Keith Rivas: While the Hawks have been solid as of late, particularly a reference to their 13-game winning bonanza, I don’t feel that they will have deep playoff success, or at least not this year, and I have my reasons. One big one is that the Hawks don’t have much experience going deep in post-season play to begin with.
This lack of experience, especially now having to go against a loaded Cavs team, talented Bulls squad, and hungry foes like the Raptors and Wizards, the Hawks are going to have a lot on their plate when it matters most. Based on the overall chemistry of the team, I think they will make it close no matter who they play, but that doesn’t always result in victory–especially in the playoffs.
I see them going into the second round of this year’s playoffs, and falling to either the Bulls or the Cavaliers. Sometimes the best raw talent in the league can outperform even the most sudden and energetic bursts of good basketball.
Jeb Taylor: The Atlanta Hawks have been flying high lately, but when it comes playoff time, their wings will be clipped. In the regular season, with players across the league achy and giving 75 percent effort, their distributed scoring is very effective. They have and will continue to be the best team in the Eastern Conference Finals in the regular season.
But when it’s all about winning four games come playoff time, they have neither the star power nor the experience to get the job done. In the playoffs, I believe they are the 3rd most likely team to represent the East in the Finals behind the Bulls and the Cavaliers. The Bulls have a stout defense and new-found star Jimmy Butler, while the Cavs have the best player in the world in LeBron James. The Hawks share the ball, play good defense, and do everything on the hardwood pretty well, but when they’re down 1-point in the playoffs with 10 seconds to go, do they have a go-to scorer to go get them a basket and a win?
Jr. Williams: People underestimated this team last year, and even after they went 38-44 during the 2013-14 NBA season, they still found a way to push the Indiana Pacers to the brink of elimination during the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Hawks have figured it out this season– their ball rotation is arguably the best in the East while their roster is complete with savvy veterans with PLENTY of postseason experience. If health prevails, I can’t see where any team can overtake their stance as No.1 in the East, but lets revisit their apparent lack of playoffs experience that the both of you mentioned earlier.
Four out of five players in the Hawks starting line-up have at least five years postseason experience– Al Horford (four years playoffs experience), Jeff Teague (five years playoffs experience), Kyle Korver (eight years playoffs experience), and Paul Millsap (six years playoffs experience). Thabo Sefolosha and Elton Brand also add an average of five years postseason experience to a team that rank among the top-10 in the league in assists and points per game.
In essence, the Atlanta Hawks have more than enough players to have tasted the sweet nectar of postseason success. The Hawks have the perfect balance of elite players and supporting cast required to make some serious noise come playoffs time, and don’t be surprised if they reach the Eastern Conference finals– this team is just that deep.