The Atlanta Hawks are officially the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the NBA. This is also the best 60-game start in franchise history (48-12); they went undefeated in the month of January (17-0); and they also are 10 games ahead of the next best team in the Eastern Conference, Toronto Raptors. The Atlanta Hawks have been the surprise, feel-good team of the season. But, are they a title contender? My answer is yes. I am dubbing the 2014-2015 Hawks as the “2013-2014 Spurs 2.0.” If you watch a Hawks game, their ball movement is artistic. Almost like the Spurs last season. You can say that these 2 teams are similar for good reason. Mike Budenholzer (Hawks head coach) was an assistant to Gregg Poppovich (Spurs head coach) since 1998 before grabbing the head coach job for the Hawks.
The Hawks have been criticized that because they are in the weaker conference, they have the best record. If they were in the stronger half of the league, they wouldn’t fare as well. However, that’s not true. According to SportsCenter, as of March 4, 2015, the Hawks have a 17-4 record against Western Conference opponents. It is the best record against West teams. I’d say that they would do fine if they were somehow put into the Western Conference. Per NBA.com, the Hawks are 3rd best in defensive efficiency and 6th in offensive efficiency. Those are elite numbers. And lets not forget about “Playoff Teague.” He was given that nickname for his postseason play. He is known to take over games and turn into an absolute monster during the postseason.
The Hawks are practically a lock to make the Eastern Conference Finals. There is no team other than the Cavs (maybe) that can take Atlanta in a seven game series. All in all, I believe that the Atlanta Hawks are a title contender and people need to stop sleeping on the Hawks.
-Brian Nguyen LRHS