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Preview: Hawks host Hornets for Saturday night clash

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The first of a back-to-back.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the chatter around the trade deadline in the past, the Atlanta Hawks have 28 games remaining in the 2018-19 season. For a rebuilding club, that represents an opportunity to evaluate players, concepts, lineups and much more for the future and the “stretch run” continues on Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets.

Atlanta will also be in action on Sunday evening at State Farm Arena but, as you may expect, the front end of a back-to-back is often more forgiving than the back end. This time around, though, the Hawks face the more difficult opponent in the opener, with the Hornets sporting a 26-28 record upon arrival.

Charlotte is riding a two-game losing streak, however, and the Hawks also dropped their last contest in rather lopsided fashion against the Raptors on Thursday. Still, the Hornets are seen (at least by Las Vegas) as 2.5-point favorites to capture victory even on the road, and that largely stems from the presence of Kemba Walker.

The All-Star point guard will be opposed by Trae Young in the match-up of the night and, to put it plainly, Walker has been fantastic this season. He is averaging 24.8 points, 5.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game with solid efficiency (56 percent true shooting) and Atlanta’s charge will be to contain Charlotte’s offensive engine throughout the night.

On the injury front, the Hawks have a rather clean bill of health, with only Miles Plumlee unavailable for this game. Two-way players Jaylen Adams and Alex Poythress headed back to Erie on Friday but Lloyd Pierce’s team will still have its regular rotation available, even after deals that saw Tyler Dorsey and Daniel Hamilton move elsewhere.

For the Hornets, Tony Parker (back strain) is out for Saturday’s contest and, considering he operates as the team’s backup point guard, that might seem relatively insignificant. Parker is a key cog for Charlotte, though, and the Hornets are actually win-less (0-8) on the season when he does not play. Rookie Devonte Graham, who was drafted with the No. 34 pick acquired by Charlotte from Atlanta on draft night, is in line to act as Charlotte’s backup to Walker.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest but, in short, it will be interesting to see if the Hawks can improve enough on their recent defensive woes to secure an upset victory.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, Feb. 9, 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)