The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Miami Heat Friday night, 118-103. Coming off a loss to the Knicks, this places the Hawks 5th in the East, one game behind New York in the standings. In the face of adversity: multiple injuries, coaching changes, and more, this young Hawks team has rallied to a 33-27 record. Eyeing a playoff run, every game seems like a must-win for Atlanta moving forward.
The list of players that are currently listed as OUT for the Hawks (as of 4/24) is quite extensive:
De’Andre Hunter was off to the races this year, campaigning for an All-Star slot early this season. He was averaging 17 points, five rebounds, and was shooting an efficient 51.6% from the field.
Kris Dunn, PG from Chicago, has been out all season recovering from ankle surgery. Known for his defensive prowess, Dunn’s absence has certainly been felt. Point guard, a position that continues to struggle on the defensive side of the ball, is looking forward to adding Dunn to the rotation.
Cam Reddish, yet to break out, has also been on the injury report for quite some time. Recovering from an Achilles injury, Reddish has been slow to produce for the Hawks but has certainly been trending in the right direction.
Firing Lloyd Pierce was 3 years overdue. Always carrying a blank expression on his face, coach Lloyd Pierce brought no energy or passion to the court. In the three years that Pierce was head coach of the Hawks, his overall record was 63-120.
Nate McMillan took over the regime after Pierce was fired earlier this year.
Nate McMillan has these kids playing hard. You can see drastic improvements in ball movement, team chemistry, and defensive effort/strategy under Coach McMillan. Nate turned Trae Young into a “pass-first” point guard, which has seemed to be an effective strategy. You can see Coach Nate getting more creative with setting up Clint Capela for easy dunks and isolating the red-headed sharpshooter, Kevin Huerter, in his favorite quarter.
The ball is moving well. Hawks are racking up wins. Whatever Nate is doing is working in Atlanta. Nate McMillan’s record with the Atlanta Hawks is 19-7.
The biggest x-factor for this team is Center, Clint Capela. Leading the league in rebounding, an area the Hawks have struggled with the past three years, Capela is averaging 14.7 rebounds per game. His passion and effort to grab offensive boards can be felt through the television screen.
Capela has become a favorite target for Trae Young. Trae and company find themselves making easy lobs to Capela for an easy 2 points multiple times every night.
A mobile Center, Clint can outrun defenders on a fastbreak to secure an easy layup (more often, a savage dunk.)
The Hawks are a deep team. Finding diamonds in the rough in young guys such as Tony Snell, Skylar Mays, and Brandon Goodwin, the Hawks have been able to wear teams down and win with a crippled lineup. As players come off the IL, the Hawks will have great reserves going into the playoffs.
If the playoffs were to begin today, Atlanta’s first series would be against the New York Knicks, which I think they would win. Knicks play great defense, a huge weakness for Atlanta, but they lack the depth of roster Atlanta has.