Come on... Was there ever any doubt?
Anyone that knows me knows I love the Hawks. I mean the kind of Love where you deal with ten straight losing seasons just to get to the playoffs again (as a sub-.500 team), and you feel justified in never abandoning them. Not even when they met it impossibly hard, like the infamous 13-win season, or when they drafted Marvin Williams instead of Chris Paul...
I love the Hawks. They're my hometown team, they make bonehead moves, but at the end of the day I still love them. That they're finally good again, and attempting to make a move into the NBA's elite makes it all the sweeter. Their next step? Getting into the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs after last year's surprising 7-game showdown against the eventual NBA Champs, the Boston Celtics. No one gave us a chance, we closed it down on our home floor, and we pushed them to the brink (assuming you don't look at Game 7 that closely).
We started out the season scorching, 6-0, until we went to Boston to play our old pals the Celtics. Again, we pushed it to the brink, losing on a last second shot from my enemy, the bitchiest and only, Paul Pierce. We didn't get our revenge on the Celtics (getting swept in the season series 0-4), but we did firmly plant ourselves as the East's #4 seed. The only team that even made it close was Miami, led by the incredibly talented Dwyane Wade.
Most people are picking the Hawks in 6. My gut told me Hawks in 5. The season is a waste if we don't get to the 2nd round and get a chance to show ourselves against one of the East's true elite teams (Cleveland, Boston, Orlando). But everyone keeps talking about how Wade can take over a game (true) and how he has the skill to take over a series (it's a team sport, so not quite). Imagine my pleasure looking at the final score of Game 1.
It's a team playoff low for Miami. It's just the first of many steps in the Hawks' journey. We didn't keep up the intensity all game. The fourth quarter was a joke. But man if we didn't look amazing for a half and solid for another quarter. That's all we need. One game at a team, one team, one series.
We saw what happens when you let up (us vs. Boston) last year. We're not going to sleep on Wade or the Heat. But we're also not going to get pushed around. We have the personnel to destroy this team, and right now that's the goal. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are too good for the Heat to handle. And we can hurt them other ways too.
I love it.