After another defeat last night, the Atlanta Hawks are now in serious danger of missing the NBA Playoffs. The New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers are quickly gaining ground due to Atlanta’s recent five-game losing streak and find themselves within three games of the No. 8 seed with 11 games left to play. Unfortunately, if things don’t get turned around soon, the Hawks will not make the playoffs.
Their stretch of play over the last few months has been abysmal. Since the beginning of February, the team has managed to go a mere 7-19. Atlanta went from controlling the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference at that point only to drop all the way down to their current standing. Injuries have certainly played their part in the struggles, but there’s no excuse for the lack of execution on both ends of the floor of late. Plenty of players have managed to stay healthy, which means the offense and defense should not be as bad as they are at the moment.
The offense is just now starting to underachieve, but the defense has been terrible for quite some time. Over the last 26 games, the Hawks’ defense allowed 19 opponents to score 100 points or more. Want to know how many games they won out of those 19 games? A whopping three and one of them was in overtime. In order to win games in this league, you can’t afford for your defense to give up that many points. This is especially true in the Eastern Conference where teams are a lot more defensive-minded such as the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.
Atlanta has shown before that it is capable of locking opponents down as evidenced by their play earlier in the season. However, the time is now for that same team to show itself again. That goes for the offense, too. The Hawks still have the firepower to outscore teams, but they need to help themselves with a better effort on the defensive end. Atlanta is in full control of their own destiny, and if things can change in a hurry this team will still make the NBA Playoffs.