The Atlanta Hawks need an aggressive John Collins

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks have made the Conference Finals, having vanquished the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in their second-round matchup. They did this mainly on the back of the tremendous play of Trae Young. However, no team can win a seven-game series based on one player.

The Hawks had several other players step up during the series. Bogdan Bogdanovic was special early on before hurting his knee. This meant that Kevin Huerter stepped up to be Young’s wingman and he did a tremendous job late in the series.

Clint Capela had his hands full all season. He really struggled to defend Joel Embiid, often being on the receiving end of incredible plays from the 76ers center. Then Dwight Howard would come on and man-handle the Hawks’ second unit. This was at least until Onyeka Okongwu started to blossom into the player he will be.

The Atlanta Hawks first unit needed an aggressive John  Collins.

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In the first-round matchup against the New York Knicks, Reggie Bullock was trying to bully Trae Young. John Collins was the first to step in between the two, giving their team leader backup, showing the Knicks that they could not push his teammates around.

Then, when the 76ers series got a bit heated, it was none other than Collins that was in the thick of it. When Embiid was throwing his weight around, Collins got up in his face, letting him know that the Hawks would not be bullied. Both players got assessed technical fouls for this in Game 6 but it was worth it.

In Game 7, when Simmons was starting to talk trash, Collins got up in his face and the 76ers point guard backed down. However, it was his rebounding and putback dunks that changed the complexion of games.

In the fifth game of the series, Collins made a play that changed the momentum of the series. His putback dunk quietened the crowd and energized the Hawks. If Collins had not made this play then it could have been a five-point swing. The Hawks only won this game by three points.

Then, in Game 6, Collins finished a perfect assist from Young with this beauty over the top of Embiid.

The Hawks would go on and lose the game, but the 76ers knew they were in a fight. When Collins was aggressive, the Hawks looked a totally different outfit. They are going to need this to continue if they are to beat the Milwaukee Bucks. He needs to be Dr. Jekyll in the next series, not Mr. Hyde.

Next. The Hawks need a secondary facilitator. dark