The Hawks rank near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but they haven’t had their full complement of rotation players through 15 games. Now their injury luck appears to be improving just as the schedule toughens.
The Hawks (3-12) listed guard/forward DeAndre’ Bembry as probable on its injury report for Saturday’s game against the Celtics (14-2) at Philips Arena. Bembry had right wrist surgery Oct. 24 after sustaining a fracture during the first game of the season. The team said at the time that Bembry would miss four to six weeks.
Bembry’s return should boost the Hawks’ depth at the wing positions behind starters Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince. Bembry played sparingly as a rookie in 2016-17, but has potential as a defender and play-maker. As the only Hawks wing reserve with length, Bembry offers coach Mike Budenholzer more flexibility in his matchups.
Bembry’s pending activation follows the the return of Ersan Ilyasova, the starting power forward to begin the season. Ilyasova played 18 minutes off the bench Wednesday against the Kings after he’d missed eight consecutive games and 10 overall with a knee injury.
Reserve forward Mike Muscala (knee) participated in “70 to 80 percent” of practice Friday, Budenholzer said. Muscala, who has missed the past four games, is listed as questionable for the Kings game.
The Hawks have been especially thin in the frontcourt. Budenholzer has relied heavily on veteran Luke Babbitt, who has been a rotation player for one of his previous seven NBA seasons. Last week the Hawks signed Luke Cavanaugh from its G-League affiliate and he played a total of 37 minutes over the past two games.
The positive injury news should further buoy the Hawks after they were in good spirits following the 126-80 victory over the Kings. It was their first home victory in five tries, and the 46-point victory margin was the largest in the history of the franchise.
The East-leading Celtics have won 14 games in a row, including a 92-88 home victory over the Warriors on Thursday night. The Celtics beat the Hawks 110-107 at Philips Arena on Nov. 6 behind 35 points from point guard Kyrie Irving.
The game against the Celtics is the first of five over the next six for the Hawks against opponents with winning records. They are at the Spurs on Monday before home games vs. the Clippers, Knicks, Raptors and Cavaliers.