on Monday.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday evening, the Atlanta Hawks updated the injury report in advance of the team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and, surprisingly, big man Dwight Howard was listed as questionable. Now, it is confirmed that Howard will not be available when the two teams take the floor, as the Hawks announced his absence as a result of “back tightness”.

This marks just the second absence of the season for the veteran center and the first sign of real injury trouble. Howard has a history of back issues dating back to his days in Orlando and, while seemingly innocuous in this case, the Hawks are taking the safe route in approaching the situation with caution.

In Howard’s stead, the Hawks will likely deploy Mike Muscala for extended minutes, with the possibility of playing time for Kris Humphries, Mike Scott and even rookie Taurean Prince. Beyond that, the team employed a small-ball approach against Charlotte, and while that would be more difficult against a big, physical team in Oklahoma City, it is also an option.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.