December was generally kind to the Atlanta Hawks but, after a year-ending loss to the Pacers, the team floundered down the stretch in a defeat in Washington to open 2019. On Friday evening, the Hawks will have the opportunity to avoid a winless road trip but, in short, the sledding will be difficult on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Atlanta enters this particular contest as a 14-point (!) underdog (the largest point spread involving the Hawks this season) and, while that may seem lofty, the reality is that Milwaukee is playing great basketball. Under the direction of former Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks are sitting with a 26-10 record and they are led by an MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee and Atlanta have not faced off yet this season, leaving some mystery with regard to how the game might play out on Friday. Still, the biggest task for the Hawks will be dealing with Antetokounmpo, and Atlanta’s short-handed rotation will be pushed to the test against the NBA’s best offense.
From an injury standpoint, Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince remain sidelined for the visitors. For the first time in a while, though, the rest of the injury report is clean, indicating that the Hawks will have their full complement of big men available in a situation that demands versatility on both ends.
On paper, this is one of the most difficult match-ups of the season for the Hawks and it comes at the end of a road trip. That isn’t the best recipe for an upset but, on the bright side, Lloyd Pierce’s team has provided reason for optimism in recent days and this should be an entertaining match-up in prime time.
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Game Date/Time: Friday, Jan. 4, 8:30 pm ET
Location: Fiserv Forum
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)