It’s finally over. After going undefeated at 17-0 in the month of January, the Atlanta Hawks’ 19-game winning streak came to an end in their first game of February, a 115-100 loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans.
Throughout the streak, given the quality of opponents and the consistency of their effort, it seemed at times like the Hawks might never lose again. But they could never get it going against the Pelicans, whose offense looked as good as it has all year. The loss drops the Hawks to 40-9, which is still the best record in the league.
The winning streak put the Hawks on the map nationally. Mike Budenholzer is the frontrunner at this point to win Coach of the Year because of the way he’s gotten the entire roster to buy into a star-less structure that’s as fun to watch as it is fundamentally sound. They got three All-Stars for a reason.
It may end up being better for the Hawks in the long run that their streak came to an end. They won’t catch the 2013 Heat or the 1972 Lakers in the history books, but remember how suffocating the coverage of the Heat’s streak was by the time it came to an end? The players were burned out from trying to keep the streak going. Ending it now takes all of that pressure off the Hawks to remain unbeatable in the regular season. They’re still, by some distance, the best team in the East so far and barring a total collapse, they should be a huge threat in the playoffs. But now, the spotlight is off them and they can just keep doing what they do.