The Atlanta Hawks right now are the best story in the NBA. Friday night in Toronto, the Hawks came into the Air Canada Centre and schooled the Raptors to a tune of 110-89. The win was their 11th straight on the road, adding to their franchise record, and their 11th straight overall. The last time the Hawks won 11 straight was back in the 1997-1998 season.
So when the Hawks woke up Saturday morning in their hotel in Chicago, where they will play the Bulls that night, they were 32-8 atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference and a five full games in front of the Washington Wizards, and five and half up on the Raptors and Bulls.
So what has been the turn-around for the Hawks? Legendary Hawks player and broadcaster Dominique Wilkins answered that very question before Friday’s tilt with the Raptors.
“We have 10 guys that can shoot the basketball and we play outstanding defense,” Wilkins said.
The shooting part showed up in Friday’s game. The Hawks shot an amazing 64-per cent from the field, stumping Toronto’s defense all night. They were also 12-21 from behind the three point line. Early in the game the Hawks could see that the Raptors could not defend from behind the arc. So when they had the chance DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver just let it fly.
The Hawks also choked the Raptors offense in the first half, holding them to just 19-points in each of the first and second quarters. The Hawks closed out the first half on a 14-6 run.
When you talk to the Hawks players they know they have a chance to make a statement.
“We have a chance to do something special this time,” Hawks star center Al Horford said. “We have to keep getting better and it’s up for us to keep playing well and (not) be satisfied. We are half way there and we got to keep going”.
After their game in Chicago Saturday night, the Hawks return to Atlanta for a seven game homestand, their longest of the season. The Hawks own the best home record in the East at 16-3.
Six of seven teams coming into town have a record of below .500. The toughest game and the one everyone will be watching is January 30th against the second place team in Western Conference, the Portland Trail-Blazers.
So it doesn’t look like these Hawks are going away anytime soon. And they will be a story we will be watching for the rest of this season.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.