The Atlanta Hawks (30-35) suddenly look like they have turned the corner from a 1-14 slide. With a 97-83 win last night in Charlotte against the Bobcats, the Hawks have put together a four-game winning streak that is firming up their positioning for the NBA playoffs.
The win is significant for a couple of reasons:
- It came on the road. The Hawks were an ungainly 10-24 on the road before last night's win. Any win on the road, regardless of the opponent, is a good one. In this case, the Hawks led almost the entire way despite being away from Philips Arena.
- It came against another likely playoff team. Granted, the Bobcats aren't world-beaters, but they are ahead of Atlanta in the standings. With last night's win, the Hawks sit 1.5 games back BUT are tied in the loss column with Charlotte. Charlotte (33-35) had won eight straight at home, so beating them wasn't the easiest of tasks.
- The Hawks got stronger later in the game. Atlanta held Charlotte to just 31 total points in the second half and just 29% shooting in that half. On the offensive end, the team did not have a significant scoring drought (as had been the case in every game as of late). The team was aggressive and had energy from wire to wire.
- The Hawks are getting healthier. With Paul Millsap and Pero Antic back on board, the Hawks may finally be turning the corner on stamina issues and lack of offensive weapons. Millsap brutalized the Bobcats with 28 points and Antic had an 11/10 night to post another double-double. On defense, the duo held up well as Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker were limited to forcing the ball up from deep, resulting in few good shots.
The Hawks return home tonight to face the Toronto Raptors (37-28) at 7:30 PM. The Raptors have lost nine of their past 11 games at Philips Arena, but sit in third place in the East. They are seven games ahead of the Hawks, so the field is still bunched very tightly from third through eighth.
It is worth noting, though, that none of those teams would make the playoffs if they were in the Western Conference. The eight-seed there, Memphis, has a 39-27 record and a .591 winning percentage.