December 28th, 2016: Knicks vs. Hawks (OT)
Two months into the season, this was arguably the game of the year. It was back and forth from the get-go, and the emotions were flying high throughout. Carmelo was ejected early for hitting Thabo in the face while battling for the rebound, which didn’t slow down the Knicks. The teams traded punches, figuratively and literally, down to the buzzer, and when that moment came, there was still more basketball to be played. The Hawks controlled overtime and came out of the game with a gutsy win.
Points: Dennis Schröder, 27
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 22
Assists: Paul Millsap, 6
December 30th, 2016: Pistons vs. Hawks
Last time the Hawks played the Pistons, they lost by 36 points. So this was a must win for the team. Atlanta took an 11-point lead into the locker room and never let up. Korver scored a season high 22 points and for one of the few times this season, the Hawks outscored their opponent with Korver on the floor. This also marked the 1st time in December that the Hawks won back-to-back games.
Points: Paul Millsap, 26
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 15
Assists: Dennis Schröder, 7
January 1st, 2017: Spurs vs Hawks (OT)
Happy new-year Hawks fans! The cliché saying, new year new me, must actually mean something to coach Bud, who notched his first ever win versus his old team and coach Popovich. This was easily the best game of the season. The teams were neck and neck throughout the game. With three seconds left Tim Hardaway Jr. made a huge three to tie up the game and send it to overtime. He then scored the Hawks first 8 points of OT on his way to a career high 29 points and a big win. The Hawks have made a habit of hitting the big shots and winning the close games this season, something they were incapable of doing for years prior. Of all of the wins this season, this one has to be the biggest confidence booster for the team; not only to extend their winning streak to three, but also to do so against one of the leagues elite teams.
Points: Paul Millsap, 32
Rebounds: Paul Millsap, 13
Assists: Dennis Schröder, 10
January 4th, 2017: Hawks vs. Magic
This game begins what may be the easiest stretch of games this season. After the matchup with the Magic, the Hawks play the Pelicans, Mavericks, and Nets, three of the worst teams in the NBA. After two taxing OT wins over quality team, this will be a much needed break from elite matchups and hopefully a few easy wins.
Last time the Hawks played the magic, Atlanta let up a brutal 131 points to the lackluster Magic offense. This time around, however, there would be no problem for the Hawks. This game was trademark Hawks basketball. Four of the starter scored in double digits, but none scored over twenty. They shot 52% from three-point range, which includes Kent Bazemore who went 3-3 from deep, a great sign for the struggling SF. Millsap, one of the best defender in the NBA, had 4 of the teams 12 steals. Also, Dennis Schröder, who led the team with 18, is the lowest leading scorer in a win since October. If that isn’t Hawks basketball, I don’t know what is.
Points: Dennis Schröder, 18
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 12
Assists: Kyle Korver, 7
January 5th, 2017: Hawks vs. Pelicans
The Hawks came out really sluggish and were down by 5 at the half. The 2nd half was an exciting battle, and it was coming down to the wire in the 4th quarter. Anthony Davis, who was held quiet for most of the game, led a Pelicans run to put them up by three. Dennis Schröder hit two big threes in the final few minutes, including the dagger with a minute to go.
Points: Dennis Schröder, 23
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 11
Assists: Malcolm Delaney, 8
January 7th, 2017: Hawks vs. Mavericks
Korver didn’t play in the Pelicans game, but this was the first game where he was officially traded. While it is a sad day for Hawks fans, his departure opens up opportunities for increased playing time for Tim Hardaway Jr, Taurean Prince, and Deandre Bembry. During this win streak, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been phenomenal, to say the least. He’s shooting well over 50% and has made a habit out of hitting the clutch shots when they matter most. This game was no different as Hardaway scored a team high 22 in his expanded role. With the recent success of Hardaway, the Hawks now have two legitimate most improves player candidates with Schröder and Hardaway.
The Mavericks are a hard team to watch. They are the lowest scoring team in the NBA, and ties with the Wolves for last place in the Western conference. The pain that an NBA fan endures watching Dirk Nowitski this season is reminiscent of watching Tim Duncan last season. His touch has disappeared and he has a hard time running up and down the floor. With him struggling, their #1 offensive option is Harrison Barnes, formerly the 4th option of the Warriors. No disrespect to Barnes, who I scoring almost 21 points per game, but he is not ready to be leaned on so heavily on the offensive end. With all that said, the Hawks only had a three point lead at the half. But in the second half, coach Bud’s defense suffocated the Mavs offense as they gave up just 82 points on their way to a cool 15-point victory.
Points: Tim Hardaway Jr. 22
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 20 (leading offensive rebounder in NBA)
Assists: Paul Millsap, 6
January 10th, 2017: Hawks vs. Nets
The Hawks are playing some really good basketball right now. They finished off the road trip 4-0, now to come back to Atlanta to play their rival Celtics. The Hawks just dominated the Nets from start to finish. The 35-point 1st quarter, in which the Hawks hardly missed, set the tone for the rest of the blowout win. Dwight Howard dominated this game, scoring 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Howards physical dominance down low has been a driving force of the season long 7-game win streak. Kris Humphries had his best game of the season with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Taurean Prince took full advantage of his increased playing time, filling up every column in the box score with 8 points, a steal, two blocks, and six rebounds. Malcolm Delaney was yet another bench player to perform well, scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting. When the Hawks got off to their hot start, it was in large part because of the success of their bench. It is great to see them finally getting back to that type of play. Another thing that should be noted is the defense of the Hawks. They had 11 steals and are now 3rd in the NBA in steals per game. If the Hawks defense keeps playing like this, the offense does not have to be at 100% all the time because the defense will make up for it.
Points: Dennis Schröder, 19
Rebounds: Dwight Howard, 16
Assists: Dennis Schröder, 10