Hawks face difficult stretch to begin the second half of the season

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With exactly half of the season remaining (36 games), the Hawks sit just 0.5 games out of the 10th seed in the East, 2.0 games out of the 6th seed (which is the final seed that doesn’t have to participate in the new play-in tournament), and 3.0 games out of the 4th seed, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round.

It’s been a disappointing start to the 2021 campaign, resulting in head coach Lloyd Pierce’s firing less than a week before the All-Star break. But, the Hawks were able to win their final two games before the break, and their entire season is still right in front of them; however, a fast start coming out of the All-Star break is a must, which won’t be easy considering their schedule.

According to Tankathon, the Hawks had the sixth-easiest second-half schedule when they were released in late February. That sounds promising, but the beginning stretch is anything but easy. The Hawks begin their journey tonight with a road game against the Raptors. They follow that with two winnable home games versus the Kings and Cavaliers, but nine of their next ten come on the road against Western Conference opponents. It’s the kind of stretch that will make-or-break Atlanta’s season, especially with the trade deadline smack-dab in the middle of it (March 25th).

Of course, that’s a significant date for the Hawks, who have a decision to make regarding their star power forward, John Collins. There are tons of teams interested, and Travis Schlenk has admitted to listening to all offers. I still think it’s likely Collins remains in Atlanta for the entire season, but a rough start to the second-half could totally change that, and it should, especially if the Hawks do not plan on offering him close to a max-contract in free agency.

Following the stretch against the West, the schedule does lighten up a bit, but by that time, it could be too little too late. It is imperative the Hawks somehow claw their way to a .500 record to begin the second half of the season. If they can do that, they have a fantastic chance of putting together a run and making the playoffs for the first time in three years.

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