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Preview: Hawks host Celtics in Saturday night showdown

Lloyd Pierce’s team returns to the floor after a three-day break.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The break is nearly over for the Atlanta Hawks. Lloyd Pierce’s team triumphed over the Oklahoma City Thunder in spectacular fashion on Tuesday evening and, on the heels of that victory, the squad had the opportunity to rest for a three-day period. Everything balances out in the world of NBA schedule making, meaning there is pain in the future with a seven-game road trip looming, but the Hawks should be fresh when the Boston Celtics arrive at State Farm Arena on Saturday evening.

In the two previous meetings between the two teams, the Hawks struggled, losing by 18 and 21 points. That isn’t an overwhelming surprise given the perceived gap between the two teams but, in the recent past, Boston hasn’t exactly been lights-out and the Celtics arrive on the second night of a back-to-back after hosting the Grizzlies on Friday.

With all of that in mind, the Hawks opened as 8.5-point underdogs but certainly with a puncher’s chance at an upset win. Atlanta’s offensive explosion against Oklahoma City Thunder shouldn’t be seen as a new baseline but it does provide a window of optimism into how the Hawks are capable of functioning and, even if the home team can avoid the rust sometimes associated with a long lay-off, there should be a competitive game on the horizon.

Injury-wise, Boston is virtually at full strength and, despite some recent “struggles” from their core group, the Celtics have impressive talent headlined by Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum. However, Atlanta may have a few challenges ahead on that front.

The Hawks are still operating without Kent Bazemore and Miles Plumlee, and things could get dicey if the early rumblings go the wrong way. On the positive side, Dewayne Dedmon (left ankle sprain) is seemingly on track to return after a brief absence, as he is listed as probable. However, John Collins (bronchitis-type symptoms) and Trae Young (flu-like symptoms) are both listed as questionable and, if either (or both) was unavailable, Atlanta’s offense would have a tall task against a top-five defense.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest from State Farm Arena.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 pm ET

Location: State Farm Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)