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Paul Millsap to miss Friday’s game in Cleveland

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The Hawks will be without their best player in a very difficult match-up.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

While the focus for the Atlanta Hawks is on a marquee Thursday evening match-up against the Boston Celtics, the team will be without its best player on Friday on the second night of a back-to-back. Paul Millsap, who recently returned from an extended absence with a knee injury, will miss Friday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers as a precaution and to provide further rest.

This isn’t a surprise given Millsap’s incredible value to the team when and if the Hawks are able to make the playoffs, but it provides an uphill battle in terms of winning in Cleveland. To be fair, Atlanta was always going to be an underdog against LeBron James and company on the road and, with that, it makes sense to prioritize the more “winnable” match-up. Without Millsap against the reigning champs, however, Atlanta’s task becomes exponentially more difficult.

As of pregame on Thursday, Budenholzer and his staff were undecided as to whether Millsap would join the starting lineup against the Celtics but we do know that he won’t be available against Cleveland. Stay tuned.