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Atlanta Hawks Weekly Wrap: Preparing for the Final Stretch

It’s almost time to start looking ahead to the playoffs

NBA: All Star Practice Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

ffbbbbbbbbThe NBA All-Star break takes place well after the true midway point of the season, but it serves as a nice (if somewhat arbitrary) sort of halfway mark for many discussion purposes. Add in the fact that the trade deadline is also looming on the horizon, and this next stretch of days looks even more important. At this season’s break, the Hawks’ path forward looks pretty clear.

The Hawks are projected by numerous models to finish with a 45-37 record, and a fifth-place finish in the East. This is a nice mark for the team, and takes into account the fact that Atlanta has a negative point differential and is about to face a much more difficult schedule from here on out. 45 wins is a nice mark for almost any franchise, and should be considered a success for the Hawks if they are able to reach it.

However, there’s a little more to this week than watching Paul Millsap play in the All-Star game and mentally preparing for more difficult games ahead. Atlanta isn’t going to deal Millsap at the trade deadline — we know this by now — but that doesn’t mean the team won’t look to make any moves. In fact, it’s possible that the team will look to buy at the deadline now.

Just what (if anything) the Hawks do by February 23 will be something to keep an eye on. The team has plenty of picks to play with, and any number of assets they could try to move. The problem here is trying to balance the future with winning in the short team. There aren’t any moves out there that give Atlanta a true chance at making the NBA Finals, so trading any picks or young players away to marginally improve this season’s squad would be a foolish move.

It also seems like an unlikely one. I wouldn’t rule out one or two small moves, but the Hawks most likely won’t trade any of their draft picks or prospects at this point (I think). However, until the trade deadline actually passes, it’s incredibly difficult to predict what this front office will do. The Kyle Korver trade seemed to signal a rebuild until the team quickly changed directions.

Since it’s All-Star week, the Hawks won’t play any games until Friday. The team will host Miami on the 24th, and then head south for a Saturday matchup with the Orlando Magic. While the schedule will get much more difficult soon after, these two should both be winnable games.

The Hawks have been an up-and-down team for most of the season, but at the trade deadline their path forward looks mostly clear. Barring any crazy moves, this is the squad that Atlanta will attempt to make a playoff run with. While the schedule is about to get considerably more difficult, the Hawks look primed to finish with the fourth or fifth seed in the East, and a moderately-impressive win total of 45.