Update: James Harden has been upgraded to probable, per Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. Iman Shumpert is on track to play.
James Harden probable to play for Rockets vs. Hawks. Shumpert good to go.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 25, 2019
The Atlanta Hawks secured their first post-break victory on Saturday night, outlasting the Phoenix Suns in an intriguing game. Following a day off for travel on Sunday, Trae Young, John Collins and company will return to action on Monday evening with a step up in competition, as the Hawks take on the Houston Rockets.
Atlanta and Houston have not faced off yet this season and, in some ways, there is baked-in uncertainty as a result. However, injuries make things even more shaky in this spot, with both teams looking down the barrel of potential absences.
For the Rockets, James Harden (cervical strain) and Iman Shumpert (sore right knee) are listed as questionable and, quite obviously, it would be significant if one of the league’s best players was unable to play. Houston did manage to upset Golden State over the weekend without Harden but, in general, it is safe to say the Rockets would be a different/lesser team if injury keeps Harden away.
On the Hawks side, there are several considerations. Taurean Prince (personal reasons) joins Miles Plumlee (left knee) on the shelf for this game and the Hawks could also be without Kevin Huerter (left ankle sprain) in this contest. The rookie wing is listed as questionable after missing the last two games and, for good measure, DeAndre’ Bembry (left quad contusion) is also on the injury report as probable.
Prince’s absence creates an obvious void but, if Huerter is able to play, Atlanta’s rotation could be similar to what it was over the weekend, with Vince Carter and/or Justin Anderson receiving playing time. If Huerter isn’t able to return, the Hawks would be (very) short-handed, to the point where Anderson, or even 10-day wing Jordan Sibert, could be in line for deployment.
Because of the unknown with regard to Harden’s availability, the good folks in Las Vegas waited to post a point spread until Monday but, as of late morning, Houston is favored by double figures. In short, this is a game the Hawks will not be expected to win if Harden plays, as Houston is the better team that would also be playing at home. If he misses, however, the Rockets could be vulnerable, even with the caveat that Chris Paul looks better at this point in the campaign than he did before the All-Star break.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Monday, Feb. 25, 8:00 pm ET
Location: Toyota Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)