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5 Stats Looking to the Playoffs and Millsap's Surge

Assists have not been kind to Atlanta in the past week, but limiting turnovers and Paul Millsap's surging play could help the Hawks gear up for the playoffs.

Millsap's play could be a key to playoff wins for the Hawks.
Millsap's play could be a key to playoff wins for the Hawks.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We're a little late this week with the Stat Geek Five, so we'll cover five games instead of the usual three or four.  After squeaking out some good rest wins, the shorthanded Hawks were demolished by the Klay-less Warriors, then couldn't get over the hump against the Thunder, resulting in a mediocre 3-2 week though the positive is a magic number of three going into today's San Antonio matchup.  Let's give you the bad news first.

1. Crying foul? The refs are. Fouls are up for the Hawks.

The Hawks lead the league in fewest fouls by a significant margin, so this is a somewhat disturbing trend.  Atlanta has committed 20 fouls in a game only 21 times this season - and three were in these five games.  Three times this month the Hawks have allowed at least 25 free throws and opponents have converted 70 of 84 (83%).  The only saving grace is the Hawks did it against mostly lesser competition and were able to win two of those three.  When it happens against a top opponent, Atlanta can lose big.  Our luck was that the Warriors, normally a great free throw shooting team, only made 12-of-20. Unfortunately, what we saw on Wednesday was...

2. The Hawks were the victim of a spectacular assist showing by the Warriors.

The Hawks are not a great team at limiting assists for opponents.  In fact, they are in the bottom five of the NBA.  Golden State is a great assist team - number one in the NBA.  Put those two stats together and you end up with bad news for the Hawks.   Golden State finished with 39 assists on 44 made baskets - an 88.6% assist percentage.  Only 10 teams since 2000 have had a higher assist percentage while making at least 35 field goals (If you're curious, Chicago had the highest since 2000, assisting on 97% of their made baskets in a LOSS against Portland in 2001).  Despite those points, the Hawks do have some positives to glean, such as...

3. Even though assists are down, Assist/Turnover ratio is up.

Atlanta is a great assist/turnover team at a 1.88:1 assist/turnover ratio, good enough for 3rd in the league.  Over these last five games, it has been 1.97:1.  Simply put, Atlanta has been protecting the ball at a top-class rate.  On the season, the 13.5 turnovers the Hawks commit per game is only good enough to be in the middle of the pack, but during this week's games the Hawks only averaged 11.8, which would be good enough for second in the NBA.  Assists will come back up once the team returns to full strength, but if the Hawks can keep from turning over the ball, this could be a great stat in the playoffs when easy baskets are harder to come by.  And speaking of playoffs...

4. Paul's rest has him gearing up for the postseason.

We've all heard how Paul Millsap is not a fan of sitting during games, but even he couldn't deny how it is producing results.  In the last five games (he only played four), he has shot 53 percent from the field and 47 percent from three! Compare that to the previous five games he played, where he shot 48/33, which is close to his season average. All this rest could be really helping Paul (and all the starters) and could be the key to playoff wins, though...

5. Austin Daye could be a decent stopgap in the meantime.

Jarrell Eddie, we hardly knew ye.  The Hawks quickly moved on from Eddie, who played with San Antonio's D-League affiliate, and picked up Austin Daye, who has played with the Spurs themselves.  During his tenure with San Antonio, Daye shot 36 percent from three and has showed he can be a pretty competent defender.  In his six minutes against Golden State, he hit a three, had two rebounds, one assists, and was +10.  Obviously this was garbage time, but anyone getting out of that game with a positive +/- is worth another 10-day contract.  Here's to hoping he gets another and we get a longer look at him.  He was in San Antonio's locker room for their title run last year, and could give an interesting perspective should we carry him into the playoffs.   And who in the NBA can't use another wing defender?

Korver watch: .496 FG% / .501 3FG% = / .902 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. I used basketball-reference's search engine for some of these stats.  Check out old columns of the Stat Geek Five here!