City Sports Report

The Atlanta Hawks Have Some Competition In The East

Al Horford and the Hawks have some challengers coming for them (photo via www.usatoday.com)

The NBA season has reached the halfway point of the NBA season and if you look at the Eastern Conference, there are is an unexpected leader there. The Atlanta Hawks are on fire and leading the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Their style of constant motion, three-point marksmanship and overall team play has been dominant versus teams from the Eastern and Western Conference. But going forward, can we expect these teams to finish at the top?

The current landscape in the East is full of landmines for the Hawks. So far, the Hawks have withstood any and all challenges that have come their way. But as we ease into the second half of the season, there will be some challengers begin to get it together even more than they have it now. Three teams in particular will be huge road blocks for the Hawks. The Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards are all teams that can cause issues for the Hawks when it gets to crunch time. The Bulls, with their length and depth, probably pose the biggest threat to Atlanta. Their big man tandem of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah can beat up the Hawks smaller lineup on the boards and can punish them inside on post ups. But just like the Hawks could face trouble against the Bulls, Chicago will have trouble defending a team that has so many players that can step out and space the floor. And the biggest wildcard in a Hawks/Bulls matchup is always the health of the Bulls, and in particular, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. If the Bulls are healthy and ready to play, they could win the East. But health will always be the question until proven otherwise.

As far as the Hawks and a potential matchup against the Washington Wizards, the same issues the Hawks would have against the Chicago Bulls would arise again. The Wizards big man tandem of Nene and Marcin Gortat can be quite destructive in the paint. Those two together against Paul Milsap and Al Horford would be a disadvantage for the Hawks with all that bulk. And we all know that a focused Nene could make for a long day for the Hawks. But just like the Bulls, health and the ability to adjust to the Hawks unconventional lineup can cause the Wizards issues. The biggest injury concerns for the Wizards are guard Bradley Beal and the aforementioned Nene. Both have had injury problems hit them from time to time. And with Beal, he has been fighting injuries for what seems like his entire career to date. If these two could stay healthy, then there is no limit to the damage the Wizards could do. And the fact that they have veteran small forward Paul Pierce as a new dimension for this team makes them even more dangerous when it comes to playoff time.

The Bulls and the Wizards are definitely bigtime contenders, but let’s not leave out the Cleveland Cavaliers in this equation. A month and a half ago, many would have thought it was crazy for anyone to mention the Cavaliers in any talk of winning the East. That is how terrible they were playing at that time. But with the trades for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and center Timofey Mozgov, it seems like the Cavs have added the right pieces for their team. The Cavs are starting to get their chemistry as they head down the back half of the season. But when you match this team against the Hawks, there may have the same issue as the Bulls and the Wizards. Against the Hawks, Mozgov would more than likely have to play less minutes. The matchup of him versus Al Horford would not be in Mozgov’s favor. But the good thing about the Cavs is they can actually go smaller and put forward Kevin Love at the center position. There will be a price to pay if the Cavs make that adjustment though. Love is not the great defensive player and he can give up some offensive rebounds as well. That would be to the advantage of the Hawks to have him out there as their center. But the big thing the Cavs had that the rest of the league does not is LeBron James. He can play the power forward position in a smaller lineup and that would cause some serious issues for the Hawks. But ultimately, the spacing the Hawks have could wear out the Cavaliers.

The Bulls, Cavaliers and Wizards can all pose threats to the Hawks’ supremacy in the East. But the Hawks have the spacing and the shooting that can do serious damage to the teams that are chasing them. Ultimately, it comes down to how well the Hawks shoot the basketball. If they shoot it well, then they are extremely dangerous. But if they aren’t hitting their shots, their task becomes that much tougher against these three teams. The Hawks are primarily a jump-shooting team and that usually does not bode well in the playoffs. Which team will be able to take advantage of the Hawks when it gets to the playoffs? Will it be the Bulls, the Cavs or the Wizards? Only time will tell if they can or if the Hawks are the real deal when it comes to postseason play.

For more sports talk, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General.

7 Comments

  1. DC Hendrix

    February 21, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Good stuff again MP! Don’t think Atlanta can keep it up. When playoff time comes, they will be exposed. Not first round, but when they match-up versus Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, or Washington. Toronto destroyed them last night.

    • Mike Patton

      February 21, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      I still have my questions about Toronto even after the blowout last night vs the Hawks.

      • DC Hendrix

        February 21, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Oh I absolutely agree. May be just me — but I still question Atlanta as well. May sound silly since we are halfway through season, but honestly don’t think Atlanta can compete in a seven-game series versus Cle or Chi. A series versus Washington or Toronto is a toss up for me.

        • Mike Patton

          February 21, 2015 at 9:02 pm

          Toronto is questionable to me and the Hawks bother me because they live by the jumper. Thing is, you can die by the jumper too.

  2. DC Hendrix

    February 21, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Nonetheless, quality material my man. Keep grinding.

  3. ASR

    February 21, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Raptors will be a tough out. DeRozan being out hurt the offense and not to mention their deep bench. The Hawks, Wizards, The Bulls, Toronto, Cavs and my sleeper is Milwaukee.

  4. Lee Love

    February 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    the race to the playsoffs will be very interesting I’m impressed with the regular season Hawks but we’ll see what happens in post season when the long jumpers are falling all is good but can it last that’s the question, it is stated best health is a big factor for the Bulls they are a strong contender if healthy, Cavs are coming on the addition of Shumpert & JR Smith has been good for the Cavs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>