The week of festivities has come to an end and the trade deadline has passed. The Hawks stand first in the east at 43-11, tops in wins in the league. Coming off a 19 game winning streak, the Hawks went in to the All-Star break with a few losses. However, I do not see this as a reason for concern. Let’s take a look at the Hawks and compare them to the last team to have such an extraordinary streak, the 2012-2013 Miami Heat. The Heat won 27 straight games that season, finally losing to the Chicago Bulls, and then a few games later again to the New York Knicks, two quality opponents that season. The Heat went on to win the remainder of their games and finish at 66-16, a great record and most importantly, an achievable record for these Atlanta Hawks. At the All-Star Break the Hawks are averaging 103.4 points per game and allowing 96.8 points per game in comparison to Miami’s 102.9 points per game and 95 points allowed per game in the 2012-13 season. This is the year in which they won the NBA Finals. As evidenced by these statistics, the Hawks are in company with one of the best teams of our generation and are a top-5 team in both categories. Losses to New Orleans, Memphis and Boston should not phase these Hawks, as the latter two losses came down the stretch in the fourth quarter in close games. Our statement win over Golden State should erase any fear Atlanta fans have in this team. While the Boston loss was inexcusable, with four All-Stars on the roster, the team’s mindset was likely already in New York for the big game. Memphis is one of the hardest cities to win on the road. The Hawks are still 37-2 with the lead after the 3rd quarter, and that’s when they score a large majority of their points. Take nothing away from these Hawks, they are just as dangerous as before and perhaps even more so, and the reason why is simple. The Hawks are no longer under pressure to win every game. Any team will tell you that a long, drawn out winning streak is exhausting, mentally and physically. This nine day break came at the perfect time for the Hawks, as they should be fresh and hungry to maintain their 1 seed. The Hawks only made a minor trade at the deadline, moving Adreian Payne to the Wolves for future first round pick. With their team chemistry fully intact and with some fresh legs, the Hawks will take the 1 seed with the 6.5 game lead they own as of now. This 1 seed should be the number one priority for Atlanta down the stretch, as they have lost only 3 games at home this season. The big concern among many Hawks fans is the rebounding issues the team has had throughout the year. This is another similarity this year’s team has with the 2012-13 Heat. The Heat knew they needed a rim protector and went out and signed Chris Andersen to two 10-day contracts, and later for the rest of the season. While it’s not out of the question that the Hawks may make a move, I believe this is a problem that can be solved internally down the stretch. Elton Brand will play more minutes in the playoffs and with his limited play he should be fresh and ready to log some big minutes for the team. An increased role for Mike Muscala may emerge as well. The way I see it is the Hawks have the luxury of having a top-3 coach in this league in charge of his own roster. Coach Bud knows what is best for his roster, and in the words of Demarre Carroll, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” What Hawks fans need to realize is, it ain’t broke, and the Hawks will continue to play their brand basketball down the stretch and prepare themselves for a playoff run.
My prediction: The Hawks finish with at least 60 wins and the roster will be as-is come Playoffs.
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