The Atlanta Hawks aren’t worried about who they will face in the Play-In Tournament next week.
“I feel like we can beat anybody in this league,” John Collins told the NBA TV crew after helping to secure the 134-116 victory. “We just have to lock in and do our jobs, stay together.”
Collins pitched in 23 points on 75% shooting from the floor and from beyond the arc while also knocking down all eight of his free throws. The sixth-year man is averaging 14.9 points and knocking down 41.5% of his threes with 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over the last 11 games.
“I feel like…a good chunk of our roster from that playoff run gives us that battle-tested mentality as well as us having to win the Play-In,” Collins said. “We have some experience in these big pressure games and situations. So it’s really just about locking in and understanding what we need to do on that night to win and coming together.”
The Hawks snapped a 32-game trend in which they were within one game of a .500 record.
They still have an outside chance at either the six-seed or the nine-seed but are 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the former and one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the latter.
Atlanta posted a winning record versus the Raptors this season and split their four-game series with the Bulls. They were 1-3 against Miami so, if there is a matchup that they should look to avoid, this is it.
Atlanta Hawks finally getting Quin Snyder’s scheme, says John Collins
The Hawks began the Quin Snyder era 6-8 but are closing strong winning three straight and four of their last five games.
“It never happens as fast we’d all like it to,” Collins admitted via the atlhawksfans YouTube channel. “I feel like some of his words – his emphasis on what he wants us to do offensively, defensively – is starting to rub off. It’s not something that you can put in overnight. But as you’ve been seeing he’s starting to implement more of just him into our system, into our organization.”
Collins has seen his fair share of turmoil as the longest-tenured Hawks player.
They are on their fourth head coach and second lead executive since Collins was drafted 19th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
After Nate McMillan was dismissed coming out of the All-Star break, the Hawks moved quickly to hire and install Quin in the captain’s chair for the rest of the season, the Play-In, and perhaps the playoffs.
“It’s nice to see it paying off,” Collins said. “We’re jelling and flowing well, and we’re going to continue to follow Coach.”
This continues a trend of positive early reviews on Snyder who has also gotten second-year forward Jalen Johnson playing with a rejuvenated air of confidence as he tied his career high with 16 points for the second game in a row. Synder has also gotten rookie AJ Griffin back into a groove at a time when the Hawks are missing De’Andre Hunter.
The performances from Saddiq Bey only serve to enhance the positive vibe.
At this point, Quin and the Hawks are playing with house money. Teams that fire their head coaches midseason don’t often find themselves in the thick of a playoff race like the Hawks and Brooklyn Nets have this season.
To Collins’ point, the Hawks do have experience working under similar circumstances. And the last time it happened, they rode that spark all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.