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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview

The Blazers venture back out onto the court for the first time since losing Jusuf Nurkic to another devastating injury.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (7-5) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5-6)

Injury has struck the Portland Trail Blazers and Jusuf Nurkic again. While the Blazer universe seems a bit lost at the moment, the team still has 60 games to play and the first is against the also injury-plagued Atlanta Hawks. Watch for how Terry Stotts arranges the big man rotation and how the team galvanizes moving forward. The Hawks are coming off a 24-point loss to the Utah Jazz last night.

Saturday, January 16 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out), Zach Collins (out)
Hawks injuries: Danilo Gallinari (out), Bogdan Bogdanovic (out), Kris Dunn (out)
SBN Affiliate: Peachtree Hoops

*Blazer’s Edge receives a commission when you subscribe through these links.

What To Watch For

  • Center minutes. As discussed, Nurkic is out for the foreseeable future, but Zach Collins is too. The last big men standing are Enes Kanter, Harry Giles and, in a pinch, Robert Covington. It really is pick your poison with both Kanter and Giles not being quite the player that is Jusuf Nurkic. Will Giles start and get the famed Noah Vonleh minutes or will Kanter step straight into the Nurkic role, interrupting the existing rotation?
  • Team morale. How does the team come out after the Nurkic injury and the throttling suffered at the hands of the Indiana Pacers? Players and coaches were obviously devastated after the game. How will that devastation manifest itself against the Hawks? The impact might slow the team down or energize them enough to make a statement on the court.
  • Harry Giles. Giles has been covered above, but a lot has been said about his ability and potential. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man,” as the guitars on Lose Yourself by Eminem start strumming. He has shown teasing glimpses of cerebral passing, solid scoring and some defense, but this is his moment to show the NBA world that he belongs.

What They’re Saying

The Hawks have been hampered by injuries to some of the team’s most recent additions - Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kris Dunn, writes Brad Rowland of Peachtree Hoops.

“Atlanta indicates further analysis on Bogdanovic “has confirmed no associated injury to knee ligaments, and he “has begun early stage rehabilitation.” There is still no firm timetable for his recovery at this time.”

“Dunn underwent arthroscopic surgery in late December to remove loose cartilage in his right ankle, and he was placed in a walking boot. The announcement of a successful surgery came with a two-week timetable for re-evaluation, which arrived on Thursday, and the Hawks announced that Dunn had his walking boot removed on Thursday, and he has progressed into weight-bearing rehabilitation and modified form shooting. He will be reviewed in two additional weeks.”

There has also been some discussion on the future of John Collins — the other Collins taken in the 2017 NBA draft — on whether he stays in Atlanta, according to Matthew Hallett of Soaring Down South.

“Unlike the situation with James Harden and the Houston Rockets, the parties involved have managed to keep the conversation civil so there is not a great rush to trade Collins. However, the Hawks do not want to risk Collins walking at the end of the season for nothing.”

“As a result, the rumor mill has been bubbling and brewing about whether the Hawks are indeed going to trade Collins or are they going to see if they can patch things up. This would be their preferred situation but not one which is too likely.”