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The Hawks return from the All-Star break with an intriguing test against the Heat

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Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a while since the Atlanta Hawks took part in a fully sanctioned NBA basketball game, with the All-Star break arriving and most of the squad (sans Trae Young) enjoying several days off. Prior to the hiatus, the Hawks fell flat in Cleveland for what was a disappointing defeat but, in zooming out, Atlanta finished with a 7-9 record in the 16 games before the stoppage.

Admittedly, 7-9 may not seem like much but, given that the Hawks were a dismal 8-32 before that rush, that 16-game stretch represented marked improvement. After the break, though, expectations are a bit higher for Lloyd Pierce’s team.

The 25-game suspension to John Collins certainly had an effect on the team’s first-half record, and there were maladies up and down the roster that left things short-handed. The “new-look” Hawks are now here, however, and things get back underway with a home game against the Miami Heat on Thursday.

At the time of this post, there is still uncertainty with Clint Capela, as the newly acquired center missed his first few games after being acquired. Capela’s heel issue dates back to his time in Houston and, in addressing the injury in public media availability, both the player and team simply referred to his timetable as “after the All-Star break.”

With that out of the way, the Hawks still have a center upgrade in Dewayne Dedmon and, of course, the young core is in tact, headlined by Young, Collins, Kevin Huerter and a pair of first-round rookies. This is a difficult match-up, though, with the Heat entering as a sure-fire playoff team and boasting multiple star-level players.

Jimmy Butler is the biggest name for Miami, but Bam Adebayo might be the most indispensable piece for the visitors. It will be (very) interesting to see how the Hawks deal with both in this spot, with attention still to be allotted to Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, slam dunk champion Derrick Jones Jr. and others.

At the risk of putting too much emphasis on one game in February, the Hawks could certainly use a competitive performance here to kick-start the team’s stretch run. Atlanta has 26 contests remaining and, with the schedule easing up considerably compared to the team’s early run, the Hawks are expected to take their new pieces and win at a much higher clip.

Atlanta shouldn’t be expected to beat Miami, even at home, but there should be plenty of excitement around the building as things get back underway for the sprint to the finish.

On Thursday night, the Hawks and Heat tip off at 7:30 pm ET at State Farm Arena, and the game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southeast. If you’d like to buy tickets to the game against Miami, you can do so from StubHub here.

Stay tuned.

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