23 games are in the books for the Atlanta Hawks, and the team sits firmly in the playoff mix with an 11-12 record. All things considered, the Hawks have weathered the injury-related storm in admirable fashion, operating without key pieces like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo throughout the season. That will continue in the coming weeks with word breaking that De’Andre Hunter will miss several weeks after a procedure on his injured knee, but the Hawks will press on, utilizing some of the famed depth compiled by Travis Schlenk and the front office during the offseason.
While Atlanta has 49 games remaining on the 2020-21 schedule, the majority of the “first half” of the season is in the books. Furthermore, the Hawks have exactly one three-day break on their first half schedule, and it’s happening at the time of this post. Atlanta knocked off the Toronto Raptors on Saturday evening and, before the team travels to face the Dallas Mavericks in a nationally televised match-up on Wednesday evening, there is extra time for some reflection.
To that end, we will take a quick glance at how some of the public-facing statistical projection systems are viewing the Hawks to this point. It is worth noting that the Hawks, at least according to winning percentage, have one of the ten easiest schedules remaining before the league’s All-Star hiatus but, without further delay, it is time to peek at a few models.
At this stage, FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR model is probably the most frequently referenced in the public sphere. It incorporates player evaluation — including some very positive numbers for John Collins and Clint Capela this season — into its calculations and, even if there is always some noise, these numbers are often interesting and revealing. At any rate, the Hawks are projected with a 72 percent to make the playoffs and a 2 percent chance to reach the NBA Finals.
While the RAPTOR model is focused heavily on player-level data, Elo projections “are a measure of team strength based on head-to-head results, margin of victory and quality of opponent.” Essentially, that means that Elo is focused on only what has transpired so far this season, and that explains why it would be lower on a Hawks team dealing with myriad injuries. It’s still strange to see Atlanta below the likes of Charlotte and New York. That’s worth saying out loud.
SportsLine — 38-34, 6th in East
This particular model is available only to subscribers, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Still, the CBS Sports-driven gambling model is relatively high on the Hawks, with a 75.8 (!) percent chance to win the Southeast Division and almost a 90 percent chance to make the playoffs in the East.
This isn’t all that rosy, but it comes with a projection of 81.2 percent to make the postseason. That’s (much) higher than most systems were before the season began.
This is essentially a “status quo” projection other than the fact that Toronto is projected to leap over Atlanta at some point along the way.
Atlanta has 13 games remaining in the first half, with only four contests at home and nine on the road. Following Wednesday’s tilt in Dallas, the Hawks will return home to face the San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers in a back-to-back at State Farm Arena on Friday and Saturday.