Atlanta's streak ended up being an amazing 19 wins in a row, all five starters were named Co-Players of the Month, and we have a top-notch game tonight against the West-leading Warriors. Here we have the Stat Geek Five, about how to start a new streak and why we may not have to.
1. The loss vs the Pelicans was only the 4th time all season the Hawks didn't have at least 20 assists.
This stat is a testament to how the streak happened and also a lesson in how it ended. The Hawks thrive on ball movement, and without that, the streak was snapped. Strangely enough, having less than 20 assists has happened as many times this year as the streak was happening (two) as it did in 2014. Even weirder, this is their first loss in a game without 20 assists. Maybe they don't need ball movement! Just kidding. Keep sharing that ball, boys.
2. John Jenkins may prove to be a suitable replacement for Thabo.
Jenkins had more minutes in the games against the 76ers and Pelicans than he has in the rest of the season combined. You might say his minutes against Philly are just a chance to rest the starters and his minutes against New Orleans are just a product of a depleted bench, and you may be right. Don't be too dismissive yet. In those two games, John was 7-10 from the field including 2-2 from the arc. The 76ers may not be a good team, but the Pelicans are pretty good, and 3-5 shooting helped keep us in that game. Despite having three times more minutes in his rookie season than he's had last year and this year, John may just be turning the corner. If so, his shooting game could just be the peg the Hawks need to plug a Sefolosha-sized hole in the bench.
3. The Wednesday game vs the Wizards was the first time since 2013 that Kyle Korver shot under 20 percent from three while the Hawks as a team still shot over 40 percent from three.
AND WE WON. This stat just blows my mind. Kyle is such a three-point anchor it makes me forget that he's fallible. Excellent games by Teague and Carroll really buoyed Korver's rough patch. Not to be outdone, Kyle proved what a professional he is. What can you do when you're not hitting shots? Defend and pass. Kyle responded to his poor shooting night by dishing out six assists - his most assists since mid-November and only his 9th time as a Hawk to hit that number.
4. The Hawks have been brutal in fourth quarters at home.
Wednesday, Atlanta had a 76-74 lead going into the fourth quarter. A lot of teams would be nervous with such a small lead in a home game, but the Hawks shouldn't fear. In their last ten home games, the Hawks have been a cumulative +49 in fourth quarters. Compare that to the other teams in the top five in the NBA: Portland is an impressive +47, Houston is a pedestrian +6, Memphis is a dismal -9, and most importantly, tonight's opponent Golden State is only +29. Just for the curious who will be watching the game tonight, Golden State is a cumulative -1 in fourth quarters on the road in their past 10 games. If the Hawks take a lead into the fourth, there is reason to be optimistic.
5. It's going to be a good year.
Before I get too many "duuuuuuh" comments below, I just wanted to put a qualitative slant on that phrase. That's what we do here at the Stat Geek Five. We all know the Hawks have been great, but how great? Oh, let me count the ways:
• Last year, Atlanta finished with 38 wins. We have eclipsed that before the All-Star Break.
• Over the last five years, the average eight seed in the East has finished with 38 wins. As stated, the Hawks have already passed that. So based on that recent performance, they could lose EVERY SINGLE GAME and still make the playoffs. And if that doesn't make you feel confident, try these next two:
• Finishing with 58 wins, or going 17-15 over the rest of the season, is good enough to claim the franchise record in wins and seal this as one of the greatest Hawks teams of all time, if not the best ever.
• Over the last five years, the average one seed in the East has finished with 59 wins. Based on that, Atlanta could go 18-14 over the remaining 32 and still claim the top spot in the East. It is amazing that it has been such a great start that playing slightly over .500 the rest of the way will get you the one seed.
Korver watch: .517 FG% / .532 3FG% / .920 FT%
If you hear or come up with your own cool stat about the Hawks, tweet to @peachtreehoops or directly at me at @themarkphelps or leave a comment. Use the hashtag #StatGeek on Twitter so we can all share in love of stats! I used basketball-reference.com's search engine for some of these stats. It's a useful tool.