John Collins was crucial for the Atlanta Hawks in his return

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The last time that John Collins played for the Atlanta Hawks was on the 11th of February. In the seven games since then, the Hawks have a 4-3 record. Other players have stepped up like Danilo Gallinari who moved into the starting lineup and Delon Wright who sacrificed his game for the good of the team.

While Collins is difficult to replace long term because of everything that he does for this team, seven games was not a massive problem. However, had Collins not come back against the Washington Wizards, there is a good chance that the conversation could have been very different after the game.

The biggest problem is that the big man stocks were getting very thin for the Hawks. Onyeka Okongwu missed the Chicago Bulls game due to being in the NBA concussion protocols. This meant that the Hawks had to use Gorgui Dieng over the last two games and he showed us against the Boston Celtics why he has been out of the rotation.

The Atlanta Hawks needed what John Collins gave them.

While Collins’ numbers don’t jump off the page, it was when he did things that made all the difference for the Hawks. While Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter were huge all game, Collins came up with some good plays down the stretch to help ice the game for the Hawks.

When the Wizards looked like they were coming midway through the last period, Collins created a mismatch in the paint. In true Collins style, he made the bucket and gave the Hawks some momentum. Not long after this, when the Wizards were coming at the Hawks, it was Collins who blocked a layup, helping the Hawke preserve their lead.

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His full stat line for the game was nine points, six rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in just 25 minutes on the court. Looking at the stat sheet you would say he eased back into it. Looking at the game it was Collins who took the pressure off Young at the end of the game which helped the Hawks win.