When Kent Bazemore was added to the Atlanta Hawks injury report with "right knee stiffness" on Thursday afternoon, it was likely seen by many as an "oh by the way" move from the team. Unfortunately, it was a precursor of things to come, as Mike Budenholzer announced pregame that Budenholzer would miss the game against the Toronto Raptors as a result of the ailment.
Budenholzer indicated that it was stiffness and nothing more, adding that "hopefully this is a short term, and we will just continue to watch in the next day or two." It is never ideal to see this type of move late in the season, however, especially with no indication that it is a pure "rest" decision as the team has Friday off before facing the Boston Celtics on Saturday in Atlanta.
The team will be choosing between Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. to replace Bazemore in the starting lineup, though Budenholzer declined to announce that decision during his media availability. Regardless, the absence of Bazemore will mean an uptick in playing time for both backup wing options, with potential impact to the court deployment of players like Dennis Schröder, Mike Scott or even Kirk Hinrich. Lastly, the Hawks will be down a player that could have been asked to guard DeMar DeRozan (or Kyle Lowry), leaving the team in a tough spot defensively.