How far can the Hawks extend their win-streak?

Nate McMillan

The Hawks are sitting in the 8th seed of the Eastern Conference and are just a couple of games out of the 4th spot, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. I don’t think many people thought that would have been possible just a couple of weeks ago, but Lloyd Pierce’s firing has clearly helped turn things around for the Hawks.

Atlanta has benefited from various factors — Tony Snell‘s clutch shot combined with Toronto’s failures at the free-throw line helped them to a double-digit comeback win last week. The Hawks have also been matched up with some inferior opponents. However, the notable fourth-quarter improvements, particularly at the end of games, under Nate McMillan is the primary reason for Atlanta’s most recent five-game win-streak — the Hawks longest stretch of wins since 2016-2017, when they won seven in a row.

So can the Hawks match that number? I certainly think they can. Their next game is against Houston, and while the Rockets have some firepower, they currently sport the third-worst record in the NBA. PJ Tucker is also reportedly on the trade block, and while I doubt he’s dealt before tomorrow’s game, they could be short-handed.

Atlanta will match up with Oklahoma City on Thursday, and while OKC was arguably the biggest surprise in the NBA last season, they no longer have Chris Paul, Steven Adams, and other pieces that made them so good. The Thunder are tied for the seventh-worst record in the NBA. It’s always a treat to watch Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but he’s battling through a quad contusion. If he’s out, the Hawks should roll.

Of course, nothing — especially in the NBA — is a guarantee. The Hawks have had the most trouble this year with some of The Association’s worst teams. Hopefully, with McMillan in charge, those woes are a thing of the past. Winning these next two games would go a long way in convincing the rest of the league that this win-streak is no fluke.

The schedule gets much more difficult this Saturday. The Hawks travel to Los Angeles for a showdown with the Lakers, the first of eight straight games on the road against Western Conference opponents. While LeBron James has given the Hawks fits over his whole career, Anthony Davis will be out as he nurses an Achilles injury.

It’s probable that Atlanta’s win-streak ends at seven. However, at that point, the Hawks will be over .500 and hopefully have a better foothold in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Clippers await Atlanta next, and after a game with the Kings, the Hawks will face the Warriors, Nuggets, and Suns — three playoff teams. Atlanta needs to capitalize on the two games above as they have over the last five because the heat gets turned up starting on Saturday.

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