Though the team’s performance on Friday evening left plenty to be desired, the Atlanta Hawks split a pair of road meetings with the Boston Celtics. In the grand scheme, that is a reasonable result and, following that extended stay in Massachusetts, the Hawks will return home to face the Denver Nuggets on Sunday evening.
After a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season, the Nuggets are off to a relatively slow start, posting a 16-13 record. Denver did pick up a victory in their last contest, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers by double-digits, and Jamal Murray exploded for 50 points without attempting a single free throw.
The Nuggets are a tremendous offensive team, scoring more than 1.15 points per possession for the season. Murray is the team’s second-leading scorer, but he supports a legitimate MVP candidate in center Nikola Jokic. For the season, Jokic is averaging 27.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game, and his 57/40/87 shooting splits are outrageously impressive.
The matchup between Jokic and Clint Capela will draw quite a bit of attention, and the same can be said for Murray matching up against Trae Young. Atlanta’s offense showed signs of life in the second half against Boston on Friday and, in short, this is certainly a winnable game for the Hawks.
The home team will continue to operate without four perimeter players in De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn. The rest of the injury report is clean, however, and the Nuggets will be missing three rotation pieces in Gary Harris (adductor), JaMychal Green (shoulder) and old friend Paul Millsap (knee).
Even at home, Atlanta will enter as the betting underdog, with bookmakers installing the Nuggets as small favorites as of Friday evening. Still, this is not a situation in which the Hawks are at a massive talent disadvantage, and it will be interesting to see how they defend Jokic and the efficient Denver offense.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, Feb. 21, 7:30 pm ET
Location: State Farm Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (out of market)
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go