The Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers faced off in a wild, close-fought contest in mid-November and, three months later, the rematch arrives on Tuesday evening. Of course, a lot has transpired on both sides since that night at Staples Center but, with LeBron James leading his new team to State Farm Arena for the first time, there will be plenty of attention paid to the festivities.
Los Angeles escaped with a one-point win in that first battle and, in short, the Lakers are expected (at least by Las Vegas) to pick up another win this time. The Hawks enter this contest as five-point underdogs after three consecutive home losses and, while the team is generally in a better place than they were in November, Atlanta is scuffling at the moment.
As you may expect, slowing James will be of great importance to the Hawks, and Lloyd Pierce’s team has an unsightly 124.7 defensive rating during this losing streak. If Pierce intends to keep the same starting lineup, Taurean Prince would likely have the first crack at defending James, with DeAndre’ Bembry serving as another option and the potential (at least in my heart) of a specialized role for Justin Anderson as a stopper in reserve duty.
Offensively, this is a favorable match-up for the Hawks, as the Lakers have struggled mightily on that end in recent days. Los Angeles still boasts a league-average defense over the course of the full season but it will be interesting to see which defensive unit shows up for the visitors, particularly as Atlanta is playing well offensively at the moment.
In terms of roster availability, the Hawks will begin their post-Jeremy Lin journey on Tuesday, as the veteran guard parted ways with the organization (via buyout) earlier this week. His departure leaves Atlanta with only Trae Young in terms of healthy point guards on the regular roster, with two-way guard Jaylen Adams (who is listed as questionable against Los Angeles) as the other option at the position.
For this particular game, the Hawks could lean on Bembry, Kent Bazemore and Kevin Huerter as primary ball-handlers when Young leaves the floor but, to say the least, it isn’t an ideal situation. The Lakers won’t be at full strength, either, with both Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Josh Hart (knee) out of the lineup for the visitors.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest from State Farm Arena.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 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)