In a bizarre (and almost impressive) feat, the Atlanta Hawks won three quarters of their season opener against the New York Knicks, but still fell by a 19-point final margin. While that second quarter is the stuff of legend in a not-so-great way, the Hawks do have the ability to correct their on-court issues in short order, as the team travels to Tennessee to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday evening.
Much like the opener, this is a spot in which there is reason to believe the Hawks can pull off a (mild) upset on the road, as the Grizzlies did not perform well in their Wednesday opener. Memphis does have the potent veteran duo of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol but, elsewhere, this is not a roster that is overflowing with top-end talent at the moment, which should provide optimism for the visiting team.
In terms of match-ups, the battle between Conley and Trae Young is absolutely one to monitor. Young performed better than the final box score would suggest in his NBA debut but, in short, Conley provides him with a stiff test in an individual sense and it will be interesting to see how Young responds with 48 minutes of regular season experience under his belt.
Beyond that, Hawks fans will get a non-Summer League look at rookie Jaren Jackson Jr., who was selected by the Grizzlies with the No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft. Unfortunately, it appears as if Hawks rookie big man Omari Spellman may not be available in this spot, as he is listed as doubtful with an ankle sprain. If that absence does transpire, Lloyd Pierce will be without a trio of big man (Spellman, John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon), leaving limited options to work with against the Grizzlies.
The good folks in Las Vegas project the Grizzlies as 7.5-point favorites over the Hawks here and, as we will likely say all season, the end result on the scoreboard isn’t always the most important thing during a rebuild. There is plenty of intrigue in the way that Pierce handles the rotation and how young players fare in their second action but, if nothing else, we’ll be here to navigate the waters.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Friday, Oct. 19, 8:00 pm ET
Location: FedEx Forum
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)