The slumping Atlanta Hawks were finally able to snap their eight-game losing streak with a win over the New York Knicks on Saturday. After holding the third spot most of this season, Atlanta has fallen all the way down to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.
Is this streak a sign of things to come or just a temporary stumble? Here are the biggest takeaways from the losing streak.
The Hawks need an aggressive Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague was not playing aggressively during the losing streak. He averaged 11 points per game and only got to the line 13 times during the entire streak.
Teague is never going to be a lights-out shooter.
Attacking the rim should be his top priority. It is the strength of his game, as he displayed against the Knicks. He blew by Knick defenders in both the half-court sets and on one-man fast breaks.
His shooting chart from the game is below. Nine of his 12 shots came at the rim. Teague also attempted 15 free throws—more than he shot during the entire losing streak.
Obviously, Teague is not expected to score 28 points every game. However, if he plays with this aggressive mindset his all-around numbers will go up, and the Hawks will be a much more successful team.
Continued road struggles
The Hawks have been horrendous on the road this season (9-19). This trend continued on the streak as they lost five more games away from Atlanta.
They were outscored by a total of 25 points in the fourth quarter of the road games. Atlanta was only able to win one of five fourth quarters.
That one fourth quarter win was a double-digit loss to the Pacers, so it is not like they kept the game close in the end.
If the Hawks hope to have home-court advantage in the playoffs, they will need to improve their play on the road.
Injuries taking their toll
Al Horford was lost for the season months ago, but Atlanta has been hit hard by the injury bug again recently.
During the streak, Jeff Teague was forced to miss a game with an ankle injury (video above). DeMarre Carroll and Gustavo Ayon both missed three games. Pero Antic continues to miss time with an ankle injury as well.
The losing streak has finally come to an end, but the injury news never seems to stop.
Paul Millsap missed the game against the Knicks and will miss at least the next two games. Injuries have depleted Atlanta's roster, but Millsap, Ayon and Antic will be back soon. Hopefully, the Hawks will have more luck with injuries the rest of the way.
Can they turn things back around?
Luckily for the Hawks, they play in the terrible Eastern Conference. Even though they are three games under .500, they still have a four-game lead over the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot.
They have a friendly schedule the rest of the way, with 15 of their remaining 27 games against teams with records of .500 or worse. Making the playoffs should not be a problem. They will play .500 or better basketball the rest of the way.
Where will the Hawks end up?
The third seed was once theirs to lose, but it's a long-shot now. The Toronto Raptors have been a much better team since Horford went down.
The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets have also been better teams than the Hawks after getting off to slow starts this season. They have been more consistent recently and will most likely take the fourth and fifth seeds.
The injury to Nene Hilario will really hurt the Washington Wizards. He is a crucial player for them, and his production cannot be replaced by Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin. They are just 1-6 without Nene in the lineup this season.
The Hawks will finish above them and the Charlotte Bobcats for the sixth seed. The Bobcats have been a great story this year, but they lack the Hawks' experience and will falter a bit down the stretch.
All stats from NBA.com unless noted otherwise
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!