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Thunder vs. Hawks preview: Can Atlanta stop the bleeding against Oklahoma City?

Russell Westbrook is in town and he is on a tear.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, it is common knowledge that the Atlanta Hawks aren’t playing very well, but things don’t get easier on Monday night. Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in town for a clash at Philips Arena and the visitors enter the game in the midst of a five-game winning streak. In short, this is a challenge for Mike Budenholzer’s team.

As of Monday afternoon, no update has been provided in terms of Paul Millsap’s availability, as he will be a game-time decision for this evening’s game. It is quite obvious to state that Atlanta’s fate could be directly tied to the availability of the team’s best player, and Millsap could be uniquely valuable in his defensive versatility when dealing with a player like Westbrook.

The Thunder’s winning streak has coincided with a preposterous streak of triple-doubles from Westbrook, and the guard (somehow) boasts a season-long average of a triple-double through more than a month of the campaign. Atlanta’s defensive scheme in trying to keep Westbrook in check will also be interesting, as Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore or even Thabo Sefolosha could be given assignments on that end of the floor during this contest.

In a somewhat surprising turn, the Hawks are actually Las Vegas favorites in this game as of the time of this post, and Atlanta should certainly be motivated to grab a victory. In addition, the Thunder are playing in the second game of a back-to-back and starting center Steven Adams exited Sunday’s game as a result of an ankle injury. The line could be volatile with regard to two key injuries, but what isn’t up for debate is how badly Atlanta needs a win in this spot.

Stay tuned.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Monday, December 5, 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Philips Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM