Numerically, the true halfway point of the 2016-17 NBA season has long passed. It still makes sense to think about the All-Star break as a sort of dividing line between parts of the season though, and the Hawks got off to a terrible start to this portion of the year this week. The trades the team made were fine overall, but Atlanta looked flat and listless on back-to-back nights this weekend.
In terms of the trade deadline, the week was mostly quiet for Atlanta. The team traded second-round picks for Ersan Ilyasova, moved Mike Scott to the Phoenix Suns, and announced plans to sign Lamar Patterson and Ryan Kelly. The number of names on this list is somewhat large, but the overall impact should be negligible. Nothing the Hawks did around the deadline appears likely to change the course of the season.
The relative inactivity doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Since the team has been firm and clear about its plans to retain Paul Millsap, nearly every move aimed at rebuilding was ruled out as well. The Hawks also have shown a commitment to keeping future assets (picks and prospects) locked down for the future, meaning that most “win-now” moves would not work, either. Atlanta didn’t make any amazing or terrible moves this week, making it a pretty forgettable trade deadline from that perspective.
In terms of games though, this week was disappointing. The Hawks’ schedule gets much more difficult in the next few weeks, but matchups with the Miami Heat (Friday) and Orlando Magic (Saturday) both looked like winnable games. They were not, as everyone knows by now, and Atlanta looked pretty flat in each contest.
While it certainly wasn’t the reason the Hawks played so poorly this weekend, Dennis Schroder’s suspension and benching also raise some eyebrows. The entire saga (so far) seems more weird than anything else, especially given the playoff push Atlanta is gearing up to make. Schroder is one of the most important players on the roster, and his status for future games hopefully won’t be in doubt.
Taken as a whole, this wasn’t the best week for the Hawks. The team got marginally better at the deadline, which is commendable, but losing these two games to sub-.500 opponents is a bad look coming out of the break. Even if these two games are just another sign of the Hawks’ general inconsistency this season, this is a subpar start to the next segment of the season.
This week, some of the more difficult games will start to come up. Atlanta plays at Boston on Monday, and then faces two home contests against Dallas (Wednesday) and Cleveland (Friday). Playing the top two teams in the East will be a difficult task, even with a much easier Mavericks team sandwiched in the middle. The schedule gets even more packed and crowded after that, as the truly brutal part of the March and April schedule emerges.