The Hawks took care of business Wednesday night by overcoming a sloppy start and disposing of the two-win 76ers, 95-79, at Philips Arena
The Hawks (15-6) have won eight straight, the longest streak since they started the 1997-98 season with 11 straight wins. They ran their home record to 10-2 (tied with the Wizards for the best home mark in the Eastern Conference). The Hawks are nine games above .500 for the first time since April 1, 2013.
Here are five observations from the game:
1. The Hawks may have learned a lesson about relying on the outside shot. They started the game poorly. After the first quarter, the Hawks were 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
During a timeout, coach Mike Budenholzer said he told his team to get to the basket.
“One of the timeouts we talked about shooting too many jump shots,” Budenholzer said. “I’m a big believer of shooting when you are open and spreading the court and the 3-ball is part of our game. At times, you have to drive more and you have to attack more. I think there was a point early tonight that we weren’t driving enough.”
Paul Millsap echoed his coach.
“Every open shot is not a great shot, in my opinion,” Millsap said. “If you can get to the basket, get to the basket, kick out, plays like that where you are in rhythm. It makes the open shots a little better.”
2. For the first time, Budenholzer acknowledged that Shelvin Mack is the first backup at shooting guard for Kyle Korver and Dennis Schroder is the first backup at point guard for Jeff Teague.
“It’s part of the rotation,” Budenholzer said. “Shelvin is playing the backup 2. He is going in for Kyle and Dennis for Jeff (Teague). Sometimes I take guys out a little bit earlier or a little bit later.”
3. Mike Muscala benefited from his stint in the NBA Development League. The center played two games at Fort Wayne before returning to the Hawks. Muscala got extended playing time against the 76ers. He played 19 minutes and had 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.
“I guess just having that experience, being able to be on the court, play a game,” Muscala said. “Even though it wasn’t the NBA to be able to run up and down it helps. You can play 3-on-3 and do all those workouts but we’ve had such few practices because of the schedule we’ve had.”
4. The Hawks did not play down to the level of their competition – something they would do at times last season. Yes, they were sloppy early on. However, the 76ers never led. It was the fourth wire-to-wire victory for the Hawks this season, something they did just four times all last season. There has been growth.
“I think we all feel good,” Kyle Korver said. “It’s fun basketball when you win. When you are winning you want to do anything. I think our energy is good. Our approach has been really good. It’s easy when you are winning some games in a row to kind of relax. I think guys have done a good job of approaching every day for what it is, if it’s a practice or a shootaround or a game. Guys are coming focused and just being a pro. I think that is growth for our team this year. That is the biggest thing. We know who we are. We know what we are running. We know the system. Let’s keep on doing it.”
5. The Hawks continue to be anything but a one-man team. Against the 76ers, DeMarre Carroll and Korver led the team with 17 points apiece. In the win over the Pacers, it was Al Horford who stepped up; and Paul Millsap against the Nuggets; and Jeff Teague against the Heat. The list goes on.