Atlanta Hawks: Best, Worst, and Likely Paths to Finals

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Realistic Best Case Scenario

Let’s be real. Cleveland could be scary good and will likely finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2015-16. That’s not the end of the world, as Atlanta Hawks HC Mike Budenholzer comes from San Antonio, a place where you only have to win 50 games a year to contend for an NBA Championship.

So let’s assume the Atlanta Hawks repeat as Southeast Division Champions in 2016 and finish as a 2 or 3 seed. For the sake of simplicity, we finish with the second best record in the East behind only Cleveland in 2016.

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Our ideal 7-seed matchup could be any number of teams. I’d like to see us face the Indiana Pacers here. It would reignite a budding rivalry in the East, being the 3rd time in 4 years the Hawks and Pacers have met in the first round. Pacers HC Frank Vogel wants to play small ball after several years of winning with bruisers like Roy Hibbert and David West. I doubt Paul George can survive playing an 82 game season at Power Forward, let alone a playoff run, coming off that gruesome of a leg injury. Vogel plans to do this. We’ll see.

In Round Two, Atlanta would draw the winner of the 3-6, probably a rematch between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks. Should Giannis Antetokounmpo develop an outside shot, Jabari Parker stays healthy, and Michael Carter-Williams shows us he’s the next Jason Kidd, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Milwaukee Bucks knock off the rival Bulls in the first round. Though Milwaukee is immensely talented on defense, I don’t think that have the offensive firepower to contend with Atlanta in a seven-game series.

Look, unless Miami, Toronto, or Washington do something crazy in the 1-4/5 series, we’re playing the Cavs in the Finals. For Atlanta to win this series with Cleveland, health would have to help Atlanta and hamstring Cleveland, a bigger discrepancy than last year. The Hawks would miraculously steal one of the first two games of the series on the road and then would have to win their three home games in the series. Atlanta would have to beat Cleveland in either six or seven games to win the East. Best Case Scenario.

Realistically, Atlanta’s best case scenario to the NBA Finals is to beat #7 Indiana convincingly in Round One, mount the #6 Bucks in five in the Semis, and spoilt the Top-Seeded Cavs in 6 or 7 games.

Next: Worst Case Scenario