The Hawks host their third and final game of the preseason as they take on the Pacers tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Indiana (1-5) is coming off their first exhibition win, defeating Cleveland 102-79 Saturday night.
Atlanta (1-4) split their first two exhibition games of the season, which happened to be a back-to-back set, losing to the Heat in Miami 92-87 and beating the Bobcats in Asheville 87-85 the following night. However, they’ve since lost their last three in a row. They got pounded by the Pelicans 105-73 last week, came up short in the home opener against the Spurs 106-104 on Thursday, and fell to the Grizzlies 90-82 Sunday afternoon.
As has been the case so far this preseason for the Hawks, Gustavo Ayon (shoulder) and Lou Williams (ACL rehab) are not expected to play. New power forward Paul Millsap joins that list too as he will sit out the final two exhibition games with a sore Achilles injury. Dennis Schroder missed Thursday’s game against San Antonio with a sore knee but played Sunday versus Memphis and should be fine to go tonight as well. John Jenkins, who has been dealing with lower back spasms, is expected to play tonight.
Ayon got injured in the first quarter of the Hawks’ preseason opener against the Heat in Miami. He had an MRI exam the next day after returning to Atlanta and it revealed he had inflammation and a rotator cuff strain. Jenkins also had an MRI exam the same day on his lower back, but thankfully it came back negative. Hopefully he can play significant minutes tonight. He and Williams, who continues to rehab from an ACL injury, played in a 4-on-4 following yesterday’s practice. However, it’s already known Williams will miss the first month of the regular season, at least. Millsap aggravated his Achilles in the third quarter against Memphis on Sunday and didn’t return. He spent the latter portion of yesterday’s practice icing his foot and receiving treatment.
With only two exhibition games left, the Hawks still need to trim their roster from 17 players down to 15 by opening night. They waived James Johnson yesterday and still have three training camp invites on the roster, including Royal Ivey, Eric Dawson and Cartier Martin. Johnson and Martin were competing for depth at the small forward position, while Ivey and Shelvin Mack, who has a non-guaranteed deal but is not a training camp invite, are competing for third-string at the point guard position. Atlanta and coach Budenholzer will use these final preseason games tonight and tomorrow to see which of the four players get the last two roster spots.
Hawks — Teague / Korver / Carroll / Horford / Brand
Pacers — Hill / Stephenson / George / West / Hibbert
Hawks — Paul Millsap (sore Achilles), Gustavo Ayon (shoulder), Lou Williams (ACL rehab)
Pacers — Danny Granger (strained left calf)
P.G. vs. D.C.
I was tempted to say the best matchup would be between two backyard brawling types David West vs Paul Millsap, but Millsap will sit out tonight with a sore Achilles.
Paul George is one of the NBA’s emerging superstars and DeMarre Carroll was brought to Atlanta simply for the purpose of locking up the oppositions best perimeter player. West/Millsap would be more entertaining to watch, but George/Carroll is more important to the Hawks’ success this season. George was averaging 18 points per game prior to Saturday’s matchup against Cleveland, while Carroll has limited his counterparts — which includes LeBron James (6), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (3), Kawhi Leonard (7) and Mike Miller (5) — to an average of 5.25 points per game. The only game Carroll didn’t play in Al-Farouq Aminu of the New Orleans Pelicans went off for 14 points on 70% shooting. The Junkyard Dog had held James to 28.5% (2-of-7), MKG to 16.6% (1-of-6), Leonard to 60% (3-of-5), and Miller to 20% (1-of-5) shooting, respectively.
How to Watch
Unfortunately, this game won’t be broadcast on local television. However, you can listen to the action on 92.9 FM.