Hawks sad
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports
Home » Blog » Hawks’ season ends with a whimper

Hawks’ season ends with a whimper

The Atlanta Hawks won 19 games in a row at one point this season and finished with a franchise-record 60 wins, but that did the Hawks little good against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Atlanta was swept away in ugly fashion on Tuesday night, losing 118-88 in Game 4 in Cleveland.

Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

The banged-up Hawks never had a chance in Game 4, as Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup and LeBron James led an energized Cavaliers squad ready to complete the sweep. James nearly notched another triple-double as he advanced to his fifth consecutive NBA Finals.

The Hawks were simply a shell of themselves in this game and the entire series. Injuries certainly didn’t help matters. Ace defender Thabo Sefolosha missed the entire postseason after the NYPD broke his leg during an altercation outside a New York club. DeMarre Carroll gutted through a knee injury suffered in Game 1 of this series. Kyle Korver injured his ankle in Game 2 and missed the last two games. Al Horford and Paul Millsap dealt with nagging injuries.

These injuries played into Atlanta’s struggles offensively, and especially from distance, against Cleveland, although there were shooting issues earlier in the postseason as well. But the regression really manifested itself in the Eastern Conference Finals, as the Hawks shot a dreadful 23.4 percent from long range. Atlanta shot 38 percent from deep in the regular season. The Cavaliers’ defense played a role in this, but the Hawks also missed a ton of wide open looks.

While the season ending in disappointing fashion, this was still a very successful season for Atlanta. 60 wins and a first Eastern Conference Finals appearance ever is nothing to sneeze at, and there’s a solid core in place. Horford, Korver and Jeff Teague will all be back, and most people expect Millsap to be re-signed. Carroll is a bigger question mark, but the Hawks will surely do all they can to bring him back as well. Dennis Schroder is also a nice young piece off the bench, even if he was a disaster in these playoffs.

If Atlanta brings back all of the gang (or at least Millsap), many will probably still say they have a ceiling of the Eastern Conference Finals because they don’t have that star player needed in the postseason to get buckets. That may be true, but I’m not convinced the Hawks’ model can’t work. It’s certainly a bit tougher without a star, but it’s not impossible and could work if the team is healthier. The margin for error is smaller, of course.

The Hawks will be back next season. Another 60-win campaign may be a bit too much to expect, but there’s little reason to believe they can’t get over 50 wins and be near the top of the conference once again.

  • 100%