After a brief respite, the Atlanta Hawks will enter Friday night’s game attempting to right the ship (again) after a loss. The team seemingly ran out of gas (at least according to its head coach) in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets but, in this particular spot, the Hawks will be rested and ready to face off with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In addition to the uphill battle for the Hawks in facing a playoff-caliber team on the road, this also marks the first regular season match-up between Atlanta and former point guard Dennis Schröder. The 25-year-old was, of course, dealt to Oklahoma City over the summer in a deal that netted the Hawks a first round pick and future salary cap flexibility, but Schröder has (predictably) upped his defensive effort level in his new home and is playing relatively well as a result.
In recent days, Schröder has been pushed into service in an off-ball role, with the Thunder operating short-handed on the perimeter and Westbrook largely at the helm of the offense. That may continue here, as Oklahoma City will be without Andre Roberson, Hamidou Diallo and Terrance Ferguson due to injury concerns.
The other major story line is the homecoming of Trae Young to the state of Oklahoma and, while some of that narrative was covered when the Hawks played a preseason tilt in Tulsa, it should be interesting to see how the rookie point guard fares here. On one hand, he isn’t likely to face a difficult individual match-up offensively, as neither Westbrook nor Schröder is a stopper on that end and Oklahoma City doesn’t have their normal ace (Roberson) in the hole in that regard.
In general, however, the Hawks may have a difficult time scoring in this match-up, as the Thunder enter with the NBA’s best defensive rating. To make things potentially more difficult, Jeremy Lin is listed as questionable for this tilt with the ankle injury that sidelined him on Wednesday and, if the veteran guard is unable to play, Atlanta could be challenged to create quality offense when Young leaves the floor.
At the time of this post, the Hawks are 13-point underdogs in this spot, outlining a situation in which it would be a surprise if the visiting team was able to pull off the upset. Still, the playing field can be leveled in a situation where the opponent does not boast a dynamic offense (OKC enters 20th in the league in offensive rating) and Lloyd Pierce’s squad may find itself in a bit of a rock fight on Friday evening.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Friday, Nov. 30, 8:00 pm ET
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)