The Atlanta Hawks came into the NBA Playoffs as the East’s number one seed after they secured a record of 60-22, earning them home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference. Their first round match-up against the Brooklyn Nets looked like a cake-walk on paper, the Nets are full of under-achieving, older stars (Deron Williams and Joe Johnson come to mind) and they could not maintain a record above .500 (38-44).

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The Hawks play a team game that relies on passing and ball movement, and Coach of the Year winner Mike Budenholzer had his team playing great basketball the whole year, except the last month and a half. Over that time period the Hawks were an average team, who dealt with injuries and looked as if they were plateauing before the season came to an end.

Most predicted a clean four-game sweep, but the Nets battled and played up to their talent level for a change. Deron Williams looked like the Utah Jazz version, if only for one game (game four), and Brook Lopez caused serious issues for the Hawks in the paint. Ultimately, The Hawks won the series in six games.

The Hawks have a team worthy of making an Eastern Conference run, but they will need their starters to come up with big performances. Too often in the first round, Hawks starters were non-existent. In each of the six games at least one starter vastly underperformed.

Game 1 (W)- Paul Millsap 6 points
Game 2 (W)- Demarre Carroll 2 points
Game 3 (L)- Kyle Korver 2 points
Game 4 (L)- Jeff Teague 5 turnovers
Game 5 (W)- Paul Millsap 10 points
Game 6 (W)- Jeff Teague 0 points

The Hawks will play the #5 seed Washington Wizards who swept the Toronto Raptors and looked dominant in those four performances. The Hawks will need to play better if they want to make their first Eastern Conference Finals in the team’s history since moving to Atlanta in 1968.

(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster)

 

Although the Hawks the will have home-court, I would not be surprised if the Wizards are favored to win the series. The NBA is reliant on stars in order to win in the playoffs, and the Wiz have Wall, Beal, and the veteran Paul Pierce, while Atlanta has a lot of great players, none are considered “stars”.

I think the Hawks and Wizards will be an intense series with the Hawks winning in seven games, matching up with either the Cavs or Bulls.

Dan Schalk is the Founder of MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @ffsportstalk

Dan SchalkAnalysisBasketballNBAAtlanta Hawks,Brooklyn Nets,NBA,NBA Playoffs,Washington WizardsThe Atlanta Hawks came into the NBA Playoffs as the East's number one seed after they secured a record of 60-22, earning them home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference. Their first round match-up against the Brooklyn Nets looked like a cake-walk on paper, the Nets are full of under-achieving,...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?