Trae Young confident Hawks will figure it out

PHILADELPHIA – This isn’t the start the Hawks wanted, but as the belief goes, the NBA season doesn’t truly begin until Christmas, right?

By then, the Hawks hope they’re healthier and more in sync. They lost their third consecutive game Monday in Philadelphia. They led by double digits in each contest. The Hawks are one game over .500 at 11-10.

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Defense, rebounding and shooting consistency have been the primary issues – one doesn’t need to be a basketball savant to know struggling in those areas is a massive issue. The team was sloppy Monday with 19 turnovers, including several down the stretch of a tight fourth quarter (the Hawks and 76ers began the final 12 minutes tied at 81-81).

After the latest loss, All-Star guard Trae Young expressed confidence his team will turn it around. Besides the talent, he cited the team’s work ethic and experience, having made the playoffs the past two seasons and advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2021.

“We’ve won games at a high level,” Young said. “I have confidence in the work I put in. I know the guys I’m with put in a lot of work every day, too. I know it’s going to turn eventually because the guys we have work too hard. We have some guys who are still trying to figure out how to play with each other.”

Young continued, citing Bogdan Bogdanovic’s eventually return to the lineup. Bogdanovic hasn’t played this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

“When we get Bogey back, obviously (3-point shooting will improve),” Young said. “He should be coming back soon. But we can’t just depend on Bogey to help our 3-point shooting out. We have to get better as a team.”

The Hawks haven’t provided an exact timetable for Bogdanovic’s return, but general manager Landry Fields said he’ll return “in the next few games” during an interview on 92.9 The Game on Tuesday morning. That’s a promising update for a player the Hawks have missed. They’re shooting 32.9% from 3; only four teams have fared worse, each of which has a losing record (Timberwolves, Hornets, Lakers, Knicks). Bogdanovic is a career 38.4% 3-point shooter and adds a needed floor spacer.

The Hawks have a get-right opportunity Wednesday in Orlando. The Magic (5-16) are a young rebuilding team that, while competitive in stretches, have struggled mightily to close games. The Hawks’ remaining strength of schedule is 27th (.491), per Tankathon, so perhaps that helps in their quest to stabilize.

As Young noted, the snowball effect is real.

“We have to figure out how to get one,” he said. “We have to get one and hopefully that strings together and gets us some wins. In this league, it’s all about momentum.”

The Hawks can start building some of that momentum Wednesday in Florida.