This season, the Atlanta Hawks are having a fight with mediocrity and mediocrity is winning.
“Decidedly average” no longer applies. The team as currently constructed is a sad shell of what it once could be.
The Hawks, losers of 14 of the last 15 games, are barely clinging onto the 8th playoff spot in the East, but due to the car wrecks in Detroit, Cleveland, and New York, Atlanta is still the odds-on favorite for that final spot, although that’s no proud badge of honor.
A major reason for the Hawks’ poor display this season? An astounding 0-17 road mark against teams currently above .500.
While success in the playoffs at this junction isn’t a major focus anymore, if Atlanta wants to at least pose the threat of a long postseason run in future seasons it suffices to say they’ll have to beat some good teams on the road in hostile environments.
The main culprit for the Hawks’ futile record has been a truly putrid defensive performance in recent weeks. Since January 12, the team has given up 106.3 points per game and has allowed their opponents to shoot 47.6% from field and an eye-popping 41.9% from the perimeter. Over this span of 22 games, Atlanta has held opponents to under 100 points only five times. Given that they have only logged six wins in these 22 games, the correlation seems clear. Injuries to the Hawks’ big men have left the paint available for rent, and opposing teams have certainly taken advantage of the open space there.
The indictment is clear and the reason for this slide begins and ends with the insurmountable amount of injuries. The 0-17 mark is merely an anomaly, but it is representative of the struggles that may lead to the worst Hawks season in nearly a decade.
As Pero Antic and Paul Millsap return to the lineup, there is hope on the horizon for the Hawks to right the ship and qualify for the playoffs for a seventh straight season. But in order to do so, it will take knocking off tough teams in even tougher environments.