Hawks’ Quin Snyder raising awareness of team’s habits

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Hawks have been consistently inconsistent this season. With a new coach at the helm, it will take some time to raise awareness of some old habits.

“It’s just different defensive schemes,” Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter said at shootaround Monday. “With a new coach, he has different areas that help, different players helping in different areas. So, it’s just a little different for us. But we have to learn in the game. Like we, we talked about not really (having) much practice time. So, just learning from our mistakes in the game, watching film and being better.”

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Since the All-Star break, the Hawks have averaged four more points per game than before it. They’ve jumped two spots from eighth to sixth in the NBA in points per game, and they’ve seen an uptick in the team’s 3-point percentage.

But the Hawks’ troubles on defense have continued. They rank 26th in the league in 10 games since Feb. 24 and have given up the fourth-most fast-break points (15.6) and fourth-most points in the paint (53.9).

The team knows it has to improve if it wants to get a crack at the playoffs, as well as potentially have an extended run. So, they will take advantage of these extra days of practice to work on the mistakes that have plagued them.

“That’s what he’s been about. I think that how you finish the season is really how you see how your year has been,” Hawks center Clint Capela said.

“So, still 13 games left, and what we’re trying to do is to build those habits by trying to be better at the next game and trying to improve defensively the first couple of minutes, and really (we) got to be better. And we know that. And we know that (there’s) some stuff that we said we’d try to do in the game (that) we didn’t do as well. So, we got to refocus. And we talked about it. So, the next game, we’re going to do it.”

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Since the All-Star break, Hawks opponents on average have knocked down 38.9% of their 3-pointers, up from 34.9% before the break. There has been a tendency to overhelp on the strong side.

So, the Hawks have tried to teach based off the film by re-creating those situations in practice. Then they go over how to avoid overhelping when they naturally want to do that.

“Whether it’s even coaches with a ball or just to train those habits, and just I feel like, if not, then what?” coach Quin Snyder said. “If you’re gonna tell them not to overhelp, how do you help understand that and feel it?”

As Capela said, 13 games remain in the regular season, and the Hawks don’t have much time to let new habits sink in. So, the team has been trying to prioritize.

“So there’s a lot of things that, they have to understand, it’s hard to work on all the ones,” Snyder said. “When you work on three things, usually, they all get watered down a little bit. So it’s kind of what you want to talk about, trying to prioritize certain things, even prioritizing, keeping someone out of the paint, there’s a lot of ways that happen.”

The Hawks face the Warriors, a team they lost to in double overtime in January, on Friday. Warriors wing Klay Thompson scored 54 points and knocked down 10 3-pointers. So, they’ll be tested on the things they worked on over these past few days.

“I think it’s more about us,” Snyder said. “But there’s also ways that you can weave certain things in, and Golden State’s really unique. It’s not a surprise in me saying that. It’s a lot of screening actions, and that’s another way that people have gotten into the paint is they just got so much separation in turning corners. So that’s something that we raise awareness about in our habits.”