Hawks post-game locker room clearly the most frustrated of the recent stretch of four losses in five games.— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) November 18, 2015
CMB's post-game press conference was four questions and answers and a total of 1:07.— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) November 18, 2015
As you can tell from the two tweets above, its frustration from the coaching staff all the way down to the players. The evening was summed up best by Atlanta's next to last possession that was a wild sequence featuring a lot of Dennis Schroder dribbles, little to no ball movement and ended with a Brook Lopez block on a putback attempt by Paul Millsap. The Nets took the rebound and pushed the ball into the frontcourt where Thad Young was fouled and ultimately won the game.
To Schroder's credit, he took responsibility for that failed possession following the game. (From the AJC's quoteboard)
"The first half we didn't play with intensity and we didn't move the ball very well. The last shot we could have tied the game. I held the ball too long. I should have passed it a little bit earlier. I take that one on me."
Lets be real for a second though. As bad as that last possession was, it wasn't what cost Atlanta this game. The origins of this loss can be traced back from the beginning and tied to the 20 turnovers committed by Atlanta. To their credit, Brooklyn was only able to turn those into 12 points, but the sloppy play prevented Atlanta from ever finding a rhythm offensively and helped keep Brooklyn in the game.
Sure there are plenty of excuses. They have played the most games of any team in the league so far this season. Their first 13 games have come over the first 22 days of the season. After Wednesday's game, they will have played 10 games in the last 16 days. That stretch has no doubt been exhausting for the team, but it has left little to no room for much practice between games.
The Hawks are also down two starters in Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore who are both out with ankle injuries. Still you can't ignore that this is a team that just isn't playing that well right now even when everyone was available.
Before Tuesday, Atlanta's offense had performed about how you would have expected. They were in the Top 5 of the league and averaging just over 104 points per 100 possessions. They have slipped into the middle of the pack defensively currently allowing 100.4 points per 100 possessions, but that is actually a better rating than they had at the of their 60 win campaign last season.
Still it is clear that there is something that just isn't right. Whether it is a blown defensive assignment, a bad offensive possession or the inability to secure a defensive rebound, this team is just not getting it done in key moments and it is leading to losses. Losing two starters isn't ideal at any point, but it is especially damaging when you are still working new faces into the lineup and have key bench players under minutes restrictions. Mike Budenholzer toyed with the big lineup again in Tuesday's game, but I think he'd rather have his team finding a groove rather than experimenting with rotations.
The Hawks have no choice but to trudge on. They wrap up a back-to-back on Wednesday against a suddenly resurgent Sacramento team and then get two much needed off days before beginning yet another grueling stretch to end the month. The blueprint isn't broken and this team didn't forget how to play. They simply need to play better and it really doesn't get more scientific than that.