Less than six weeks ago, the Atlanta Hawks were annihilated by the Houston Rockets. While there were rational explanations ranging from a brutal schedule to a short-handed roster, the Rockets led by as many as 58 (yes, 58) points and James Harden scored 60 points in less than 31 minutes of on-court time. With that as the backdrop, it seems safe to project a more competitive environment for the rematch on Wednesday evening in Atlanta, though the Rockets still represent a significant challenge for the Hawks.
Unlike the first meeting, the Hawks will have John Collins and Kevin Huerter in the lineup. That, of course, helps Atlanta’s chances and Lloyd Pierce’s team has performed notably better in recent days, including in a close-fought loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
On the injury front, Jabari Parker will miss Wednesday’s game (and several others) after the Hawks announced on Tuesday that he underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right shoulder. Bruno Fernando (personal reasons) will also miss the game for Atlanta, while Houston will be without Russell Westbrook (rest) on the first night of a back-to-back for the Rockets.
As of Wednesday morning, the Hawks are eight-point home underdogs to the Rockets, which lands in a similar position to what Atlanta faced against Denver. It will be intriguing to see if the Hawks can handle Harden defensively given what transpired in the first meeting but, if Atlanta is able to keep the former MVP in check, there is reason to believe the Hawks can keep things interesting.
Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 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