The Atlanta Hawks were off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA. At least on the surface, as they eased their way through a number of mediocre opponents to start the year with six straight wins.
Unfortunately for Joe Johnson and the crew, injuries and schedule difficulty has finally caught up to them as they have dropped three straight including a 17 point bashing at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
The three game skid seems to have Josh Smith down as he explained how badly the team needed a win.
“We just wanted to get a win tonight,” he said. “We were already on a two-game losing streak, so we just wanted to get a win no matter who it was against.”
The Hawks are definitely less than 100 percent right now. Both Marvin Williams and Mo Evans sat out last night with injuries and yet to step on the court this month. Most teams would struggle if their two first options at the small forward position went down and the Hawks are no different.
Production off the bench has also been a problem in the three latest games and the frustration was written all over coach Larry Drew’s face as he expressed his difficulties trying to make match-ups and substitutions during a post-game press conference.
“I’ve got to find a better substitution pattern or just better combinations to have in there during the game,” Drew said. “That is the third straight game that we have just gone dead in the water.”
“Dead in the water” is the best phrase to describe last night as the Hawks were outworked by a team coming off the front-end of a back-to-back.
“You would’ve thought, in watching this game that we were the team that played last night,” Drew said. They had way more energy than we did. We seemed to be a step slow and didn’t have that zap in our movement.”
More concerning than the Hawks’ three straight losses and their injury problems is their attitude. The team has looked uninspired during stretches in all three of losses.
Last night was there worse showing yet as they seemed lackadaisical for the last three quarters of the game.
“I don’t understand what happened between the start of the game and the end of the first quarter,” said Al Horford. “Its one of those things that you can’t really explain.”
The Hawks have not looked good responding to their first bit of adversity with Drew running the show and this will be a great opportunity to see what the first year head coach really has.
Ironically enough the Hawks will attempt to right the ship Friday night when they take on a team headed in the totally opposite direction. The Utah Jazz come into Atlanta after stringing three come from behind victories, including an overtime shocker in Miami on Tuesday.