The Atlanta Hawks have moved from fighting to get into the playoffs to fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Yes, it appears the Hawks are no longer slumping as they managed to put together some wins since the all-star break.
Also, the Hawks are getting healthy at the right time for this late season playoff push. So without making you wait any longer, lets take a look at this special trade deadline edition of the power ranking roundup.
NBA.com — No. 13
Nate McMillan remains perfect (8-0) as Hawks coach and his team ranks second defensively over the winning streak, with their win over the Lakers on Saturday being the fourth time in the eight games that they’ve held their opponent under a point per possession (they did so six times in 34 games under Lloyd Pierce). The context: Five of the games have come against five of the six lowest-ranked offenses in the league, the highest-ranked offense they’ve played is that of the 10th-ranked Kings, and the 15th-ranked Lakers lost LeBron James early in the second quarter on Saturday. Tougher tests are coming as their eight-game trip continues this week.
The Hawks blew a 23-point lead in Houston on Tuesday, but survived with an 8-0 run in which John Collins (averaging 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over the winning streak) grabbed two huge offensive boards that led to five of the eight points. Collins’ contract situation (he’s a restricted free agent this summer), along with the presence of Clint Capela, makes him a hot name with the trade deadline on Thursday, but he’s been both versatile (playing the four and the five) and durable (playing in all 42 games) this season. The Hawks have outscored their opponents by 15.5 points per 100 possessions in 190 minutes with a frontline of Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela, and Nathan Knight gave them some great minutes when Capela was out for a couple of games last week, but rookie Onyeka Okongwu has yet to earn real playing time.
ESPN — No. 13
Atlanta continued its winning ways under new interim coach Nate McMillan, with a win over the Lakers on Saturday marking its eighth straight. McMillan’s eight wins are the most for an interim coach after taking over for a team since Lawrence Frank started 13-0 for the New Jersey Nets in 2003-04. The Hawks are also doing it in a variety of ways, including stepping up their defense. Since McMillan took over on March 2, the Hawks have the league’s second-best defensive rating at 105.2.
CBS Sports — No. 12
Fire up the Nate McMillan Coach of the Year campaign! Say what you want about the schedule, which got even softer when LeBron James left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, but you don’t win eight games in a row unless something’s going right within your organization. The most encouraging part is that the Hawks are doing this with Trae Young being kept relatively under wraps as a scorer — he averaged a pedestrian 16.7 points on 16 percent 3-point shooting this week, but dished out 11.3 assists per game. Danilo Gallinari continues to find his form, averaging 18.3 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting this week, and De’Andre Hunter should be returning to the court any day now. Things are finally looking up in Atlanta.
This past month has to make Hawks fans feel excited about this team. After struggling prior to March, the Hawks appear to have pulled something together.
If this trend continues, fans can start to visualize this team playing in the postseason.