The Atlanta Hawks finish the 2016-2017 regular season with a back-to-back and the first of those contests takes place at Philips Arena on Tuesday evening. The Charlotte Hornets arrive as the Hawks host their final home game of the season and, given that the visitors are 3-0 against Atlanta this season, it could be a treacherous spot for the Hawks.
However, Charlotte’s best player, point guard Kemba Walker, will miss the game after being shut down for the remainder of the campaign.
#Hornets PG Kemba Walker out final 2 games of year as precaution - left knee soreness.#BuzzCity eliminated from playoff race on Saturday.— Chris Kroeger (@Kroeger) April 10, 2017
It remains to be seen if the Hawks will be going “all out” in this particular contest but, with the ability to wrap up the No. 5 seed, it seems likely that Atlanta will be deploying anyone and everyone who is healthy enough to play. Without Walker, the Hornets are not as frightening of an opponent, but Charlotte is still well coached and reasonably talented. Beyond that, the Hawks have displayed the willingness to play down to the competition this season.
Thabo Sefolosha was upgraded to questionable on Atlanta’s injury report on Monday, joining Paul Millsap, Malcolm Delaney and Kent Bazemore with probable distinctions. On one hand, it seems silly to send Sefolosha out without 100 percent health but, on the other, the team would certainly like to get a glance at the veteran defensive wizard before the end of the campaign.
FiveThirtyEight assigns the Hawks with a 70 percent chance to claim victory and the smart folks in Las Vegas install the team as 8.5-point favorites in this spot. In short, this is a game that Atlanta should win and, if they do, Mike Budenholzer will be free and able to shut down his veterans in what would be a meaningless game for the team in Indiana on Wednesday.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 11, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM