Pregame Post-Ups: Hawks Offense Has Become "More Comfortable"

Saturday, November 18 - Celtics at Hawks

Pregame: Atlanta's Offense Has Become "More Comfortable"

ATLANTA – Twelve days ago, when the Atlanta Hawks played host to the Boston Celtics on Nov. 6, the Hawks took to the court while mired in an offensive slump that had pushed them to eight losses in nine games.

Now, on Nov. 18, as the teams prepare to meet yet again in Atlanta, that same offense looks like a juggernaut to defend.

It sure didn’t take long for the Hawks to figure things out. They shot 42.7 percent from the field and scored an average of 101.1 points per game during the nine contests leading up to their first matchup with Boston. During their four games leading up to tonight’s matchup, they shot 49.7 percent from the field and averaged 107.3 PPG, highlighted by a 126-point outburst Wednesday night against Sacramento.

Brad Stevens watched the speedy evolution on tape as he prepared for tonight’s game. He saw a group of Hawks that settled in after an initial adjustment period.

“I think they’ve just become more comfortable in what they’re trying to do,” Stevens said. “I said a couple of weeks ago that [Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer] made small tweaks to their offense, and he’s spread it out and posted it a lot less than when he had (Paul) Millsap and Al (Horford), and as a result, they’re playing really fast, really open, and they clearly have become more comfortable, even in two weeks.”

Balance has been the key to Atlanta’s offensive resurgence. Everyone is contributing.

Seven players averaged at least 10.3 PPG during Atlanta’s last four games, led by 16.3 PPG from swingman Kent Bazemore. Five of those seven players have shot at least 47.6 percent from the field, and six of them have shot at least 36.8 percent from long range.

Dewayne Dedmon, who is playing for his fifth team in five NBA seasons, has found a home and seemingly can’t miss as Atlanta’s starting center; he shot 83.3 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from beyond the arc during Atlanta’s last four games.

The offensive firepower the Hawks have recently shown has not translated into consistent victories, however. They lost three of those four games. It should be noted, though, that the three teams they lost to (Detroit, Washington and New Orleans) are a combined 27-19 on the season.

Boston is 14-2 on the season, and it has been playing defense at a historically great level. That defense will surely need to play at a high level tonight if the C’s would like to advance their winning streak to 15 games.

- Marc D'Amico