Finally, the Atlanta Hawks can join the majority of the NBA in playing their first game of the regular season. In the three-plus months since they last took the court, their biggest change might be that they’re mostly healthy. Veterans Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, both listed as questionable, are the only, well, question marks.
That almost wasn’t the case after the Hawks entered training camp with several players still healing from offseason procedures, including center Clint Capela.
The 2021 rebounding champ missed much of the offseason program and preseason recovering from PRP injections for his Achilles. Atlanta did a lot of mixing and matching with their lineups in the preseason as a result.
The Atlanta Hawks know the NBA regular season is a marathon, not a sprint
There has been a lot of buildup to this game ever since the schedule was released back in late August. It is an easy sell with Trae Young and Luka Doncic facing off once again. Doncic has a 3-1 head-to-head advantage. But Young has taken his team much further in the playoffs, reaching the Conference Finals.
His Mavs counterpart has yet to make it out of the first round.
Still, Dallas is a very formidable foe. They will surely be looking to get off to a hot start, are healthy, and have obviously posed problems for Atlanta in the past. That this game will also be on the road only adds to the difficulty.
As such, and being that this will be just 1-of-82 in what is a very (very) long and grueling season.
Four of the last five NBA champions began the season 0-1. Great, right? Except four of the previous five before that went 1-0 to start their campaigns. In other words, there really is no rhyme or reason to it. Unless you’re buying it goes in five-year cycles. In that case, certainly, the win would be great.
For the record, the Hawks won their opener last season; a 124-104 thrashing of the Chicago Bulls.
What is important, aside from health, is seeing how the Hawks go about things. Head Coach Nate McMillan spoke of guys finding out their roles as the season went so that is certainly something to keep an eye on early.
Who is on the floor at the end of the game will be something worth noting as well.
For players, of course, we will be looking to the quartet of Hawks who were either extended or re-signed this summer. But also, who seems to be pressing and forcing up shots. Sets, rotations, and other trends will become clear as the season plays out.
Remember, the starters for Thursday’s contest played fewer than 20 minutes together last season. There could be some hiccups early.
But the final result of this first game, absolutely, positively will not have a significant impact on the Hawks season, granted everyone emerges no worse for the wear.