The Atlanta Hawks return home from their season-long eight-game road trip on Sunday to host the Golden State Warriors, but who knows how healthy either team will be.
The Hawks went 4-4 on the trip but played short-handed on the final stop in New Orleans and still emerged with a 126-103 win over the Pelicans. Atlanta was without all five players who made up its starting lineup in the season opener — leading scorer Trae Young (left knee soreness), Danilo Gallinari (left Achilles soreness), John Collins (left ankle sprain), De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness) and Cam Reddish, who has missed 19 games with a right Achilles injury.
Atlanta interim coach Nate McMillan said it was just a gutty effort by his limited roster.
“We wanted to pretty much approach this game as if it was the fourth quarter,” McMillan said. “We needed to dig deep and be strong.”
Said center Clint Capela said: “We just take it as a challenge. I know it’s a marathon. It’s a long journey. My head is just trying to keep up with it; do what I do. Try to block out, rebounds, running and just stay focused on all the things that I do best.”
Atlanta has been helped through the injuries by contributions from Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is averaging 25.3 points and shooting 58.3 percent on 3-pointers over the last three games, and Kevin Huerter, who scored a season-high 24 against New Orleans after being held scoreless against San Antonio the previous game.
The trade-deadline pickup of veteran Lou Williams also proved timely. He scored 19 points against the Pelicans in his second game since joining the club.
“Lou is Lou,” McMillan said. “We know what he’s capable of doing, and he is slowly working himself into a rhythm. We’re coming up with some sets and some plays for him and the second unit.”
The Warriors are looking for answers after dropping the first two games of their three-game road trip. Golden State, which played without Steph Curry and Draymond Green, was hammered 130-77 by the Toronto Raptors in Tampa on Friday, the third-largest loss in Warriors’ history. The Warriors have lost six of their last seven games, including a 124-108 decision to Atlanta on March 26.
“(Injuries) are all a part of it,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “You turn to the bench and it’s next guy up. Injuries are no excuse.”
Curry averages 29.2 points but has missed six of the last eight games with a tailbone contusion; he didn’t play the first game against Atlanta but is expected to play on Sunday. Curry has not played against Atlanta since December 2018.
Green was a late scratch with a left finger injury. Kerr explained, “He could barely hold onto the ball.”
Jordan Poole was able to return after missing the last game with a left ankle sprain. He played 30 minutes and scored 10 points but made only 3-of-15 from the floor. Eric Paschall was back after missing two games with a sore left wrist; he scored nine.
The Hawks have won the last two games against the Warriors after losing nine in a row.
–Field Level Media