In a season chalk-filled with winning streaks, the Atlanta Hawks’ 19 game streak ended against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Hawks who started this run on Dec. 26 are now 40-9 and seven games up in the Eastern Conference. The closest team behind them are the Toronto Raptors.

The question is will the Hawks remain this hot for the rest of the season and, more importantly, in the playoffs: as many analysts have pointed out, the 115-100 loss to the Pelicans indicate a greater problem for the Eastern Conference’s number one seed — their lack of a big man. Despite being top ten in PPG and top five in APG and points allowed, the Atlanta Hawks are 27th in RPG with 40.9: both center Al Horford and power forward Paul Millsap are averaging less than 10 RPG. This means their starting big men are averaging less than half of the Hawks’ RPG.

And Anthony Davis coming off a minor injury exploited this problem: he scored 29 points and had 13 rebounds. On top of this, this game showed what happens if the Hawks game plan of spreading the court and shooting three-pointers fail: after garnering at least nine three-pointers in the last 15 games, they were 7 for 22, shooting a measly 31.8 percent from behind the arc.

Still as ESPN’s Tim Legler pointed out, the Hawks are 16-1 against playoff caliber teams over the last two months: 33-3 since Thanksgiving break. However, he is nervous about the lack of a big man: something teams could game plan for and exploit in a seven game series. There is no doubt that the Hawks are a title contender, especially since they will likely finish the season atop the Eastern Conference. But will they be able to step up in big moments and learn to work around their weaknesses.

Now, even with their lack of rebounds, they are a top five defense in the NBA: meaning they have the talent to beat teams on both ends of the court. Needless to say, their first loss in over a month is nothing to worry about yet. Jeff Teague stated, “We were a little off, but that happens in games. We were due for one, but [New Orleans] just played well.”

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