Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic was brutal in a number of ways for the Atlanta Hawks. Playing on the road, Mike Budenholzer’s team had every opportunity to emerge victorious but, in the end, it took 53 minutes of clock time to find a winner and it wasn’t a favorable result for the visitors.
Less than 72 hours later, though, the same two teams will take the floor in a different venue, as Philips Arena plays host to the rematch. It should be noted that the Magic actually participated in a real, live NBA game on Friday and, as such, will be on the second game of a back-to-back set. That could certainly give the Hawks an edge in this spot, especially when combined with the friendly confines of home.
In terms of match-ups, Atlanta had all kinds of trouble dealing with the combination of Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic in the first meeting. Vucevic’s success has much to do with the Hawks and a lack of relative size and depth up front right now, with Gordon operating as the best player on the court for both teams. It looks as if Fournier and Gordon will both be absent from the proceedings as a result of injury, though, and the Hawks catch a break in that regard.
How will Budenholzer handle the frontcourt? Miles Plumlee has been starting at center since Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins went down but, to begin the second half in Orlando, Tyler Cavanaugh got the nod. Regardless, both players (along with Ersan Ilyasova and Luke Babbitt) will be called upon for big minutes but playing to something approaching a draw in the frontcourt would be significant.
There is plenty of reason to think that the Hawks are capable of evening the score at home here and it would certainly help to remove the sour taste of Wednesday. Still, Atlanta has arguably played better basketball away from home this season and it will be a challenge in some ways. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, December 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta)