Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan has been a major success with Atlanta since taking over for Lloyd Pierce earlier this season, prompting Chris Kirschner of The Athletic to wonder if McMillan could get the club’s permanent head coaching gig.
Atlanta, playing against the Raptors tonight, is 15-5 since Pierce was fired on March 1. The team boasts a plus-16.2 net rating in the fourth quarter in its 20 games with McMillan at the helm, the second-best mark in the league. The Hawks had a minus-8.2 net rating in the fourth quarter during Pierce’s stewardship this season.
Kirschner notes that McMillan has thrived during his head coaching stint despite having to deal with injury issues. Rotation players Cam Reddish, Kris Dunn, De’Andre Hunter and John Collins have each missed seven or more games for Atlanta during McMillan’s tenure. At 29-25, the Hawks are currently the No. 4 seed in the East.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- After losing four starters and roughly 80 points of offense per game to injury, the Hornets have had to get creative to find scoring, details Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Starting center P.J. Washington, starting guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, and starting small forward Gordon Hayward are all currently absent with various maladies, as is core bench player Malik Monk. Washington and Rozier are expected back soon, though the timelines for the other three are murkier. “There are going to be a number of guys who get opportunities tonight who may not have expected it,” head coach James Borrego conceded. “At the start of the week, we never anticipated this type of rotation. But this is where we’re at.”
- Veteran Heat reserve point guard Goran Dragic has struggled through an injury-plagued 2020/21 season thus far. He’s not thinking about the possibility of returning to his role as as a starter come playoff time, as he did for the Heat’s 2020 Finals run, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes.
- Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details how Hawks starting center Clint Capela could be inching his way into the 2020/21 Defensive Player of the Year mix after helping vastly improve the club’s defense. Capela acknowledged that he would like to be considered as a DPOY and All-Defensive Team candidate this season. “I’m a guy who definitely thinks about that, because this is what I do and this is how I help my team win,” Capela said. “And this is how I also get to have a huge impact on the game, that’s defensively, and I think I’m definitely one of the best at doing it. … I feel that I’m playing the best defense of my career this season, yes, simply because I feel the guys give me the confidence to do so.”