Reaching the NBA Finals a Must for the Atlanta Hawks


The Atlanta Hawks finished their season going a franchise-best 60-22 and securing the best record in the Eastern Conference. All season long this squad has provided exciting team-oriented basketball and gained the fans’ attention with big wins, earning the title from many of “best Hawks team ever.”

What is that really saying?

Yes, this team has offered the best Atlanta Hawks regular-season record ever. Yes, this Hawks team may feature one of the budding (no pun intended) NBA minds  as a head coach. Yes, what this team has accomplished with the roster it has surely is incredible. But in order to be the “best Hawks team of all time” should they not have to prove it in the playoffs?

The team provided exciting moments for fans this year. They went 3-1 against the Cleveland Lebron-aliers, they took out the Golden State Warriors in front of a packed house in Atlanta and they went undefeated in the month of January.

All this just to say what happens if they are eliminated in the second round? The Hawks take on the  Brooklyn Nets (38-44) in the first round and even if the Nets played their best basketball of the season the Hawks should have no trouble getting to the second round, barring unforeseen circumstances.

The Hawks went 4-0 against the Nets this season, and frankly if healthy are in a different class than their first round opponent. Most likely, that would set up a second round matchup with the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors have been trouble for the Hawks literally since the season’s opening bell, defeating the Hawks on opening night. The Hawks do have one lopsided victory over the Raptors to their credit, but Toronto has shown they are not to be taken lightly.

If the Raptors, who would still be an underdog most likely, were to eliminate the Hawks could Atlanta still claim the “best team in franchise history” title? An argument can be made, since the Atlanta franchise has never made it past the second round, that this is indeed true.

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I maintain that in order to really be the best team in franchise history, to really make a difference in the direction and future of this team, it cannot end there. Not only must they make mincemeat of the Nets and then top Toronto, but the Hawks must then win the Conference title and represent the East in the NBA Finals.

Yes, this would be a monumental leap for a franchise that has often been a cellar-dweller, but to change the culture and the franchise expectations, you must win when in counts the most.

Let’s assume the Hawks opponent would be the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. In spite of Atlanta’s success over Cleveland throughout the regular season, it is hard to envision a scenario where the Hawks would be favored to take out the likes of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

All season long the mantra of the sporting world towards the Hawks has been “yea but can they really win in the playoffs?” Overcoming odds all season, I think it is fair to say the Hawks have already proven they are capable of more than they are given credit.

Winning the conference would certainly put this franchise over the proverbial hump in the minds of many across the board and gain plenty of goodwill for the organization. Only then can they truly be the “best Hawks team ever.”

Of course, once in the Finals, why not win them?