To say the Atlanta Hawks are struggling would be an understatement. This team is in free fall right now after losing 13 of their last 14 games, which currently includes a five-game losing streak after the Hawks’ latest defeat to the Golden State Warriors last night. While injuries have played their part in the Hawks’ recent losing streak, defense is the real problem.
Atlanta has allowed only two opponents out of a possible 14 to score under 90 points, and every other team minus one managed to get over the 100-point mark. Want to know the team’s record in games where opponents scored over 100 points? The Hawks are an unbelievable 0-11. Earlier in the season, with coach Mike Budenholzer‘s offensive system in place, Atlanta used to be able to match opponents with their scoring. However, this hasn’t been the case lately.
Opponents like Golden State are running the team off the floor with their offensive firepower, and the Hawks aren’t up to the challenge to stop them defensively. For example, the Warriors kept attacking the rim to score an impressive 66 points in the paint last night, but all Atlanta could do defensively was either foul them or just watch.
The Hawks were so bad they allowed the older Jermaine O’Neal to dominate down low. No disrespect to O’Neal, but at 35-years old, he should not be able to score 17 points and grab eight rebounds against this Atlanta team even without Al Horford. Elton Brand and the other big men have to do a better job defensively in the low post. It’s really hurting Atlanta’s chances of winning games when the interior of the defense gets destroyed almost every game.
However, the big men don’t deserve all the blame for the loss to Golden State and the recent losing streak. The guards and small forwards aren’t holding up their end on defense either. Jeff Teague did a great job against Stephen Curry last night, but besides this defensive effort, he’s been pretty bad defensively. Point guards are getting into the lane far too easily, which makes another defender have to step up, opening up the offense for opponents.
If the Hawks want to get back to their winning ways, defense is the solution to their problems. The offense isn’t having too much trouble scoring points and with Paul Millsap‘s return, it should get even better. Unfortunately, the losing might continue as Atlanta faces the Los Angeles Clippers on the road tonight.