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3 Hawks Causes of Concern and 2 Rays of Hope

The Stat Geek Five looks at a few causes for concern as well as a couple of rays of hope after Atlanta's past two games.

Pero's return to shooting form could boost Atlanta's spacing.
Pero's return to shooting form could boost Atlanta's spacing.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta had a 1-1 week since the last Stat Geek Five and I think we all learned a few things about the Hawks:

1. The Hawks have to start making other teams play the Atlanta way.

During the three game losing streak, perhaps the most unsettling stat was the fact that the defensive-minded Hawks allowed three straight games giving up at least 110 points in each (against admittedly good teams).  This was the first time all season we had three such games in a row, and it resulted in the longest losing streak for first-place Atlanta.  As we touched on last week, fouls are up as well.  The Hawks are a top 10 team in defense, but if that isn't asserted upon the other teams, a usually stingy Atlanta squad can lose big, such as the San Antonio game where a 19 point loss came at the end of a very reasonable 48 percent shooting effort.  Not only do the Hawks the need to get other teams to play their way on defense...

2. The Hawks have to start making other teams play the Atlanta way (on offense too).

Atlanta has also been surprisingly lackluster on the offensive end (and yeah, they're top 10 in offense too).  Before the All-star break, the Hawks passed 100 points in 69 percent of their games.  After the break, that's only happened 41 percent of the time.  That's been pretty telling because that 28 percent drop has resulted in a 15 percent drop in win percentage (80 percent before and 65 percent after).  Before the All-star break, the Hawks had seven games where they committed 10 turnovers or less.  Since?  Zero.  Before February, Atlanta only had three games where they had less than 20 assists.  In February and March, they've already had four.   The Hawks have fallen to 14th in fastbreak points per game, and those easy transition buckets can really jump start an offense.  When Atlanta gets back to its high-octane offense, those easy baskets might come.   Of course, part of the problem is...

3. Health.

Don't get me wrong with all of the scary stats above -- it's not time for panic mode yet.   The season is winding down and the injury bug has bit the Hawks.  The injuries to Korver, Sefolosha, and Scott had Atlanta frustrated during several games, signing backup Austin Daye for wing depth.  Teague tweaked his ankle on Wednesday but did return to the game (Kris Willis reported here he will be taking the Miami game off). When Korver returned, the mask clearly bothered him enough to be ripped  off in frustration against Orlando. I can't bring up how health has negatively impacted the Hawks without mentioning a positive that is somewhat related:

4. Health!

Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha are back, Mack has been back for a bit, and Mike Scott should only be one to three weeks away, which would put the Hawks at full strength if Teague's ankle isn't too bad.  Many teams have it a lot worse right now (see: Timberwolves, Pelicans, Thunder), so having weathered most of that storm will have the Hawks feeling like they're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Combine that with an easier schedule (between now and next week's column, we have Miami, Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Detroit - the 8 seed sparring party, even though the games are crammed together), and the Hawks should look to pick up their two wins to take the home court this week.  And lastly, but never least...

5. Pero Antic has been ballin'!

Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but every Hawks fan should be squealing with delight at Pero's play over these two games. Small sample set? Sure, but when Pero can hit, Atlanta's spacing gets very comfortable.  Antic is 12 of 19 in his last 3 games.  His previous 19 shots? Those came over six games where he only connected on four makes.  Atlanta is 7-2 when Antic scores in double digits.   If this is a sign of things to come, expect opposing centers to drag their shot-blocking butts out to the three-point line, giving lanes to Atlanta's quick-cutting guards.

Korver watch: .494 FG% ▼ / .499 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!