Before the NBA opened play on Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight.com’s projection system said the Hawks will win an NBA-low 26 games. The Vegas over/under for Hawks is 25 1/2 (though bettors really like the over). Considering the low expectations for the Hawks, the roster turnover and their relative youth, it’s not ideal for them to begin the season with a five-game trip that is the longest to start the season in franchise history.
Before the Hawks departed for tonight’s season opener in Dallas, coach Mike Budenholzer was looking at the bright side.
“Going out on the road can be a positive,” Budenholzer said. “Spending time together and maybe more time in practices or film sessions. You don’t have anywhere to go or you don’t have a family to go home to. More time to bond and things like that. And you are tested on the road whether it be the crowd or the home team’s energy. But it’s the schedule. You’ve got to make the best of it.”
Again, a five-game trip to start the season is not ideal. But if there’s another bright side it’s that the Hawks aren’t going to play any NBA championship contenders on the trip. Their opponents include three likely lottery teams (Mavs, Nets and Bulls), one fringe playoff team in the East (Heat) and one likely postseason participant in the East (Hornets). (The Mavs would fare better in the East but they’d probably still be a lottery team.)
The Hawks could beat the injury-weakened Mavericks. The Hornets are vulnerable without Batum and (possibly) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Nets and Bulls are no better than the Hawks–and Chicago will be down a rotation player or two after Bobby Portis reportedly injured Nikola Mirotic in a fight. The Heat are solid.
The Hawks are still getting a feel for their new offensive style as the season starts, but seven of their top 10 players are well-versed in Budenholzer’s defense. They are relatively healthy. Winning five or four games on the trip might be a too much to expect from the Hawks but they plausibly could grind out three.
If they lose four games or all five then it could be a sign that all the preseason skepticism about this team is warranted. Tanking proponents might be pleased, though.
- Hawks practice report: ‘Gifted and talented’ defensively, ‘learning curve’ on offense
- Will the Hawks be NBA’s worst team? Experts make their predictions
- Hawks agree to contract with point guard Isaiah Taylor
- Hawks practice report: Budenholzer ‘open’ to 11-man rotation
- WATCH: Awful ‘overtime’ period at Hawks scrimmage
- WATCH: DeAndre’ Bembry reacts to Hawks picking up his contract option
- WATCH: Taurean Prince reacts to Hawks picking up his contract option
- WATCH: Hawks coach Budenholzer explains why team kept Magette over Cook
- Hawks exercise 2018-19 contract options for Prince, Bembry
- Hawks roster set. Here’s what it looks like
- Hawks to net two more draft picks in trade with Cavs
- WATCH: Kent Bazemore says Hawks ready for season
- Five observations from Hawks loss to Mavericks (exhibition)
- Hawks want to run but know ‘it’s not easy’
- Hawks practice report: Transition D still priority over offensive boards
- New Hawks style suits Bembry
- Hawks practice report: Belinelli ‘for sure’ he’ll be ready for season opener
- Hawks say ‘scrappy’ style gives them chance to exceed expectations
- WATCH: Hawks rookie John Collins on his NBA development
- Five observations from Hawks victory over Grizzlies (exhibition)
- Dewayne Dedmon (!) to shoot 3s as Hawks seek floor spacing
- Hawks waive John Jenkins, Jordan Matthews
- Can Hawks be fun to watch even if they don’t win many games?
- Five observations from Hawks victory at Cavs (exhibition)
- NBA GMs: Collins is draft ‘steal,’ Budenholzer among best game coaches
- The best Hawks lineup, for now and the future
- Dewayne Dedmon immediately shows he can help the Hawks
- Five observations from Hawks loss at Heat (exhibition)
- Dennis Schroder is arrested, and I wonder if he’s ready to lead Hawks
- Is Mike Budenholzer on board with Hawks rebuild?
- Will NBA draft lottery changes hurt Hawks?
- VIDEO: Hawks guard Belinelli says he’s fitting in fast with new team
- Now healthy, Hawks Bazemore ‘in love with the grind again’
- VIDEO: Hawks guard Schroder on leadership, featured role in offense
- VIDEO: Hawks coach Budenholzer on offensive tweaks
- Malcolm Delaney: ‘People didn’t understand everything I had to go through’
- Here are the details on Hawks contracts
- Hawks to ‘practice harder’ so they can play faster
- Hawks now are Schroder’s show
- ‘Greater pace, greater space’ for Hawks? Sounds good
- Hawks GM Travis Schlenk Q-and-A Part 2: ‘Excited’ about 2018 draft class
- Hawks GM Travis Schlenk Q-and-A: ‘We are going to be competitive’
- Five things to watch at Hawks training camp
- Hawks player preview: Dennis Schroder
- Hawks player preview: Taurean Prince
- Hawks player preview: Miles Plumlee
- Hawks player preview: Mike Muscala
- Hawks player preview: Ersan Ilyasova
- Hawks player preview: Tyler Dorsey
- Hawks player preview: Malcolm Delaney
- Hawks player preview: Dewayne Dedmon
- Hawks player preview: John Collins
- Hawks player preview: Nicolas Brussino
- Hawks player preview: DeAndre’ Bembry
- Hawks player preview: Marco Belinelli
- Hawks player preview: Kent Bazemore
- Hawks player preview: Luke Babbitt