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Preview: Hawks set for season finale vs. Rockets

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks (40-31) will take on the Houston Rockets (16-55) Sunday evening as the 2021 Southeast Division Champions, with the Miami Heat’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday evening clinching the accomplishment. It is the Hawks’ first division championship since 2015.

The Hawks still have a great deal to play for Sunday evening, potentially, as a win combined with a loss by the New York Knicks would seal the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage in the first round for Atlanta. However, if New York, who plays at 1 PM ET on ESPN against the Celtics, were to win on Sunday, the game becomes a non-factor as the Hawks would be locked into the No. 5 seed due to the Knicks having the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Rockets will be happy to closeout a disastrous season that was highlighted by James Harden’s forced exit to the Brooklyn Nets early in the year. The Rockets received Victor Oladipo in that deal, and wound up dumping him to the Heat for a pair of expiring contracts. Houston has the worst record in the NBA and that will not change regardless of the result on Sunday.

Atlanta wraps up a successful 2020-21 campaign, highlighted obviously by their run from being in the lottery the past three seasons to a division championship and top-five seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They have been one of the best teams in the East since the beginning of March, and have the potential to make noise in the playoffs.


The Hawks will apparently play everyone tomorrow regardless of what happens with the Knicks per Nate McMillan, but it is certainly possibly this could change in the event of a New York win, which makes the Hawks game vs. the Rockets a moot point in terms of seeding.

If New York locks up the No. 4 seed, it would not be surprise to see notable guys get rest on Sunday, whether that is via full DNPs or a minute restriction. McMillan did rather firmly say that they didn’t plan on resting guys after practice on Saturday, though.

In terms of the actual injury report, Kevin Huerter (left ankle soreness) and Tony Snell (right Achilles soreness) are probable. Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder soreness) is questionable, while Cam Reddish (Achilles soreness) remains out.

The Rockets have quite a bit of noise on their injury report for Sunday night. Eric Gordon (groin), Sterling Brown (head), Danuel House Jr. (ankle), Khryi Thomas (lower leg), Kevin Porter Jr. (ankle), Christian Wood (ankle), John Wall (hamstring), Dante Exum (calf), David Nwaba (wrist) and Avery Bradley (personal) will all be out for the season finale.

The Line

Atlanta opens as 10.5-point favorites over the Rockets as of early Sunday morning, and if they have incentive to win this game the line might be even higher.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, May 16, 7:00 pm ET

Location: State Farm Arena

TV: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (out of market)

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

Streaming: Bally Sports App