Why Atlanta Hawks Should Not Be Counted Out In NBA Playoffs

Atlanta Hawks, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

A team lurking near the bottom of the Play-In could make a deep run this NBA postseason – and it isn’t the Brooklyn Nets. The Atlanta Hawks once again find themselves in the playoff mix this season. And just like last year, Atlanta is a team to be taken seriously.

Last year, the Hawks made a surprising run from the fifth seed to game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, sending home the Knicks and top-seeded 76ers in the process. They will start as a lower seed this time, but the Hawks will still threaten to make a run this postseason.

The main reason the Hawks can’t be counted out is their star point guard, Trae Young.

Young is having arguably the best season of any point guard this year on the offensive end of the floor. The Hawks’ star averages 28.2 points and 9.7 assists per game, leading them to the league’s second-best offense in offensive rating, at 116.3. Last year, Young was a nightmare for opposing defenses in the playoffs. This year – expect more of the same.

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Trae Young makes playing drop defense simply impossible. With his ability to hit every pass imaginable and sink floaters from any distance, opposing bigs need to step up to Young and limit his airspace. This works to Young’s advantage, too, as he can shimmy into an open three against any big in space.

Trae Young is a one-man wrecking crew, capable of rendering opponent defensive schemes utterly pointless. But the Atlanta Hawks are more than just Trae Young.

Clint Capela represents an optimal pick-and-roll partner to Trae Young. Capela can easily set solid screens, catch and finish lobs, and clean up misses under the rim. The defensive side of the ball is where Capela shines, as he has the size to defend the rim and clean up defensive rebounds.

For the Hawks to match last season’s playoff success, they will need a healthy John Collins. Collins has been out since March 13th with a finger injury and currently has no timeline for return.

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The Hawks’ second-leading scorer this season, Collins, is yet another great complement to Trae Young. Collins can unleash ferocious in-game dunks, and though his post-up game lacks efficiency, he does provide a change of pace to the relentless stream of Young/Capela pick-and-rolls.

The playoffs are all about match-ups, and the Hawks will face one of the East’s toughest in the first round. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee are currently battling for the top two seeds, one of whom will likely face Atlanta.

Though Milwaukee bested them last year, Atlanta would certainly force Bucks center, Brook Lopez, away from his bread-and-butter drop defense. The 76ers, too, might struggle, as Embiid is most comfortable in drop defense. Boston will likely be missing defensive lynchpin Robert Williams III through the first round, though, an advantage Trae Young will be sure to exploit Miami and Boston boast versatile, switching defensive line-ups, who may have an easier time keeping Young in front of them.

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Last year, the Atlanta Hawks showed that they have the offensive talent to play with anyone in a seven-game series. With Trae Young back running the show for another postseason, the Hawks will be a dangerous team once again.

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