Atlanta Hawks: Eastern Conference Power Rankings, Dec. 17

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Dec 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) shoots the ball against the Miami Heat in the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Heat defeated the Hawks 100-88. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

team. 38. . . Previous: . Orlando Magic. 9

I think the Orlando Magic are for real. The Scott Skiles effect has done wonders for this young Magic team. However, I do want to see how they look when they face the Atlanta Hawks here shortly. They’ve brought Victor Oladipo off the bench as a sixth man and it seems to work. That’s the kind of moves Skiles always seems to make to get his teams playing better.

Orlando is probably not the worst team in the Southeast anymore, but are they better than Atlanta, Charlotte, or Miami yet? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean that the Magic can’t make the playoffs albeit a year early in 2016 as either as 7th or 8th seed.

18. . . Previous: . Boston Celtics. 8. team

Boston’s physicality, coaching, and high floor give them the edge to make the playoffs again under head coach Brad Stevens. General Manager Danny Ainge will likely make a move with a non-contending team to acquire a former All-Star to hopefully get the Celtics over the top and into the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

They’re the second best team in the Atlantic behind Toronto and that should stand as enough to get them into the playoffs. However, are they significantly better than the fourth best teams in the Central (Detroit) and the Southeast (Orlando)? At this moment, just slightly.

team. 125. . . Previous: . Atlanta Hawks. 7

The Atlanta Hawks look more like the middle of the pack team they have been the last decade than the Eastern juggernaut they were last season. Streaky shooting, inconsistent point guard play, and a drop off in perimeter defense has put the Hawks fighting for a playoff spot.

However, given that the Atlanta Hawks’ second half schedule is a more favorable one than their start, they should claw their way back towards the top of the conference at the end of the day. The Hawks haven’t played great but are only three games back of first place in the East and only a game a half back of home court advantage in the first round.

Next: Tier II: Eastern Conference Finals Ceiling