Update: The Hawks announced Saturday morning that Collins is, indeed, available to play.
The Atlanta Hawks will square off against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday evening, as the team attempts to stop the bleeding associated with a six-game losing streak. However, the Hawks may have a bit of extra juice on the final night of a four-game road trip, as second-year big man John Collins appears likely to make his season debut.
The Hawks announced on Friday afternoon that Collins has been upgraded to probable for the game in Indiana, representing a large step forward in his progress from the ankle injury that has cost him the entire season to this point. Collins was briefly upgraded to doubtful in advance of Thursday’s game in Denver (and he has been traveling on the entire road trip), but the former Wake Forest star now seems to be fully on track for a return in this spot.
In addition, the Hawks will have Dewayne Dedmon available against the Pacers after he missed the previous three games due to the birth of his child. Taurean Prince, however, does not appear likely to suit up, as Atlanta lists the starting small forward as doubtful with right Achilles pain that also kept him out of the lineup against the Nuggets.
The headliner, though, is the likely return of Collins, as the talented big man should provide a jolt of athleticism and force that the Hawks have sorely lacked in the early going of the season. It remains to be seen as to whether Lloyd Pierce will deploy him in the starting lineup or whether there will be a minutes restriction as he rounds into form.
Still, the mere presence of Collins (for the first time since a preseason game on Oct. 5) makes Atlanta a more dangerous team on a nightly basis and that should provide some level of optimism moving forward.