Though the Atlanta Hawks finished the month of March with four losses in their last five games, it was an overwhelmingly positive 31-day period for the franchise. With that as the backdrop, Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan earned a league-wide honor on Thursday when he was named the Eastern Conference coach of the month.
Atlanta finished March with a 9-4 overall record that was tied for the third-best mark in the East. In those 13 games, the Hawks out-scored their opponents by 65 points (five per game) and, to begin the month, Atlanta won eight consecutive contests. Atlanta also allowed the Eastern Conference’s two lowest single-game scores during March, holding the Miami Heat to 80 points on March 2 and the Cleveland Cavaliers to 82 points on March 14.
The eight-game winning streak was the longest for the franchise since the 2014-15 season, and it also coincided with the end of the Lloyd Pierce regime and the start of McMillan’s tenure as the lead voice on Atlanta’s bench. That winning streak also featured five consecutive road victories, and McMillan became the first NBA coach to win his first eight games after an in-season change since the 2003-04 season.
This is the eighth time a Hawks coach has received a Coach of the Month honor and the first time since Mike Budenholzer won in January 2015. For McMillan, this is the seventh time he has won Conference Coach of the Month during his career.
At this stage, McMillan remains the head coach in an interim capacity but, after 13 games, his candidacy for the full-time role seems to be in a solid position.
It remains to be seen as to how the Hawks will finish the season, especially with continued injury issues plaguing the roster. Still, McMillan’s success in March helped to turn the team’s fortunes around from a full-season standpoint, and he was recognized for that work on Thursday.