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John Collins, Hawks

Hawks: Can John Collins save Atlanta?

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins was suspended for 25 games on November 5 for violating the NBA’s Anti-Drug Program. According to several reports, he tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2). He’s served his suspension and will play in Monday night’s game against the Cavs, but will his return to the lineup be enough to get Atlanta on the right track?

Without Collins in the lineup, the Hawks have recorded a 4-21 record. The team is currently 6-24 overall, which is fifth in the Southeast Division standings. Moreover, Atlanta has lost seven straight games. Clearly, there is room for improvement, but head coach Lloyd Pierce doesn’t want Collins to feel too much pressure in his return.

“I don’t want to put John in a position where when he comes back, he solves our communication, our energy, our everything,” Pierce said of Collins, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “John’s a great, energetic player, but he’s still a young player. He communicates and he’s bouncy and he gives us a pop, but it’s a total (team) thing. It’s everybody.”

Trae Young has been a bright spot for the Hawks this season, as he’s averaging 29.0 points per game. The second-year point guard says he’s happy to have Collins back in the fold.

“I’m super excited,” Young said, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “John’s going to help a lot. It sucks not being able to have him early on this season.”

The Hawks could use Collins’ length and production. The former Wake Forest standout has made just five appearances with the team this season, racking up averages of 17.0 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the field (47.4 percent from beyond the arc), 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 steal in 32.2 minutes per outing.

Collins says he’s ready to move past his suspension:

“Part of the deal of having to spend 25 games away from your team is not being able to enjoy those experiences that you’ve worked so hard to have and keep,” Collins said ahead of Monday night’s matchup in Cleveland. “I’m just trying to move forward from it, but it’s definitely a tough battle, mentally.”

Monday night’s matchup between the Hawks and Cavs is set to tip inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse at 7:00 p.m. ET. Cleveland will be aiming to keep their three-game winning streak alive. Atlanta, on the other hand, will simply be looking for a win.