Here we go again! The Atlanta Hawks have once again shown signs of dominance winning their first three games. But over the last nine games, the team has gone 2-7 during that stretch. It’s a long season to say the least. Having to avoid COVID-19 while still trying to play high level of basketball is an understatement. Although it is early, the Hawks should try to stop the bleeding soon enough.
The Hawks are just not playing with the same sense of urgency to begin the new calendar year. Teams are getting easy transition baskets and the team does not seem to be recovering well from their opponent’s momentum. The fact of the matter is that the team hasn’t been able to close out fourth quarters the past few weeks. The communication on the floor seems to be out of sync and there needs to be a change soon.
Within the first five games of the season, we witnessed an Atlanta team that was locked in and engaged on the defensive end. They were rotating to different players and making things difficult for the opposing team. Like I said, recently the fourth quarter is what seems to bite them late in games. They allow teams to execute properly, which results in defensive breakdowns for Lloyd Pierce and his team.
As people may know, the Hawks’ success does start out with both Trae Young and John Collins, who during this losing streak have played inconsistently. I get it, it is a long regular season. Every game will not result with an efficient shooting performance. Not to mention Collins has been vocal about being unhappy with his role. But as leaders, Young and Collins must figure out how to impact the games besides scoring. Whether that is passing, rebounding, or getting deflections, the rest of the team will look for them to be the initiators in the game to make plays happen.
The Hawks are also not getting the same amount of production from role players as they once were. Coach Pierce seems to still be experiencing different lineups in the rotation. It’s hard to find which players to go with when the players are playing inconsistent. With young talent and veteran presence on the team, it has been rather difficult to figure out who plays and who sits.
Through this season, we’ve watched Cam Reddish inserted into the starting lineup while Kevin Huerter comes off the bench. For the most part, Reddish has been very inconsistent with the minutes he has been given. The Hawks are also without key signing Bogdon Bogdanovic for a significant time due to injury. Coach Pierce will have to feel for who has been playing consistent minutes, while also deciding who should remain in the lineup during crunch time.
Although it has been a struggle for the Hawks, they still deserve credit for staying close in games. Despite the stars struggling and role players not contributing enough, somehow they are in the midst of being toe to toe with their opponents. Last season, the team went on a west coast road trip and got blown out by 30+ in numerous games, dropping their record to last place in the East. This year, there is more fight and somewhat of a tenacity out of the young players. It may not look bad on paper, the team still needs more effort if they are going to get back on the winning column.
The one thing to notice about Atlanta is they rely on their offense to win games for them. They have not allowed as many points as they did the first five games (114.6), but without their offensive weapons, it has been difficult to sneak by teams. Remember, offense does win games. And when there are great shooters on a team like Atlanta, it should occur often. There’s numerous offensive threats on this Atlanta roster. If they cannot mesh together on that end, it’s going to be difficult for them to get over the hump.