The Atlanta Hawks are free-falling down the eastern conference standings at the worst possible time. With the playoffs approaching, the Hawks recent performance has them destined for a quick first round exit if their current play is any indication.
Now, some of the Hawks’ latest struggles can be attributed to injuries from key players, such as, Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, and, most critically, all-star forward Paul Millsap. Atlanta’s record in games without Millsap is a putrid 2-9.Yet, their recent losing ways indicate the problems are deeper than losing a couple of starters for a few games.
There is something the Hawks have lacked throughout this skid and that is bench depth which is to be expected when three starters are missing. As the grind of a long season is beginning take its toll on players who log heavy minutes, it’s crucial for the bench to step up. This is where Atlanta’s struggles have been magnified. The bench unit has been led by Tim Hardaway Jr., but with injuries mounting he has been forced into the starting lineup. The absence of Hardaway’s scoring has left the bench in shambles which affects the team as a whole. As key players begin to return from injury, the bench unit should began to improve right in time for the playoffs.
Currently, Atlanta is the No.6 seed which is a far cry from where they should be if not for their recent struggles. They have lost 8 of their past 10 games including a loss at home against the Brooklyn Nets who happen to have the worst record in the NBA. Before their recent struggles, the thought of the Hawks missing the playoffs seemed nearly impossible. Now it has become a possible reality as they only sit two games above the eight seeded Miami Heat. If Atlanta doesn’t fix their problems soon they could find themselves watching the playoffs from home. With six games remaining on their schedule it is crucial for Atlanta to finish out the season strong.