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Preview: Hawks host Magic in preseason opener

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Basketball is back.

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Exactly nine months after the team last took the court in a competitive environment, the Atlanta Hawks return to action on Friday evening at State Farm Arena. Granted, the Dec. 11 clash against the Orlando Magic serves as the team’s preseason opener, rather than a game that “counts” in the standings, but Lloyd Pierce’s team is itching to face an external opponent and the big day arrives on Friday.

The Hawks have been intentionally coy about the way the team will approach the preseason from a rotational perspective, but Pierce did indicate earlier this week that the Hawks will be without Onyeka Okongwu, Kris Dunn and Tony Snell — all of whom are recovering from injury — for the opener. From there, Atlanta released an official injury report on Thursday evening, and it included more names to keep an eye on before tip-off. Cam Reddish (right ankle soreness) is listed as probable, Clint Capela (right ankle soreness) is listed as questionable, and Rajon Rondo (right knee soreness) is listed as doubtful. Finally, Snell is officially listed as “not with team” and he is self-isolating due to exposure to someone with COVID-19, though it is important to note he has not tested positive.

There are many storylines to monitor in the preseason, from how the established standouts (Trae Young, John Collins, etc.) fare to how the new acquisitions (Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Capela, etc.) look in a Hawks uniform. In addition, Pierce indicated this week that he expects even the top players to see the floor for 24 minutes or less in the opener. It would be wise not to overrate takeaways, at least from a deployment perspective, from the team’s first foray on Friday, but the Magic are also a team that the Hawks must overtake in the pecking order to achieve their 2021 playoff goals.

On the Orlando side, James Ennis is doubtful to play, with Mo Bamba, Terrence Ross, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jonathan Isaac ruled out in advance of Friday’s tilt. For the degenerates among us, the Hawks are favored by sports betting outlets, though it is fair to say that the preseason — and especially the preseason opener — is difficult to handicap.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Friday, Dec. 11, 7:00 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)