The Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers are two of the worst teams in the NBA over the last two months. Some of that is due to injuries for the Hawks, and some of that is due to Philly being really young. If anything, the matchup on Monday was interesting because one team was guaranteed a win. The Hawks haven’t won a game since March 18th. Philadelphia lost 26 in a row before finally beating Detroit in their prior game.
As a Hawks fan, I fully expected for this to be an easy win. I needed an easy win after watching the Braves get shut out by the Brewers earlier in the day. I needed an easy win since I’m a CPA in the middle of tax season, and I’m leaving the office after 11-12 hour days. The Hawks didn’t listen, as this win was far from easy.
By the end of the first half, the Hawks were trailing by 10 and shooting 32% from the floor. That’s bad in the college ranks, but for a team of professional to shoot less than 35% from the floor is beyond unacceptable. The announcers at the break were barely acknowledging this as an actual basketball game. It was nothing more than a flailing disaster on hardwood in front of perhaps dozens of uninterested spectators. Believe me, that arena was rightly empty for two teams that each have 20+ losses since February. Still, as a professional you should be playing for pride at the very least, and for the Hawks there is a playoff berth on the line.
In the second half, the Hawks showed signs of life. They cut down on the stupid turnovers and shifted towards points in the paint. Also, Paul Millsap put the team on his shoulders and carried them for the entire third quarter. Paul had 9 points in that quarter, which gave the Hawks a two point lead heading into the final period. That really sparked the offense, and the Hawks suddenly started playing like the team we know can win games. Still, Philly wasn’t going to just let the Hawks run away with it. Both teams battled defensively until the last two minutes, with the Hawks leading by two.
With 1:45 left, Lou Williams came alive with a big 3 from the corner that extended the Hawks lead to 5. The Sixers answered with a 3 of their own. Lou then buried another three to move it back to 5. That was essentially the back-breaker. Williams really put the dagger in Philly with those two shots. None of this would have been possible without Paul Millsap, though. He was easily the player of the game with a double-double, 28 points and 17 rebounds, and Lou Williams grabs the honorable mention nod with his 22 points off the bench, and the threes that sealed the game late.
The Hawks end their six-game losing skid with the win against Philly, and they get a day off before facing the Bulls at home on Wednesday. They need to continue their winning ways in order to hold on to that 8th slot in the East, and a potential playoff bid.
Tags: Atlanta Hawks