The Hawks finished the first half of the season 32-24, 2.5 games behind the Wizards for the lead in the Southeast division and 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are eight games above .500 despite being outscored by 0.5 points per game. This team has won a lot of close games and lost a lot of blowouts. Every game, a different Hawks team shows up, and it is impossible to know which one it will be. Will it be the Hawks who beat the Cavaliers, Rockets, and Spurs? Or will it be the Hawks who were embarrassed by the Jazz, Pistons and Raptors? Atlanta now has 26 games left to figure out which team they want to be in the playoffs.
In the remaining schedule the Hawks have to play the Cavaliers three times, the Celtics, Pacers, and Grizzlies twice, and the Spurs and Warriors once. These last few months will have lots of big games that will help get the Hawks ready for the playoffs. There are still a few days left before the trade deadline, and it would be extremely helpful for the Hawks to try to trade for a playmaker for this offense that can sometimes be unwatchable. In my last article I explained how helpful Melo would be to the Hawks, and he should still be in play. After seeing how easily the Pelicans got Demarcus Cousins, there is a good chance that Carmelo will be traded for a lower cost.
The first game back is Friday, February 24th when the Hawks take on the Heat. There are then three more games before the blockbuster matchup between the Hawks and Cavaliers in Atlanta. The Hawks handed the 7-0 Cavs their first loss of the season back in November, and this will be the first time they have met since then. In two straight seasons the Cavaliers have swept the Hawks in the playoffs, so these matchups against the Cavs hold a little extra weight for Atlanta. Three days later the Hawks welcome the Warriors to Philips Arena. Back in November the Hawks lost by just five to the star-studded Warriors, giving the Warriors one of their biggest challenges of the season. The Hawks will also play the Spurs again, whom they beat in January. This team can compete with anyone in the NBA when they are at their best, but that does not happen every night. The biggest question of this final stretch of the season will be if the LeBron and Kawhi Leonard beating Hawks will show up or not. If they do, the Hawks could have 20+ wins, but if they don’t play that well the Hawks could play below .500 basketball.