The regular season is (finally) here for the Atlanta Hawks. While the NBA tipped things off on Tuesday, Lloyd Pierce and company were forced to wait 48 additional hours, and the extended break of the off-season (and the preseason) is over.
The Detroit Pistons play host to the Hawks this time around and, right off the bat, it is worth noting the circumstances by which Atlanta arrives at Little Caesars Arena. On the Pistons side, All-Star forward Blake Griffin will watch this game from the sideline as a result of injury and, in addition, Detroit will be taking the floor on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Indiana on Wednesday.
That confluence of events sets up well for the Hawks, even in a visiting environment, and that is doubly true with the projected return of Kevin Huerter. After missing the entire preseason, the second-year wing is listed as probable and, before traveling to Detroit, Pierce indicated that Huerter was on track to play, with a 15-minute limit in his debut.
With the rest of the injury report relatively clean for the Hawks, Atlanta is at near-full strength in this spot, whereas the Pistons certainly are not. That leads to the Hawks being only 1-point underdogs (at the time of this post) in Detroit, essentially predicting a coin-flip opportunity to start the season on a high note.
In 2018-19, the road team actually swept the season series in this match-up, with the Hawks winning in Detroit in December and the Pistons taking both games in Atlanta. It is worth re-emphasizing the absence of Griffin but, in the same breath, it was Andre Drummond that truly gave the Hawks fits last season. The veteran center averaged 20.7 points, 15.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.7 steals per game in the three match-ups and, considering Atlanta’s question marks at center, that is a battle to monitor on Thursday.
There are story lines galore, ranging from the debut of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish (getting the start in place of Huerter) and Bruno Fernando to the “encore” for players like Trae Young and John Collins. Fun should be had by all, and the excitement in Atlanta is genuinely palpable.
Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, Oct. 24, 7:00 pm ET
Location: Little Caesars Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (FREE PREVIEW!)
Radio: V103.3 FM (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass (FREE PREVIEW!)