A lot of questions rise after the difficult end to the Atlanta Hawks 2014-2015 season. Atlanta finished with the 1st seed in the East, but could not advance to the NBA Finals. Despite a valiant effort by the top team in the Eastern Conference, they ended up getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 in the conference finals. Several things went really wrong for ATL, and injuries played a huge part in their last series. It wasn’t just for the Hawks though as Cleveland was also going through some health issues during the Conference Finals.
The Hawks did end up losing a key player during the series with the Cavs (Kyle Korver), who went down due to an ankle injury he suffered in the middle of the series. Korver ended up missing the rest of the playoffs and had to undergo surgery on his ankle–best of luck to Kyle Korver next season. Also, DeMarre Carroll suffered what appeared to be a pretty bad knee injury in game 1, but this didn’t stop Carroll from playing the following game. Although he wasn’t 100 percent, he gave his best effort of guarding Cavs leader, LeBron James.
Cleveland was also rather banged up for this series, and i’m actually surprised they swept this Hawks team so easily. The Cavs lost Kevin Love early in the playoffs– last game of the first round to be exact. Cleveland didn’t seemed phased by the loss of Love though as Tristan Thompson has been a spectacular fill-in for his team. He dominated the Hawks on the offensive boards and also made them pay with an impressive amount of offensive put-backs. Another player that wasn’t healthy was Kyrie Irving, which is the most surprising part of this whole series to me. Irving is the Cavs 2nd scoring option and although he played some games, he appeared to be nothing close to his typical explosiveness. It’s incredible that this banged up Cleveland team managed to sweep Atlanta.
The Hawks have some concerns going into this off-season. The main problems revolve around the players that are free agents. All-Star Paul Millsap is one of the players that will be an unrestricted free agent, but again I think Millsap should stay because he is apart of a young and talented team with a bright future. Despite getting swept in the last round, the Hawks had an incredible season. Millsap is one of the four All-Stars in ATL’s starting lineup, he’s a crucial component to the teams success, and I think they should try to resign him at all costs.
Another player who is an unrestricted free agent is DeMarre Carroll, unfortunately, I don’t believe DeMarre is going to stay with Atlanta. ATL doesn’t have the kind of money to keep all of these players, and DeMarre Carroll is going to want more money, as he should. He’s an extremely gifted player who deserves a higher salary and I don’t think Atlanta is going to be able to provide him with that.
Do I think the Hawks are going to be a threat next year? You bet. This team has had an outstanding season. ATL was plagued by injuries at the end of the season and Cleveland capitalized on that. Jeff Teague had a phenomenal season and postseason, Al Horford also dominated all year long and did his best to lead his team. Atlanta is a great team, regardless if they lose DeMarre Carroll and/or Paul Millsap, I see this team finishing top-5 in the east next season. After the humiliating 4-0 sweep by the Cavs, the Atlanta Hawks should have the motivation and fuel to make yet another great playoff run.