I’ve decided to take a different approach to a preview for today, and wanted to look at how the Atlanta Hawks have fared for the season. As editor of Always Miller Time, they have not been on my radar during the season, so I figured what better authority than the editor of Soaring Down South. I got in touch with him and asked some questions about the Hawks and how their season has been and a prediction for the playoffs.
How would you rate the Atlanta Hawks’ season?
1. I would give the Atlanta Hawks’ season a B+. After trading away the team’s best scorer in Joe Johnson and best wing defender in Marvin Williams back in July, no one really expected too much of the Hawks this season (like always). But yet here there are again, back in the playoffs for the sixth straight season — tied for the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference along with the Boston Celtics. Al Horford rebounded from an injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign in which he only played three games and has had a stellar 2012-13 season, averaging 17.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg, while posting 43 double-doubles — sixth best in the NBA. Josh Smith had a few up-and-downs but has played pretty well overall, Jeff Teague continues to improve, rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott are developing, and the bench steadily gives the team key contributions. Winning 44 games in a “rebuilding” year is pretty damn good too.
What are the expectations for the post season?
2. The expectations for the post-season are just to play hard and give Indiana all they could handle, while winning a few games of course. Most people don’t think the Hawks can get the upset against the Pacers, but if the guards can get out in transition, and Josh Smith and Al Horford utilize their versatility, they’ll create big problems for Indiana.
Who will have the biggest impact in the playoffs?
3. Kyle Korver. In both Hawks wins during the regular-season, Korver averaged 14.5 points on 50 percent shooting from deep. He’s Atlanta’s main perimeter scoring threat and will need to hit his jumpers in order to free up the inside for Josh Smith and Al Horford to do damage in the paint. Korver is also a very underrated defender and will have his hands full guarding the dynamic Paul George or speedy Lance Stephenson on defense.
How can the Atlanta Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers in the first round?
4. The Atlanta Hawks can beat the Indiana Pacers if they’re able to get out in the open court through transition and space the floor for their jump-shooters. If Jeff Teague and Devin Harris can do a good job of pushing the tempo, it mitigates one of the best things about Indiana which is their tough defense. Pick-and-rolls will also be crucial as Atlanta’s speedy guards will be able to take the Pacers’ bigs off the dribble on a switch or dish it Josh Smith and Al Horford who can both knock down that mid-range pick-and-pop.
What’s your prediction for this series?
5. Hawks in 6. Atlanta and Indiana met four times in the regular-season and split the series 2-2 with the home team winning each game. If the Hawks can steal one of the first three in Indy and take care of business at home in Games 3 and 4, they’ll have the opportunity to win the series back at home in Game 6. If that happens, Philips Arena will be rocking and I like the chances of them closing the deal and rewarding the fans with a trip to the second round.
Editor-in-Chief, Soaring Down South