Losers of three straight, what will it take for the Atlanta Hawks to improve?
It has been a tough few days for Atlanta at Philips Arena. The Hawks home stand so far has resulted in three tough losses in a row heading into Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn. A comeback bid fell short against Cleveland followed by a buzzer beating loss to Indiana.
Last nights loss to Golden State came with further ramifications though in my opinion. An argument between Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard resulted in Dennis being benched for all but three minutes of the second half. It’s possible many (including myself) will read too far in this but the truth of the matter is the Atlanta Hawks need to keep it together heading into postseason play.
1. Dennis has to play with a cool-head.
Dennis Schroder is a young, passionate, and talented player. He will be a fixture in Atlanta for years to come. His maturation process has not been without hiccups but for Atlanta to play at their best they need a mature Dennis. Players like Isaiah Thomas especially have been able to get in his head in the past. Playoff basketball is tough, but the valuable experience gained last season will serve Dennis as he works to keep his emotions in check. The Hawks need Dennis to play at a very high level throughout the rest of the year.
2. Atlanta’s pickups need to provide valuable minutes.
The acquisition of Ersan Illyasova and the recent addition of Jose Calderon must pay dividends. Ersan has been a little up and down but he’s already shown scoring ability for this team. For the Hawks to have a shot at a playoff run Jose Calderon must provide more off the bench than Malcolm Delaney. If he can stuff the stat sheet and lift pressure off Dennis it will put the Hawks in a much better position.
3. This team has got to fight for it.
With 10 of 19 remaining games against playoff opponents it won’t be easy. Atlanta is currently four games behind Washington for a coveted third seed and the chance to avoid Cleveland in the second round. The Atlanta Hawks have the veteran guys who want it. These players have to step up and provide a spark down the stretch run. Gaining momentum before the playoffs is a huge key to success. We’ll see if the Hawks can take advantage.