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Preview: Hawks aim to stay hot in Memphis

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Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Update: The Grizzlies will be without Jaren Jackson Jr., Jontay Porter, Killian Tillie, Xavier Tillman, Justise Winslow and now De’Anthony Melton, who was ruled out on Saturday afternoon because of NBA health and safety protocols.


The Atlanta Hawks put on quite a show on Wednesday evening, scoring 111 points in the first three quarters and zooming to a lopsided victory over the Chicago Bulls. After a practice on Thursday and a break for travel on Christmas, Trae Young and the Hawks return to Memphis for a match-up against the Grizzlies on Saturday evening.

Atlanta and Memphis faced off twice in the preseason, splitting the results on the scoreboard, and these two teams are quite familiar with one another. As such, it will be interesting to see how both squads adjust with such a short turnaround and only one game for each side since the Hawks returned home at the conclusion of the preseason.

While the Hawks were explosive offensively in the opener, Memphis brings a different challenge on both ends, operating at a higher level than Chicago presented. One example is the overall play of Ja Morant, with the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year erupting for 44 points and nine assists in the Grizzlies’ first game of the regular season.

Still, the Grizzlies are not at full strength just yet, with Jaren Jackson Jr. remaining sidelined, and Memphis struggles against San Antonio. The Grizzlies allowed more than 1.2 points per possession to the Spurs at FedEx Forum and, especially when taking into account Atlanta’s talent level, that is encouraging for the visitors.

From an injury standpoint, the Hawks will continue to operate without Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okongwu and Tony Snell, with all three players awaiting re-evaluation in the near future. Rajon Rondo also remains out as a result of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but there are other injury concerns for Lloyd Pierce and his staff.

After missing the opener, Clint Capela (left Achilles soreness) is listed as doubtful, and he is joined with that distinction by Danilo Gallinari (left foot contusion). If both frontcourt players miss this game, Atlanta will be very short-handed, with a potential uptick in deployment for players like Solomon Hill and Bruno Fernando alongside John Collins. Brandon Goodwin (right elbow sprain) is also questionable to play, which is even more important to note in the absence of Rondo.

As of Friday evening, the Hawks are listed as 1-point underdogs in Memphis, which is a shift — potentially as a result of the busy injury report — from the opening line. Still, this is viewed as a virtual toss-up, and Atlanta has a chance to improve to 2-0 if they can replicate the offensive showing they put forth on Wednesday.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest, with a game thread to arrive shortly before tip-off.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 26, 5:00 pm ET

Location: FedEx Forum

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV

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

Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)