With the way the Atlanta Hawks have been playing of late, I think it’s safe to say that this team won’t be an easy out for anyone. The Hawks will go up against either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and at this point I don’t think they are intimidated by either. This is especially true after Atlanta protected their home floor for the second time with a 98-85 win over the Heat last night.
The victory against Miami put the season series at 2-2, and interestingly the Hawks won both of these games without their best player in Al Horford. You would think it’d be the opposite considering Miami usually tends to struggle against teams with dominant big men, but this was not the case. Atlanta used an offensive explosion in one win and a great defensive effort in their latest victory in order to overcome LeBron James and the Heat.
James is not the only star who has seen his team struggle against the Hawks though. Paul George and the Pacers have had their fair share of difficulties trying to defeat Atlanta as well. The season series between these two also sits at 2-2, which includes a blowout win for Atlanta in their latest battle on Indiana’s home floor. This tells me that despite the Hawks’ weak record at 37-43, they are a team that should not be taken lightly come playoff time.
Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap are more than capable of leading their team past the first round no matter which team they end up facing. Whether it be the Pacers or the Heat, the Hawks really don’t mind competing against either because they have shown what takes in order to beat the Eastern Conference‘s top two teams. In fact, I don’t think that there are many teams in the East — or the whole league for that matter — that can say they have defeated two of the NBA’s best a combined four times.
Now the NBA Playoffs may be a whole new ball game, but that doesn’t mean an upset in the first round is impossible. Atlanta can easily get the job done as long as key players step up in crunch time. A No.8 seed has defeated the No.1 seed before, so who is to say it can’t be done again?