Over roughly the last week or so, the Atlanta Hawks suffered a string of disappointing losses. Losing three straight home games is never fun, even if the opponents were the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Indiana Pacers, and the Golden State Warriors. Atlanta played reasonably well in every contest, but ended up on the losing side each time.
This week, the Hawks started to rebound from these performances, and even picked up a tiebreaker over the Toronto Raptors. Dennis Schroder also turned in some nice performances, and the Hawks began to look more focused after some frustrating losses. The team capped off the week with an impressive win over the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday night.
Several writers on this site have noted the Hawks’ increasingly difficult schedule in March and April, and last weekend’s games were an extreme example of the rising difficulty. A few different plays could have swung some of the contests — especially the game against Indiana — but the fact that the Hawks lost all three games was still frustrating. Home stands are supposed to be opportunities to pick up a few wins, but the Hawks ended up with exceedingly difficult opponents for this one.
To make matters worse, the Hawks also had to navigate rumors of locker room discord following the loss to Golden State. Schroder’s famous argument with Dwight Howard (that led to a Stephen Curry three-pointer) played into this narrative, and led some to question the team’s chemistry. Perhaps in response to questions about the locker room atmosphere, Schroder posted the following tweet early in the week:
Fortunately, the rumors seem to have quieted down after wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, and Memphis Grizzlies. A narrow win over the Nets isn’t terribly encouraging, but the Hawks turned in a strong performance against the Raptors on Friday night that could impact playoff seeding next month. With the tiebreaker over Toronto now, Atlanta has a better chance of getting home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
As a singular result, beating the Raptors (who don’t have Kyle Lowry right now) doesn’t mean that the Hawks have fixed all of their problems. At the same time though, rebounding from losses and frustration early on to win a key game later in the week is still encouraging. Even without Lowry, Toronto is still one of the better teams in the East, and losing this game would have put the fourth seed almost out of reach. The Hawks are still more likely to finish in fifth place, but the chance of home-court advantage for a playoff round is still feasibly within reach.
This week, Atlanta will play three games, and should have a shot at winning in all of them. The team will have to play in San Antonio on Monday, but there’s a decent chance that the Spurs will be without their two best players. The other two contests are home matchups against Memphis and Portland, two games that are both winnable. After a somewhat-disappointing home stand, this coming week provides another chance for the Hawks to build up some momentum.