It was all good a week ago, when the Atlanta Hawks were returning from their 2-week, 7 game road trip out west with a 4-3 record. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who thought this team would escape that West coast trip with that record.
The Hawks finally returned home to their own beds and a 5 game home stretch to ease them into the All-Star break.
However, it appears that the Hawks left their defense on the road trip because on Thursday night the Hawks game out with guns blazing against the Raptors and then the 2nd half happened.
After putting up 68 points in the first half the Hawks came out and put up 17 and 16 points respectively in the 3rd and 4th qtrs. The Raptors who were playing without Kawhi Leonard showed while they are one of the premier teams in the East. NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 13 assists and Pascal Siakam owned the paint as he finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.
“The last 2 minutes and 43 seconds of the second quarter pretty much summed up what happened in the 2nd half. I thought we lost our way, we were up 17, a lot of one on one basketball, missed execution. We came out after the half and played a different style of basketball. – Coach Pierce
Coach Pierce Presser .. https://t.co/RoYKPsCqOR
— HawksBeat (@HawksBeat) February 8, 2019
Everyone has a bad night especially in the NBA so the thought is, that Toronto is a great team and they will rebound two days later when Charlotte comes to town.
This game had much of the same feel as the Toronto game with the exception that the Hawks didn’t come out guns blazing. It was Charlotte that came out and set the tone early putting up 46 points in the 1st quarter and quickly going up by 15 before the fans could get their popcorn.
Kemba Walker was Kemba Walker and he did whatever he wanted to all night long to the tune of 37 points. A very frustrated Coach Pierce said after that game that, “They didn’t feel us from the start and they didn’t feel us for the rest of the game.”
Every question that was asked always seemed to come back to lack of team defense as the major problem with this team. The Hawks currently are the worst in the league allowing points at 118.5 per game. For those keeping track at home, that means they are dead last.
“We’re not physical enough, we weren’t tough enough tonight, we weren’t together defensively. I think its the effort it’s the approach.” – Coach Pierce
Hawks fell to the Hornets 129-120 and surely things would be different the next night as the Orlando Magic came to town right?
For the 3rd time in as many games the Atlanta Hawks were unable to put 4 quarters of basketball together. The Hawks were outscored 37-23 and 35-26 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters respectively.
At one point in the 3rd quarter Coach Pierce removed his 5 starters earlier than usual because of their lack of production and effort.
“Everyone saw it, if you watching the game as a fan, it’s not fair for our fans to see us go down 25 at home and not really fight. It wasn’t really one guy, that unit that was out there, they struggled in the 2nd qtr and we struggled out of halftime.” – Coach Pierce
Here’s Trae Young in the locker room after the loss to the Magic.
The Hawks would go on to drop their 3rd home game in a row 124-108 and next up on the schedule is Lebron James and the Lakers on Tuesday night.
This is a young team and it is evident that they have hit a wall. It’s something that most rookies go through and because the Hawks are relying so much on their young guys (Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins) it’s not a far fetched idea that their focus is off, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Young and Collins are the top two players as far as minutes per game and they are asked a lot for 1st and 2nd year players. Their workload is something they can handle however it is obvious that this is part of a learning curve for the Hawks young leaders. These are the growing pains that this team much go through in order to get to the next level.
Coach Pierce appears to be the perfect level headed guy to lead this young team with his defensive approach and philosophy. He is built for the long haul because he never appears to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows.
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