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Growing Pains For the Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks came back from their offseason with a bang where they started 3-0, one of only two teams who remained undefeated three games into the season. Even after their first loss against the Brooklyn Nets they took their victory right back blowing the Nets away just two days later. Unfortunately, the Hawks could not keep their momentum up and ended up falling behind, losing four straight games in a row. 

The Hawks fulfilled all hopeful expectations coming back this season with the best offense in the league, heavily based on their shooting and free-throw improvements. They have been averaging 123.7 points per 100 possessions and lead the NBA with a free-throw rating of 35% and a true shooting percentage of 63.5. Atlanta’s drive and skill this season has been immaculate, so to see them fall behind after such a strong start was hard to comprehend. 

So…what happened? Every one of Atlanta’s major off-season acquisitions were injured and unable to play by the second half of that last loss on January 9th against the Charlotte Hornets. Being short-handed with a shaky offense full of missed shots is enough to fall behind real quick. As well as an off-balance offense, the effort fell short with an exception to that last loss to the Hornets where they did indeed play hard but were unable to make shots. 

The Hawks are good and have made an incredible comeback this season, but not good enough to where they can afford to lose this many games in a row. Though their defense was also at fault, we have seen worse defensively from them overall. The main issue was their inability to perform offensively and make those shots. Thankfully, the team did break out of this funk and got that expected win against the Philadelphia 76ers this week. 

The Hawks still have their established young duo Trae Young and John Collins, but things haven’t been as positive between the two recently. Collins had some not so happy opinions on the way Young has been running the offense. He elaborated by saying that there needs to be more of a limit with all of the early shot-clock attempts. Collins also explains his frustration with his desire to have more ball involvement and flow on the offense that has been restrained due to Young. 

How can the Hawks get back on track and make their team cohesive again? Young needs to take Collins’ opinions into consideration and make more of an effort to create field goal opportunities for his teammate. Collins needs this duo back in order to facilitate these plays and get involved more offensively if they want to stay consistent and aggressive. This team has what it takes to go all the way this season, it would be a shame to see them fall short. 

Onto a positive note, the Hawks seem to have a breakout player this season that has proved to be a revelation on the court. This small forward player goes by the name De’Andre Hunter. Hawks  coach Lloyed Pierce even describes Hunter as being the team’s best defender. He has excelled with his rebounds, blocks, steals, and has been able to play aggressive enough to get to the rim with ease. He is currently averaging 16.3 points, 2.1 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

Though the team took a step back and worried Atlanta fans everywhere, the confidence that they will still fight their way into the playoffs is still as strong as ever. The Hawks were set to play the Phoenix Suns this past Wednesday, but it unfortunately had to be postponed due to health and safety protocols. They are all set to play the Utah Jazz tonight so now we must sit back and pray that they can keep their momentum going and get that win. 

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