It seems like the world won’t take the Atlanta Hawks seriously until they achieve a significant feat in the postseason. Somehow this team is in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, notching the first seed in the Eastern Conference at 31-8, yet not too many people believe they’re a legitimate contender.
Remember last season when the Indiana Pacers said that home-court advantage would enable them to beat the Miami Heat in a seven-game series in route to the Finals? Well, not only was this inaccurate, but the Hawks did take them to seven games and nearly beat them. In fact, after five games, the Hawks led the series 3-2.
Many attributed this to ineptitude on the side of Indiana, but was this also the foreshadowing of things to come for Atlanta? The Hawks are exceeding expectations beyond words can explain – absolutely no one picked them to be this good. So, what exactly has been the source of this early prosperity?
Under Mike Budenholzer, a proud disciple of the great Gregg Popovich, the Hawks rank ninth in the league in total offense, scoring 103.1 points per contest, on a fifth best 46% shooting. From three-point range, they’re second in the NBA at 38 percent.
Doesn’t this sound Spurs-like? Ask LeBron James – he said they play just like the defending champs. This team doesn’t have a surplus of superstars. In fact, they probably don’t even have a single one. The Hawks are getting major contributions from players who won’t be mentioned during barbershop conversations, or used during “blacktop” pick-up games in 2K.
Dallas, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles (Clippers), Portland, Memphis, and Washington all saw firsthand how well this team plays together. Atlanta, during their amazing start this season, is scratching and clawing for some well deserved recognition.
The naysayers can spew comments like, “Who cares about offense? We all know that defense wins championships.” Really? Well, they’re second in the NBA in that category too.
How about, “They’re the Hawks. They have a bunch of no-names.” That may be true from the standpoint of publicity. Teague, Milsap,Hortford, Korver, and Carroll may not jump up at you. But if they’re going to continue winning games, they deserve an enormous amount of credit.