The Hawks are rolling with five straight victories, the longest current streak in the NBA, and plenty has gone right during the streak.
Al Horford, named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week (Nov. 19-25) Monday, has averaged nearly a double-double in the five wins. Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith are helping the Hawks dominate in the paint. Jeff Teague has the transition game running at a high speed.
It hasn’t all been perfect. They needed a 3-pointer by Kyle Korver in the final seconds to defeat a winless Wizards team at home. He also hit another from long range late against the Clippers who were making a serious run from a 27-point deficit.
“I think we’ve just played well,” Horford said Monday. “We still have some work to do as a team. We can get better.”
Here is a closer look at what has worked during the current win streak, where the Hawks have outscored the Kings, Magic, Wizards, Bobcats and Clippers by a combined score of 509-452.
The Hawks preach an up-tempo style and it’s starting to come together. Teague has been running the show with Lou Williams coming off the bench and Devin Harris nursing a toe injury. Teague is averaging 14 points and eight assists during the streak.
“Jeff has been on a roll for us,” Horford said. “He’s the one that is driving what we have going on right now with his energy and finding people. He’s been finding me a lot. He’s making the game easier for a lot of us.”
Coach Larry Drew said after 12 games he is pleased with how far the transition game has progressed. There is still a need for more consistency.
Teague had a double-double each of the past two games in points and assists, a first in his career. In fact, it’s the first time he’s posted back-to-back double-digit assist games.
“I just try to push the ball,” Teague said. “We used to walk it up a lot last year. This year we are getting out and trying to push it. We are small but we are fast and we try to use that to our advantage.
Horford has hot hand
Horford missed the Hawks’ game against the Warriors with the stomach illness that hit the team on its West coast trip last week. In the five games since, he is averaging 17.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists (including 10 against the Wizards).
Presence in the paint
The Hawks have been tough inside during over the past five games. They have scored more points in the paint in each contest. They were outrebounded in two of those games, the Wizards and Magic, but still held the inside advantage. Guards have gotten into the lane and the front court has been solid, In addition to Horford, Pachulia is averaging 10 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Of the team’s success on the inside, both in points and rebounding, Pachulia said simply “Stats don’t lie.”
The Hawks’ bench has continued to be an asset. While the reserves were outscored in each of the wins over the streak, by a significant margin (214-137), roles are starting to be established. Lou Williams is fourth on the team in scoring average coming off the bench in every game this season. Anthony Morrow and Ivan Johnson are playing more minutes. Anthony Tolliver has played only 3:33 with four DNPs over the past five games.
“I’m a role player and I like to see the guys play their role and do their job and bring something to the table,” Pachulia said. “It’s beautiful to see. It’s so much fun to play in this kind of situation. Everybody is on the same page again.”
The Hawks have been strong defensively, especially in the second half, during the streak. They have outscored each opponent following intermission in each game. Drew has sprinkled in some zone defense to help with matchup issues.
“I think it has really helped us win some games where we’ve played man and then went to our zone and gotten some mileage out of it,” Drew said. “… It can be to generate a different rhythm of the game. There may be certain matchups we don’t like. We may have problems defending somebody half-court one-on-one.”
* In news from practice: Harris (toe) did not participate. He could be ready by Wednesday. DeShawn Stevenson (ankle) practice and is ready to play.
- Chris Vivlamore