Hawks finish injury-marred season

Photo courtesy of Logan Riely NBAE / Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks have just finished their regular season and are looking towards the postseason and offseason after what felt like a disappointing season following the Eastern Conference Finals appearance last season.  The Hawks hovered around the .500 mark in win percentage for most of the season. They have been very streaky, having two separate winning streaks of seven games and a five-game winning streak near the end of the season. The five-game winning streak gave the Hawks a 43-39 record and an opportunity to compete in a playoff play-in game as the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks suffered an unlucky stretch near the end of the season where they struggled to win in close scenarios. Teams Atlanta needed to lose to improve their seed never lost. Nevertheless, the Hawks still put themselves in a position to make a playoff run in the highly contested Eastern Conference.

The Hawks’ top performer this season was All-Star point guard Trae Young. Young led the entire NBA in total points and assists during the regular season, and he averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists per game. Young also earned his second All-Star selection in four seasons in the NBA. Young’s primary running mate, power forward John Collins, also had a successful season outside of injuries. Collins averaged the second most points and second most rebounds for the Hawks when he played. In the 54 games Collins appeared in, he averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Hawks center Clint Capela led the team in rebounds with 11.2 per game along with his average of 10.1 points.

The Hawks as a team under coach Nate McMillan had a very good offense that ranked sixth in the NBA in points per game and were tied with the Utah Jazz for the most efficient offense. The defense on the other hand was toward the bottom of the league as the Hawks allowed the twenty-first most points and had the fifth worst defense in terms of efficiency. The great offense and poor defense led to a lot of high scoring games and inconsistency for Atlanta. Whenever Young and the other Hawks scorers were tuned in, the team was nearly unstoppable. When shots failed to fall, the defense was unable to pick up the slack and help them win many games.

Another factor to be considered regarding the inconsistency of the Hawks is their struggles with injuries. Collins alone missed 28 games for the Hawks this season and the team most likely dropped a few games because of issues with Covid-19. During a stretch from mid-December to mid-January, the Hawks amassed a 3-11 record and in most, if not all, of these games the Hawks roster was battling Covid. At one point during the season the team had twelve players on the roster with Covid at one time. Since the team’s struggles at the turn of the calendar year, the Hawks have won 27 games and only lost 14.

The Hawks suffered a regular season that left a lot to be desired, but with some luck this is just a down year with the team set to be more consistent and play better next year like they did at the end of the season. The Hawks had to win two play-in games in a row, the first this past Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets and the second on Friday, April 15 against the Cavaliers, to be the eight seed in the east. Their season would end with a loss in either of those two games or continue into the playoffs with a seven game series against the Miami Heat in the first round where they will look to make a run.