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Preview: Hawks welcome Pacers to complete back-to-back

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Update: Cam Reddish (right wrist sprain), John Collins and Jabari Parker have been ruled out for Saturday’s game.

The Atlanta Hawks began their 2020 journey with a close-fought loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday evening. Though the final result wasn’t favorable in the standings, the Hawks flashed some intriguing signs and, less than 24 hours later, Atlanta will aim to build on the upward trajectory with a home match-up against the Indiana Pacers.

As of Saturday morning, the status of John Collins is perhaps the most prominent nugget in advance of tip-off. The third-year big man suffered what the team described as a “back contusion” on Friday, and Collins missed the majority of the second half as a result. Atlanta’s formal injury report is not due until Saturday afternoon and, as such, there isn’t definitive word on Collins’ status, though it would be a mild surprise if the 22-year-old was able to play so quickly after suffering the injury.

From a point spread perspective, the Hawks are currently seven-point home underdogs to the Pacers, even as Indiana has lost three of the last four games. The visitors do have a 22-13 overall record to fall back on but, from an injury perspective, the Pacers won’t be at full strength. Victor Oladipo remains out after missing the entire 2019-20 season to this point but, in a more timely update, local Atlanta product Malcolm Brogdon will not play as a result of a back ailment.

It will be interesting to see how the Hawks approach Saturday’s game, particularly if Collins is unable to play. Atlanta deployed a (much) smaller lineup than usual against the Celtics but, against a “twin tower” look with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis for Indiana, that likely isn’t an option on a full-time basis. That could lead to increased playing time for Alex Len (who was the primary backup center to Collins on Friday), Bruno Fernando, Vince Carter (who did not appear on Friday) and even Damian Jones.

Ultimately, this is not a spot in which the Hawks are “expected” to win. With that said, Indiana certainly isn’t an unbeatable foe and Atlanta could effectively capitalize on the strides made on Friday by following that showing up with a home victory.

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: Saturday, Jan. 4, 7:30 pm ET

Location: State Farm Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

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

Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass