The Atlanta Hawks saw a four-game road winning streak snapped on Monday but their recent success once again has them on the rise in this week’s NBA Power Rankings roundup.
Marc Stein moves the Hawks up three spots this week to No. 15 but cautions anyone who suggests that they are fixed.
The Hawks did win a couple of road games last week, but it'd be premature to say they're fixed. The victories in Oklahoma City and Denver, sandwiching an unsightly home loss to Minnesota, came by a total of just three points and required (A) Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap combining for 61 points in OKC and (B) more of the Nuggets' familiar late-game imprecision to clinch Atlanta's escape. It should be pointed out, though, that Atlanta has quietly won four in a row on the road and has had a few injury disruptions (Dwight Howard, Kyle Korver and Tim Hardaway Jr.) to its lineup of late.
With Dwight Howard out with a back issue, the Hawks had some success playing Paul Millsap at center last week. He scored 31 points and had the game-winner with a floor-spacing lineup in Oklahoma City on Monday. But they were more successful with Millsap playing alongside Mike Muscala, which is the look they went with as they closed Friday's game in Denver with a 9-0 run, capped by Millsap's game-winning free throws. The Howard-Millsap combo had some early struggles offensively, but is a plus-52 in 104 minutes over the last five games the two have played together.
Beat the Thunder, lost to the Wolves, stole one vs. Denver. Sure. OK, Atlanta. I continue to have the feeling Atlanta's going to wind up in a mid-tier playoff seed, with a team that scares no one in May. It just seems fated at this point.
Atlanta jumps five spots to No. 15 in Kurt Helin’s rankings over at Pro Basketball Talk.
Dwight Howard is expected back in the rotation Monday, but the Hawks won 2-of-3 without him beating the Thunder and Nuggets. They did it by going smaller for stretches, including Kyle Korver as the most deadly stretch four ever, and Paul Millsap looked great at the five spot. Also Dennis Schroeder seemed to have more driving lanes. Knicks, Piston, and Spurs come to Atlanta this week.
Finally, Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo bumps Atlanta up one spot to No. 16 this week.
Paul Millsap at center? Kyle Korver at the four? Dennis Schröder wrecking in December? With Dwight Howard banged up, maybe the small-ball Hawks are on to something…