Hawks in sole possession of the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference

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Last night’s comeback win over the Hornets will be overshadowed by Miles Bridges’ dunk of the year on Clint Capela, but there are so many more positive things to take away from the game for Atlanta than Charolette. Before the game, it was announced that Trae Young and Danilo Gallinari wouldn’t be available as they joined John Collins, Deā€™Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Tony Snell, and Kris Dunn on the bench. The Hawks have lost the third-most man games due to injury, according to Spotrac. It wouldn’t matter as the short-handed Hawks came from behind and won off a Brandon Goodwin season-high of 17 points and a Bogdan Bogdanovic season-high of 32 points behind a career-high eight three-pointers.

In the early going, the Hawks were the superior team by a large margin as the Hornets struggled to score more than a few points in the first five minutes of the game, leading to a 24-7 first-quarter start. But Charlotte fought back and brought the lead to 13 at the end of the first quarter. With only ten players available for Nate McMillan, the Hornets bench made it a much closer game, getting within single digits as the first half ended. Clint Capela finished the first half with a double-double scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds as he and the Hawks’ defense propelled the first-half lead.

The onslaught continued, though, as the Hawks reestablished their double-digit lead behind 11 third-quarter points from Bogdanovic. It seemed as if the game was going to open back up as Bogi continued with the hot hand, but Terry Rozier led the Hornets on a 15-3 run resulting in a 10 point lead with 7:16 to go in the final frame.

Down 10 in the final quarter, with only 10 players, it didn’t look good for the Hawks. Lou Williams showed up exactly when the team needed him most after a poor first three quarters with back-to-back threes to bring the Hawks within five points — scoring eight straight to help cut the lead to 97-94. Following the highlight-dunk of the year by Bridges, the Hawks ultimately ended up tying the game with 2:41 to play, which completed the 17-7 run after falling behind by 10. In the winding minutes of play, Atlanta played smart defense and hit their free throws to escape Sunday’s game with a win — staples of a Nate McMillan-led team. You have to give McMillan a ton of credit, the Hawks were 1-14 in games when they trailed by double digits before he took over. They are now 6-5 in such games.

This placed them in sole possession of the fourth seed in the East, but the Celtics, Heat, Hornets, and Knicks are battling in the same area. If the Hawks were to hit a rough patch, there could be a reason to fret. For now, the Hawks are playing well and are holding firm in the playoff race as the ever-important players get healthier.

The Hawks are now four games over .500 for the first time since 2017, and play tomorrow night against the Raptors in Tampa.

 

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  1. Pingback: 4 reasons Trae Young and the Hawks are finally tapping into their potential

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