Heading into Monday’s game against the Utah Jazz the Atlanta Hawks had lost their last ten games on the road and six in a row. Basically, things weren’t looking too good and with the team beat up and in a nosedive it looked like former third-seeded Hawks might drop out of the playoffs. Fortunately though, the Hawks have won three straight to tie their season’s highest win streak.
These wins weren’t anything special with the Jazz, Bucks and Nuggets combining for a 64-135 record on the season but they are games that the Hawks should win. More importantly though, the Hawks were able to finally right the ship before it sank too low. The team still holds the eighth seed in the East despite the slide. This comes at a fortunate time too as both the Knicks and the Cavaliers have recently been making a push of their own to challenge for a playoff spot.
The recent success can be attributed in large part to the fact that the teams they beat were teams they should have beat. More than just beating bad teams though, it also shows a team that’s finally healthy again. For most of February one or more of the starters were injured and it showed on the court. The injuries were felt the hardest in the frontcourt with Pero Antic being out with ankle maladies and Gustavo Ayon going down for season with a shoulder injury on top of Al Horford being out for the season with a pectoral tear.
The recent return of Antic and everyone else being healthy really showed throughout this week. Against the Jazz Kyle Korver notched 26 points including 4-4 from three. Jeff Teague really asserted himself against the Bucks and Nuggets going for 14pts/8ast and 24pts/14ast respectively. Paul Millsap continued in his jack-of-all-trades roll averaging 23pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, and 1 block on the week. Antic was able to play significant minutes which helped to not only lighten the load for Elton Brand and others but also helped provide another floor stretching big man.
Unless the Hawks make a significant push or one of the teams ahead of them drop off, at this point it looks like they will be facing either the Pacers or Heat—meaning a first round exit. While that’s not ideal, it’s not likely the Hawks would be able to make a deep run at this point without Horford. The best thing the Hawks can hope for at this point is that team continues to remain healthy and can salvage what’s left of the season to at least make the playoffs.