The Atlanta Hawks have been the beneficiary of a forgiving schedule to start the season, but make no mistake, they’re showing that they’re a top team.
So far the Atlanta Hawks have jumped out to a 3-0 division leading start. Many spectators will scoff at the idea of taking Atlanta seriously because they have played against a low level of competition. They have beaten the likes of the Washington Wizards at home, the Philadelphia 76ers on the road, and the Sacramento Kings also at home. Those three teams have a combined win/loss record of 2-8. They also are losing their games by a combined number of 26 points.
Those teams have looked bad out of the gate, no doubt about that. But the Hawks have contributed heavily to their poor fortunes. They beat Philadelphia by 32 points in front of a sell out, optimistic crowd that had some type of confidence since the Sixers kept their opening game close against the Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City Thunder, losing by only 7 points.
The outcome of the Sacramento Kings game resulted in a 106-95, 11-point win for the Hawks. While the Kings are a franchise that struggles to get out of it’s own way, they’re not lacking in terms of talent. For most front offices, a nucleus of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Ben McLemore would be good to build around. They’re main problem appears to be consistency as they actually beat the Phoenix Suns on the road, by 19 points for their opening game.
Make no mistake about it, those three teams are not high caliber, contending teams that the Hawks have disposed of. They did however beat them by a wide enough margin to feel good about their upcoming matchup’s with the stronger opponent’s.
Mar 8, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer directs his players during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
The main reason for head coach Mike Budenholzer’s team’s success over the first week of the season has been preparation. He has gone into all the games with an excellent game plan, which can be seen vividly in the fourth quarter point differentials. They are winning the fourth quarter battles by an average of 14 points.
He also has been utilizing the squads depth to the fullest, getting valuable contributions from even player’s towards the end of the rotation. Mike Muscala and Tim Hardaway Jr. are actually among the team leaders, both averaging 11 points per game. There aren’t too many that could have seen that coming.
All of the pieces are starting to come together as a collective group as well. It may be happening much quicker than anticipated, of course, coach Bud could have much more greater aspirations for this team down the road.