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Happy weekend!

A new edition of This Week in the Hawks is here. It’s been a rough week and a bit for the Hawks and today’s topics kinda centre around that. Mostly, about how the schedule is looking for the Hawks and their playoff rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers.

After that, a brief recap of the Wizards and Bucks games before a lookahead to the upcoming schedule.

Thanks for listening, if you enjoyed, share the love it’s always appreciated.

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their fifth consecutive game in a tightly contested affair against the Washington Wizards in D.C. on Wednesday night. For the Wizards, they were led by Bradley Beal’s 28 points.

The Hawks had done a decent defensive job on John Wall, who was scoreless in the first half on 0-of-8 shooting but came to life in the second half, all 22 of Wall’s points coming in the second half. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Hawks with 29 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks retain the fifth seed in the East despite this loss after the Indiana Pacers lost in Boston on Wedneday night but there’s a new threat for the Hawks to worry about: The Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 10 games in their last 12. With the Bucks’ victory against the Kings, the Bucks move to just one game behind the Hawks and have wrestled the sixth seed away from the Pacers.

Atlanta’s next game? Yep. The Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee… What a huge game that will be.

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(stats courtesy of NBA.com)

It’s a secret to no one that Paul Millsap is absolutely key to the Atlanta Hawks and any playoff run they hope to have. But he’s had to carry a very heavy burden this season…

Paul is averaging a career-high 18.1 points per game this season but you’d know, if you’ve watched the Hawks on a regular basis this season, that Millsap is the only consistent offensive player for the Hawks. Dennis Schröder is somewhat consistent but when he’s off…he’s really off. Tim Hardaway Jr. can bring the fire but he can be a little streaky — feast or famine, to an extent. Kent Bazemore has been extremely inconsistent this season whilst Thabo Sefolosha isn’t asked to score a whole lot and has struggled shooting the ball this season. Dwight Howard, meanwhile…the less said about Dwight’s offense the better.

When the Hawks have struggled on offense in games they dial-up Paul Millsap, and he’ll — more often or not — make something happen. Whether that’s outright scoring himself, get to the free throw line or make a play for someone else…Millsap just makes things happen for the Hawks. He makes them tick.

As we know, Millsap plays more than one side of the ball unlike the Hawks’ other offensive players, like your THJ’s and Dennis Schröder’s, whose defense often leaves a lot to be desired. Paul has been tasked — and has also asked in some cases — to check the opposing team’s best small forward/power forward and even center. In a game against the New York Knicks and where Carmelo Anthony is on fire, Millsap guarded him down the stretch and did a wonderful job, coming up with multiple, huge defensive stops.

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The shorthanded Atlanta Hawks dropped their fourth game in a row, falling to the Charlotte Hornets 105-90 at the Spectrum Center. The Hornets were led by Nic Batum’s and Kemba Walker’s 16 points while Frank Kaminsky added 14 points off the bench. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 20 points.

Standings watch

Goodbye, home court advantage! The Hawks are now four games behind the Toronto Raptors for the fourth seed and now need to look over their shoulders rather than looking ahead of them. They are just one game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the fifth seed.

There’s a little bit of panic amongst Hawks fans. It’s all going wrong at the wrong time of the season and there’s concern in the locker room too about the Hawks’ recent play.

“There is a concern with how we are playing. It’s always been about what we are doing day-to-day. If you are doing things well day-to-day, you’ll move up in the standings and win games. If you are not doing things well day-to-day, the reverse will happen. We just have to be better.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second straight home game, this time against the Portland Trail Blazers, 113-97. In what was a wire-to-wire win for the Blazers, Damian Lillard led the way with 27 points while his running mate, C.J. McCollum, added 22 points. For the Hawks, Ersan Ilyasova — probably the only Hawks who you could say had a good game — led the way with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from behind the arc.

Standings watch

Following this loss, the Hawks are now three games behind the Toronto Raptors in the race for home court advantage. The Hawks are about to head on a three game road trip (@ Charlotte, @ Washington and @ Milwaukee) this week. If this road trip goes badly, you can kiss home court advantage goodbye.

No Millsap = problems

Paul Millsap was a late scratch from this game with left knee tightness. The Hawks are 0-3 in his absence and the average margin of defeat is 27 points (including a 44 point loss to the Toronto Raptors). With last night’s loss that number drops to 0-4.

I mean, where do I even start with the Hawks last night? The defense was awful, the offense was awful, there was no effort, no urgency and little respect given to a team who has now won 7 of their last 9 games. There was little/no respect given to Lillard or McCollum, who literally got to whatever spot they wanted and got any shot they wanted…etc.

Yea…pretty much, Kimi, pretty much. The Hawks playing very poorly in Millsap’s absence was no coincidence at 0-3 and is no coincidence now at 0-4.

Anyways, let’s try to break some of it down and see where the Hawks went wrong. It’s worth mentioning, before we get cracking here, that not all of this could’ve been avoided even if Millsap was in the lineup. The Hawks have a lot of issues with Paul in the lineup, let alone without.

However, the Hawks are going to have to get used to Millsap’s absence. Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reports that both Millsap and Bazemore — who suffered a knee contusion near the end of this game — will miss at least two games, Bazemore to be re-evaluated in 7-10 days.

Nightmare first quarter

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their latest contest at Philips Arena against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night, 103-91. The Hawks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 18 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks are in a race with the Toronto Raptors for home court advantage but were unable to capitalise on the Raptors’ home loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The gap between the Hawks and Raptors remains at 2 games.

Third quarter struggles

This game was decided in the third quarter, a quarter the Hawks were outscored by the Grizzlies 23-13. The Hawks shot 3-of-17 from the field while the Grizzlies shot 10-of-23.

“It just felt like one of those nights We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t pass it. We just have an off night with a lot of credit to Memphis. They are into us. They were physical. They got more 50-50 balls than we did. It wasn’t our night.”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

You have to give a lot of credit to Memphis for Atlanta’s third quarter struggles. Their defense was dialled up a notch and they seemed to pack the paint a little more in the third quarter, forcing the Hawks into tougher jump shots rather than shots in the paint.

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Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks extended their winning streak to three games against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night, with a107-90 victory at Fed Ex Forum. In a wire-to-wire victory, Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 17 points while Dennis Schröder and Paul Millsap both added 16 points. For the Grizzlies, JaMychal Green led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Mike Conley added 16 points.

Perimeter shooting proves decisive

A summary of this game — why the Hawks won and the Grizz lost — in nine-ish words: The Hawks made their shots, the Grizzlies did not.

Memphis’ shot chart

ATL’s shot chart

It really was as simple as that. The Hawks shot 50% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc while the Grizzlies shot 38% from the the floor and 17% (5-of-29) from three-point range. The Hawks’ defense was good but Memphis’ offense was quite poor and they settled for a lot of jumpshots that didn’t go down. But give credit to the Hawks, whose man and ball movement was very good but perhaps there’s another reason why the Hawks’ offense was a little more fluid in terms of ball and man movement…

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped another game in their six game home stand, this time a last second winner from Glen Robinson III pushing the Pacers over the finish line 97-96 on Sunday afternoon. Paul George led the Pacers with a game-high 34 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 23 points and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 24 points.

Keys plays down the stretch cost Atlanta

Let’s get this straight…the Hawks did not deserve to win this game. They were very poor in the second and third quarters and, really, had no business winning this game. The Hawks also conceded another 15 three-pointers and allowed Paul George to go for 34 points in the first three quarters. They played that poorly. That being said…they should have won this game.

The last minute and what transpired in it proved to be decisive but, first, some backstory…

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their six game home stand with a 100-95 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The Mavs — who were without Wesley (Wessy Wes) Matthews — were led by Harrison Barnes’ 25 points while Seth Curry added 21 points. For the Hawks, six players scored in double digits, led by Paul Millsap’s and Ersan Ilyasova’s 18 points each.

Paul “clutch” Millsap…again

The Hawks were very fortunate to be still within a shout of winning this game by the time crunch time arrived the late stages. They did a great job throwing away their 12 point lead and were just so sloppy in the fourth quarter and the Mavs took full advantage by swapping a six point deficit for a four point lead. Giving team a sliver of hope in fourth quarters — having led by double figures — has been a problem for the Hawks this season and so it was again on Wednesday night.

“We can’t allow games to get like that, especially when we have a big lead. It’s not a good thing. We did make it up but in the playoffs it’s not going to work. When you have a lead like that you have to punish teams. You can’t let them back in. Once you give teams hope, they can do anything. When you have a lead, you have to punish them.”

— Dwight Howard

The Hawks recovered, but two Seth Curry free throws put the Mavs up by one (95-94) with 55 seconds left in the game. Coach Bud takes a timeout, the next possession would be a crucial one if the Hawks were going to win this game. The play? Just give Paul Millsap the ball.

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Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks — behind an excellent second half — ended their three game skid with an excellent road victory against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Monday night. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points on 4-of-21 shooting, ending his 43 game streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game.

He’s had an incredible run at it, and you’re going to have nights like that. That’s certainly the case. But you know, again, I think we should also credit Atlanta. I feel like Atlanta deserves to be credited for (their defense); I thought they played great.”

— Coach Brad Stevens

Former Hawk Al Horford scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Dwight’s eventful night

Eventful is certainly one way to describe Dwight Howard’s night… At least we’re not talking about some Schröder-Thomas nonsense, I suppose…

Dwight was having a very decent game. He had the advantage over the Celtics when it came to rebounding (grabbing six offensive rebounds and 12 overall), he was hitting the majority of his free throws and he was playing good defense…things were going great. Then the third quarter happened. Things got a little chippy with Al Horford, Dwight taking exception to a foul that Horford committed.

Dwight earned — and it was well earned — a technical foul for that shove. After Horford picked up his fourth foul, Dwight’s game continued to trend upwards, enjoying favorable match-ups in Horford’s absence. And then…then this happened (yay, timestamps):

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