Last night, the Atlanta Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The game before? They. Were. DEAD. Down by as much as 26 and with the 76ers having a 99.7% chance to win (ESPNStats), Hawks went on a 40-19 run in the fourth quarter to win.
The Hawks really won this game. 😢 pic.twitter.com/JNke1TqzRQ
— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) June 17, 2021
So why are we even bringing the Atlanta Hawks?
Enter Nate McMillan
Heading into the All-Star break, the Hawks were 14-20 and 11th in the East. On March 1, they fired Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and named McMillan interim HC. Since that point, Hawks have been arguably the hottest team in the NBA. They went 27-11 the remainder of the year, won the Southeast Division, upset the Knicks in the first round, and after a miracle comeback, are in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Every. Single. Statistical. Category has been improved under McMillan. The team not only is clicking on all cylinders production-wise, but 1000% believe in themselves. The swagger they played with in Madison Square Garden was intense. Then they backed it up in Philly.
McMillan needs to be name official head coach as soon as this run is over.
Road to Coaching
If you focus on regular seasons, Nate McMillan has quite impressive record. In his last seven full seasons behind the bench, every team is above .500 and in the playoffs. Prior to Atlanta, McMillan was the head coach of the Pacers, where his last three seasons were all 2nd in the Central and floating around 60% winning percentage.
The problem has always been the playoffs.
While McMillan has a .535 overall winning percentage in the regular season, that drops to .321 in the playoffs. Outside of this run by the Hawks, his teams have been bounced in the first round 8 of 10 tries.
Yet you look at his back-to-back 48-34 seasons, followed by 45-28 shortened season and now this crazy run with the Hawks and realize; maybe he finally has the postseason answer?
Trae Young loves him and wants him to stay. When asked about the situation,
“I’m not surprised they haven’t announced because, I don’t know, it could become a distraction. I think everybody kind of knows what’s going to be coming. We’re all winning, so it’s not anything that I feel like he should be worried about or anything like that.
After spending two years at Chowan College, McMillan came home to Raleigh to play for Jim Valvano. In his first year back, he helped the Wolfpack grab a share of first in the ACC regular season. Both years, State made it to the Elite Eight. During his career, he spread the wealth across the stat sheet; 5.1 REBs, 6 ASTs, 2.2 STLs, 1 BLK, and 8.5 PTS.