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Preview: Hawks venture to Oklahoma City for yearly visit

Atlanta is on the road again on the first evening of a back-to-back.

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

One week has passed since the Atlanta Hawks ventured away from Philips Arena and it’s time for another trip. The team is in Oklahoma City on Friday evening to take on the Thunder and, if that seems like a tall task, that’s because it is.

To be fair, the Thunder have struggled mightily when compared to expectations this season, though those issues still manifest in a 16-15 record and a positive net rating. To put it bluntly, Oklahoma City holds a significant talent advantage over the Hawks in this spot and, even if some of that can be bridged by Atlanta’s depth, it could be an uphill battle for the road team if the Thunder perform even reasonably well offensively.

On paper, the match-up to highlight would be Dennis Schröder against reigning MVP Russell Westbrook but the Hawks may be without their leading scorer in this match-up. Atlanta announced on Thursday that Schröder was questionable with a left ankle injury and, if he is unable to go, the Hawks would likely deploy a steady diet of Isaiah Taylor and Malcolm Delaney. Though that would improve the defensive output based on recent track record, being without Schröder’s offensive punch could pose issues and his status will be monitored throughout the day.

Elsewhere, the Hawks have interesting decisions to make with how to handle Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and even Steven Adams in this game. It is the first night of a back-to-back set but extended minutes from John Collins (especially in a world without Schröder) may be needed offensively.

At this early hour, the good folks in Las Vegas have installed the Thunder as 10.5-point favorites, though that could be impacted if Schröder is unable to play. Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Friday, December 22, 8:00 p.m. ET

Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta)