Prior to the 2016-2017 season, the “smart money” probably would have been on the Atlanta Hawks avoiding a seven-game losing streak at any point during the campaign. By the middle of December, that would have been a losing venture, but the Hawks have the opportunity to snap that current skid on Wednesday evening, as the Miami Heat come to town for a Southeast Division battle.
The Heat, who suffered an 11-point loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday, enter Philips Arena on a back-to-back and that is probably a good thing for the Hawks. Atlanta is currently listed as an 8-point favorite by the good folks in Las Vegas and that is telling, considering how the Hawks have played in recent days.
To be fair, Mike Budenholzer’s team does have Paul Millsap back for this game and the effort on Monday against a good Oklahoma City team was at least somewhat encouraging. However, Kent Bazemore will reportedly be absent from the proceedings as a result of a knee issue, leaving Atlanta at less than full strength.
On the “bright” side, the Heat are also playing without significant pieces, as Miami is down several wings, including Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters. This leaves Erik Spoelstra’s team in a spot where the roster isn’t nearly playoff-caliber and, with that, the Hawks should be able to withstand the absence of Bazemore with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Taurean Prince seeing more playing time. Taking anything for granted at this stage, though, would be an aggressive decision, and the Hawks simply need to take care of business against an inferior opponent that also faces less than ideal circumstances.
Dwight Howard against Hassan Whiteside and Dennis Schröder against Goran Dragic should be interesting match-ups to watch, but execution on the offensive end will be paramount for Atlanta against a quality defensive opponent. The Atlanta Hawks need a win and, if they can match their level of play from Monday, that is probably in the cards.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, December 7, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM