For the Atlanta Hawks, the 2017-2018 NBA season is officially over.
For much of the night, the Hawks were competitive against the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers but, at the end of an 82-game season, the superior team emerged victorious. JJ Redick scored 28 points, Ben Simmons was Ben Simmons (14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists), old friends Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova combined for 46 points in reserve duty and the Hawks succumbed to the visitors by a final score of 121-113.
The home team zoomed to a hot start and it came with a few highlights. Within the first handful of minutes, DeAndre’ Bembry produced a fast break, Taurean Prince knocked down a (very) deep three and John Collins... did John Collins things.
To that end, the Hawks used an 8-0 run to take a seven-point early lead and Prince continued his red-shot shooting with three long-range connections. From there, things cooled a bit but Atlanta took a five-point lead into the second quarter and that margin came on the strength of 54 percent shooting in the opening frame.
In a hurry, though, things flipped. The Sixers rolled to a 24-8 spurt to open the second quarter and, in the blink of an eye, Philadelphia led by 11 points. To Atlanta’s credit, the home team responded with 11 straight points to knot the score but the Hawks slowed down in the latter portion of the half and the end result was a 61-55 deficit.
Philadelphia had little trouble scoring before halftime, shooting 54 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three. The Hawks hung around thanks to 11 forced turnovers (against only three committed) but, in the same breath, the talent disparity was evident, especially when Atlanta went to its bench.
Still, Mike Budenholzer’s team battled and kept things manageable in the third quarter. Atlanta slashed the margin to two midway through the period and, despite an 8-0 run from the Sixers to regain control, there was no fade from the Hawks.
In the fourth, Philadelphia once again pulled away to the tune of a 13-point lead with less than seven minutes to go but the Hawks had other ideas. Atlanta scored seven straight points and, after some resistance, eventually trimmed the deficit to only five in the final minutes. Still, the Sixers were too much and the final margin settled at eight.
Taurean Prince led the way in scoring for the Hawks with 27 points, though he wasn’t particular efficient in making only 9 of his 25 shot attempts and 6 of his 18 (!) three-point attempts. In support, Tyler Dorsey scored 17 points (with four threes) off the bench, Dewayne Dedmon added 14 points and seven rebounds and John Collins (13 pints, nine rebounds) performed well.
The Hawks finish the season with a 24-58 record and will now await the result of various NBA results before looking ahead to May’s NBA Draft lottery and the potential of three first-round picks. Stay tuned throughout the offseason for extended coverage.