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Hawks look to halt home slide vs. depleted Magic

Sportsnaut
Dec 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) gets a rebound against the Houston Rockets during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) gets a rebound against the Houston Rockets during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are scheduled to host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, depending on the current COVID-19 situation within each club.

Both teams had their last game postponed. Atlanta’s contest with Cleveland on Sunday was moved because of issues within the Cavaliers’ roster. Orlando’s game with Toronto scheduled for Monday was postponed because of an outbreak within the Magic.

Each team will be dealing with a different-looking roster.

Atlanta will be without Trae Young, the second-leading scorer in the NBA (27.3 points). Young, who was already dealing with a left ankle issue, entered the league’s health and safety protocols and will not play against the Magic. He had scored 25-plus points in 12 straight games.

“That’s always a surprise, but it’s been happening a lot in the league, where guys are coming in and testing and having to go into protocol,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “That was a bit of a surprise for us. … Everybody has to step up and be ready to go.”

The Hawks have options at point guard, with veteran Lou Williams and Delon Wright both capable.

Atlanta will rely on veterans John Collins and Clint Capela to carry more of the load as the team tries to end a six-game homecourt losing streak. Collins (17.2 points, 7.9 rebounds) has had back-to-back double-doubles and Capela (11.5 points, 12.8 rebounds) leads the league with 18 double-doubles.

Atlanta could get Bogdan Bogdanovic back for the game. The veteran has missed eight games with a severely sprained right ankle suffered on Nov. 27 against the New York Knicks.

“He’s been moving,” McMillan said. “He’s played some 3-on-3. Been doing shooting, running … been doing some conditioning.”

Just to be sure they have enough players, the Hawks recalled first-round pick Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper from their G League team in College Park, Ga.

Orlando played with a short roster on Saturday when it beat Brooklyn, which had 10 players in COVID protocol and had to sign two players before the game to reach the minimum number of available players.

Orlando has five players in protocols: Terrence Ross, Moritz Wagner, R.J. Hampton, Mo Bamba and Ignas Brazdeikis. Seven others are out with injuries, the most recent being Wendell Carter, who strained a muscle in his right lower leg against the Nets.

The Magic will depend heavily on veterans Robin Lopez and Gary Harris to get through the situation. Lopez had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Harris scored 17 against the Nets. Orlando has gotten a lift from Franz Wagner, who is averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists since taking over for the injured Cole Anthony.

“The one thing we’ve said from Day One when we talk about him is how he has a very high basketball IQ,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “The fact that he knows when to make the right plays, the right decision.”

This Hawks won the first two meetings between the clubs this season, 129-111 on Nov. 15 in Atlanta and 111-99 on Dec. 15 in Orlando. They will complete the season series Feb. 16 in Orlando.

–Field Level Media