It seems like every time I’m about to knock the Atlanta Hawks back in these Eastern Conference Power Rankings after a series of frustrating performances during the weekend, the Hawks will play well enough early in the work week to salvage the spot in the top three of the Eastern Conference.
While the Atlanta Hawks aren’t in the same stratosphere as either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Toronto Raptors, we still haven’t seen Atlanta play its best basketball this season, which is promising in some capacity. Maybe 2015-16 Atlanta firing on all cylinders is good enough to get back to the ECF and take a game or two from maybe Cleveland or Toronto?
The Raptors are on fire, winners of nine of their last 10 games. They are only 2.5 games back of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Standings and hold a 5.0 game lead over second place Boston in the Atlantic Division.
Toronto is one of five teams in the NBA (Cleveland, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio) that could conceivably win an NBA Championship this year. While the Raptors could end up peaking too soon, this will stand as an awful matchup for any team that plays them in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Toronto is catching up to the Cavaliers’ level of dominance in the Eastern Conference. The offense of the Cavaliers has picked up the pace under new head coach Tyronn Lue, who is coaching the East in the All-Star game by the way.
Expect Cleveland to position itself for NBA Championship contention with a trade in the next few weeks, but the Cavs do have to start considering the Toronto Raptors as a serious threat to an NBA Finals trip in the Eastern Conference Finals this season. That matchup seems inevitable.