Atlanta Hawks
(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Hawks have been extremely solid since the all-star break, especially on the defensive end.

It could probably be agreed upon that the 3 best teams in the East are the Nets, the 76ers, and the Bucks. After these 3 teams, many have said that there’s a large drop-off. I’m here to tell you that there’s one other team that should be considered among this list. Since the hiring of Nate McMillan, the Atlanta Hawks have emerged as an offensive powerhouse with increased intensity on defense.

Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers

What the Hawks have been able to do since the firing of Lloyd Pierce has been nothing short of remarkable. Pierce was fired when the team was 14-20, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. By the end of the regular season, they were 27-11 with McMillan, which was the 2nd best record in the East over that span. They also finished the season as the only team in the NBA with 9 players averaging 10 or more PPG.

While they only have one star, their depth compliments Trae Young’s abilities extremely well. His pick & roll game is probably the most effective in the league and leads to easy opportunities. Unlike other Hawks teams in the past, this one has become known for its outstanding defensive turnaround.

In this year’s playoffs, the Hawks are holding their opponents to 44% shooting, the 4th best out of playoff teams. They are also top 3 in defensive rating. With the interior presence of Clint Capella, the team is the 2nd best in opponent 2pt FG% and 3rd in blocks.

When the Hawks hit their 3s, they’re almost impossible to beat. In games where they’re shooting above 35% from 3 in the playoffs, they’re 4-0. When more than 3/4ths of your roster can pull up from deep it allows you to space the floor more, and this is what the Hawks do so well.

How Good are They?

Listen, no one’s saying this team is anywhere near the level of the Brooklyn Nets, but their series with the 76ers isn’t a lock, either. The 76ers will need to close out on 3’s much better and continue to defend the pick & roll as well as they did in game 2.

It pains me to write all of this as a Knicks fan, but it has to be said. This Hawks team is for real and they’ll be able to really compete if they get another star. I’ll always hate Trae Young, but I do respect the turnaround this Hawks team has had this season.

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