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Preview: Hawks square off with Hornets to begin three-game trip

Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: Allen Crabbe (right knee soreness) is now probable after being listed as questionable for today’s game in Charlotte. De’Andre Hunter (dislocated right index finger) is now questionable after being listed as doubtful.

The Atlanta Hawks enjoyed a period of rest this week, with three full days off after a home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Things pick up again on Sunday evening, however, as Lloyd Pierce’s team travels to Charlotte to face the Hornets in a matinee tilt. Though Atlanta’s overall schedule does ease after a brutal start, the Hawks face three road games in four nights beginning on Sunday and, with that as the backdrop, it would be encouraging for the visitors to pick up a victory.

On paper, this is a relatively favorable match-up for Atlanta, even in an unfriendly venue. The Hawks and Hornets square off four times each season but, in a bit of a scheduling quirk, this is the first battle between the two teams this season. Charlotte enters the game with a sub-.500 record and, while they’ve actually exceeded expectations to this point, this isn’t a match-up in which the Hawks have a decisive talent disadvantage. In fact, Atlanta is just a 2.5-point road underdog, further illustrating the “winnable” nature of this contest.

Though there is plenty of intrigue to this contest, the headline match-up arrives at the lead guard spot. Trae Young has been magnificent this season, averaging 28.7 points and 8.4 assists per game with a 60.5 percent true shooting, and he is the key to everything for Atlanta’s offense. On the other side, second-year guard Devonte Graham — who was technically “drafted” by the Hawks with the No. 34 overall pick in 2018 — has been huge for Charlotte, averaging 19.1 points and 7.8 assists per game while shooting a blistering 42.9 percent from three-point distance.

From an injury standpoint, the Hawks will likely be without De’Andre Hunter (dislocated right finger) for the second straight game. The No. 4 overall pick missed Wednesday’s contest with the same injury and, though Hunter has not been ruled out, he is officially listed as doubtful. Allen Crabbe (right knee soreness) is officially questionable to play.

Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 8, 5:00 pm ET

Location: Spectrum Center

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

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

Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass