Hawks maintain ground in East, but have no all-stars

Photo by Walter Pinion

The Hawks remain one of the three teams over .500 in the Eastern Conference along with Miami and Indiana. While struggling the past week, they were able to pull off an upset of the Pacers Wednesday night by pushing ahead early in the game and maintaining their lead throughout. The team is still adapting to not being able to run the offense through Al Horford, but are finding a rhythm that relies heavily on ball movement.

THREE-POINT BONANZA …

The offense has become even more reli-ant on threes, moving from 28.7 percent of their field goal tries when Horford was healthy, to 37.1 percent after. This means that when the shooters are having an off night, the offense will struggle. This partially explains the three-game losing streak while Kyle Korver was trying to regain his stroke. In his past four games, rookie Pero Antic has started at center and has provided quality production. He has had a line of 12.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds in 23.5 minutes of playing time. What he has been especially adept at is finding shots behind the arc. He is shooting a cool 54.5 percent from beyond the three-point line in the new year, and taking an average of 5.5 per game and making three of them. If his minutes continue to rise, he could find himself in New Orleans for the Rising Stars challenge during All Star weekend.

D-LEAGUE DUDES …

Another new element the Hawks have uti-lized this season is the D-League. Three differ-ent players have spent time in Bakersfield, the home of the Hawks’ affiliate team. Jared Cunningham, John Jenkins and Dennis Schröeder have all had multiple stints with the Jam work-ing to refine their games in order to crack the rotation with the Hawks. Schröeder has been supplanted by Shelvin Mack as the primary point guard behind Jeff Teague, so time in the D-League is important to keep him in game action to work on what the coaches need him to. Now that Al Horford is sidelined, it appears that no Hawks will make it to the All Star game, even though they have the third-best record in the East. The two most likely Hawks to crack the team would be Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague as reserves, but both would need to elevate their games the next few weeks in order to get recognized.

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