The Atlanta Hawks have had a very disappointing season in 2021-22. After an improbable run to the Conference Finals last year, the Hawks were expected to take the step and become perennial Playoff contenders. However, they had been struggling to even get into the Eastern Conference play-in this season.
There have been great moments for Hawks fans courtesy of their mercurial offensive talent in Trae Young. Atlanta had a much-anticipated game against last year's playoff opponents in the New York Knicks tonight, which ended with another win for the Hawks.
Trae Young showed his incredible scoring range against the Knicks again and scored 45 points en-route to a 117-111 win. This win gave the Hawks an even 36-36 record on the season and allowed Trae to join Stephen Curry as the league leader in 45-point games.
In a season where individual scorers have been thriving, it is good to see Young keep pace with everyone else even if his team is struggling. The Hawks have a good young core, but the risk with young cores is that sometimes they don't all mesh together. The Hawks will be looking ahead to a summer of moves to further fix the core around Trae like how the Dallas Mavericks did with Luka Doncic this trade deadline.
The Hawks are 5 games behind the sixth seed in the East, so a push for an automatic playoff spot will be tough to pull off with a total of 10 games remaining in the season. However, they are just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets in eighth, so they have something to fight for to end the regular season.
The Hawks will be a tough playoff out for everyone, but it is unlikely that they can reprise their run from last season with the collective strength of the teams around them and their evident step-back.