The Hawks have won seven straight ball games all, but one, against playoff teams. In this stretch Atlanta’s defense has been stifling and has allowed only 88 ppg. After today’s game against the Cavs they have four more at home against the leagues elite.
The question today is whether these high-flying Hawks are good enough to go into Cleveland and get a win. The continue to dominate at home? This is the pre-playoff test that could catapult the Hawks into national conversation. Can they come out on top?
As the saying goes, “The sun even shines on a dog’s...on some days.”
In order for these birds to pull off the March shocker they will need to solve the labyrinth that is LeBron James without their best on-ball defender in Marvin Williams. If Mike Woodson falls into the trap of putting “our best player on their best player” I may just turn off the tv.
The Hawks MUST commit to Mo’ Evans defensively and allow Joe Johnson to assert himself on offense, because penetrating dominant defenses is not something that will be done, by just swing the ball around the perimeter.
They will need to create mismatches and force the these teams to defend at a fast pace.
An up-tempo game will be in Atlanta’s advantage. Al Horford is far to fast up and down the floor to be contained by any center in the NBA and Josh Smith is just to athletic for any power forward in the league to keep pace with.
Without Marvin Williams the Hawks will still be too athletic for the teams to get the ball to the cup. This is why they are the eighth ranked defense in the NBA. They force teams to rely on perimeter shooting. If they continue to rebound well we will see them emerge as the NBA’s BEST defense.
When the Cavs came to Atlanta a couple weeks ago, Bibby was fighting the flu and was badly bested as Mo Williams lit the Hawks up from outside. Today’s game will have a not-so-hot Mo and a healthy Bibby. I'm predicting a Hawks win, 89-81.
If the Hawks can manage 12-straight through this gauntlet or even to win four of the next five, they will have established themselves as a dominant force in the NBA and the Eastern conference discussion will need to include four teams, not three.