After going 1-5 on this trip, the Hawks will be home for the next two. Hopefully they can turn things around after only winning three games since the start of February. Here are the takeaways from the Hawks trip out West.
Paul Millsap Returns, Comes Up Big Against His Old Team
After missing five games with a knee injury, Paul Millsap made his return against the Golden State Warriors. The Hawks desperately needed the All-Star's presence inside.
He played limited minutes in his return, but was back up to his normal workload in the next two games. His impact was instantly noticed in the win over his old team, the Utah Jazz, and the nail-biting loss against the Clippers.
According to Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore, Millsap said he should be booed in his return to Utah.
Paul Millsap on return to Utah Monday: "They should boo me. I’m on the opposing team." #ATLHawks— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) March 9, 2014
However, the Utah Jazz are a very classy organization and have a respectful fan base. They gave him and the other former Jazz players a warm reception. Millsap was even given a video montage.
Utah Jazz will run a video tribute tonight thanking Paul Millsap for his time with the Jazz— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) March 10, 2014
Millsap did not disappoint against his old team, he scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. With Al Horford out, the Hawks can't afford Millsap to miss anymore time.
Jeff Teague Shines then Regresses
The Jeff Teague roller coaster ride continues. He can go from looking like an elite NBA point guard one day and then look like he barely belongs on the court the next.
As I mentioned in a recent article, Teague started off the trip playing great. He was playing aggressively and scored over 20 points in four straight.
However, he scored 10 points or less in three of the last four games and blew the game-tying free throws against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Part of his struggles could be due to his cotton swab use. This is no joke; according to Sports Illustrated, he lost hearing in his left ear.
Hawks' Jeff Teague learns the dangers of using cotton swabs on your ears http://t.co/TdFgKJDqPw— Jeff Teague (@JeffTeagueHub) March 11, 2014
Although he did not shoot great in Utah, his aggressive play was back. Teague got to the line nine times and scored 16 points. Hopefully his ear prevented him from attacking previously and not the return of Millsap.
Can't win on the road
After going 1-5 on this trip, the Hawks now have a horrendous 10-24 record on the road. That is the worst record of all the teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
They simply cannot win against good teams away from Atlanta. They have not beaten a team with a winning record all season long. This is something that good teams have the ability to do.
The Hawks are 0-17 against teams with .500 or better records on the road http://t.co/BrFCGAudTR— Wes Morton (@WesNBA) March 10, 2014
If the Hawks do make the playoffs, they will have to win on the road to advance. Even with their recent struggles, I still see the Hawks making the playoffs.
My earlier prediction for the fifth seed seems unlikely now, but the Hawks should still make it as the seventh or eighth seed. This will most likely lead to a first-round loss at the hands of either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat.