Hawks continue to clean up issues on both ends of the floor

The Hawks have another test ahead of them Saturday when they host the Raptors at State Farm Arena.

The Hawks have done plenty well early this season. But their inconsistency and lack of 3-point shooting have bitten them in a number of games. The Hawks (9-6) currently possess the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and are tied for seventh in the NBA.

“I mean, we’ll just be that much better,” Hawks small forward De’Andre Hunter said. “We’re not shooting well right now. But shots are gonna start to fall. The guys are putting in the work. Like I said, just not falling right now, but when it does, we’ll be much better.”

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The Hawks have been better on defense than last season. They rank 12th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and average 17.5 points off turnovers per game.

But the Hawks have had some trouble generating scoring in a way that fans have become accustomed to. The Hawks rank 27th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage and have gone 26-of-102 from long range over their past four games.

“We know we have to be better because other teams are going to get better,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “And, we have to continue to work to improve on both ends of the floor. So we understand where we are, and we’ve done some good things to have ourselves in that third position, but we know we gotta get better.”

So, the Hawks will look to continue to take care of the ball Saturday night against the Raptors to create as many opportunities as possible. The Raptors rank first in the NBA in steals per game and forced 18 turnovers the last time they faced the Hawks.

“We gave up 43 fast-break great points against them in Toronto, and in the Boston game, we gave up 31,” McMillan said. “So we got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball. When there is a turnover or a shot that’s missed or made, we got to sprint back, we got to get back.”

The Raptors will play without several key players in their rotation, including starting big man Pascal Siakam (right adductor strain), but they will have the rest of their starting unit intact.

So, the Hawks will try to avoid falling behind early, though they have shown that they can climb out of them. Of course, they would rather get out in front early and stay there.

“I wish we weren’t like that and we didn’t have to do that,” Hunter said. “But I mean, it just goes to show how you know how tough we are as a team. We’re just gonna keep playing full 48. Whether we’re making shots or not, we’re just gonna keep playing.”

Injury note

Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to remain out as he continues to rehab from offseason knee surgery. McMillan said Bogdanovic is still moving, rehabbing and getting up a lot of shots.

When asked how much time the team will allow Bogdanovic to get into game shape, McMillan said it’s too early to plan for that.

“It’s too early for that,” McMillan said. “You know, once he gets back to or gets close to playing, well let’s just say when he returns, then I will talk with Bogey and our trainers about the number of minutes that he can play at that time, but it’s really too early for them.”