The Atlanta Hawks would be in the 2014 NBA Playoffs if the regular season reached its conclusion today. However, through all of the injuries that this team has endured, it has really seemed as if they are holding on for dear life more than they are maintaining or improving their position heading into the postseason.
With Paul Millsap back in the lineup and Jeff Teague at relatively full health right now, though, the Hawks have been able to cling to their playoff life. They continued to do so on Saturday night as they earned a 97-92 over the Denver Nuggets, largely thanks to big efforts from both of their previously injured star players.
However, they also received a big boost from an unlikely source in 31-year-old rookie Pero Antic. Playing 24 minutes as the starting center, Antic gave the Hawks several much-needed flurries of offense as he finished the evening with 16 points on 6-12 shooting from the floor and 3-8 shooting from long-range. He added only two assists, one rebound and one steal to his line, but his scoring was big for Atlanta in picking up the victory on Saturday night.
As the Hawks head into this last five weeks of the regular season, Antic’s contributions could quietly be monstrous for them. We know that, more often than not, Millsap and Teague are going to get theirs, but this team won’t go anywhere without role players putting in their share night after night.
While Atlanta won’t necessarily need Antic to be a 15 points per game scorer every night, but they are almost definitely going to need night’s like the one he had on Saturday night from time to time. He’s quietly had a nice rookie year, but the Hawks need Antic to finish the year strong in the interest of their playoff hopes.