Have the Atlanta Hawks finally found an identity?
There was a point this season when it wasn’t outlandish to suggest that the Atlanta Hawks were the most disappointing team in the NBA or, at the very least, in the Eastern Conference this season.
Roughly one month ago, the Hawks were 14-20 and sitting in 11th place in the East. They were falling quickly down the standings and at a dangerous spot in the season. That’s when the Hawks decided to part ways with head coach Lloyd Pierce.
Nate McMillan, an experienced NBA coach, took over as interim coach. Since then, the Hawks have looked like an entirely different team. I’m not sure if you give McMillan all the credit, because that timeline also coincides with the team getting healthier, but you have to recognize him as at least part of the team’s turnaround.
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Since that change, the Hawks are 12-4 and have risen to 4th in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is finally beginning to look like the team many expected them to be ahead of the season.
During the offseason, the Hawks were one of the most aggressive teams. Atlanta acquired Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, and (theoretically) Clint Capela. Three key pieces to their booming rotation at the moment.
Of course, there’s a good chance that this is simply a honeymoon stage stretch for the team. After all, it almost seems as if everything started to click as soon as the team made the head coaching transition to McMillan.
Over the team’s last 16 games, the Hawks have improved on both ends of the floor. They went from being the 13th ranked offense to the seventh-ranked. Defensively, they’ve jumped from 25th to 12th. They also have a top 10 net rating in their last 16 games.
The Hawks are certainly playing like a team that has finally sorted their issues out – and a team that is beginning to hit their stride ahead of the playoff push. After trade rumors surrounding a few of their rotation players quieted down and disappeared, Atlanta has had the opportunity to focus on basketball and it has helped make all the difference.
As the playoff push quickly approaches, the Hawks could be emerging as a dark horse threat in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Whether this is simply a hot streak or what we can expect from the Hawks moving forward remains to be seen, but there are certainly some encouraging signs.
The Atlanta Hawks has the 8th easiest schedule remaining. If they can continue to play at this level, there’s no question that they’ll be able to finish as a top 5 seed in the East. After a less than stellar start to the season, for their journey to end in the second round of the playoffs would be a good step forward for this team.