First things first: I want the Atlanta Hawks to make the playoffs.
Having said that, allow me then to say this: I do not want the Atlanta Hawks to make the playoffs.
OK, maybe that wasn't exactly coherent, but let me explain before I get accused of being schizophrenic.
I like the Hawks, a young up-and-coming team with exciting athletes and a leader in Joe Johnson. I told my friends at the start of the season that I knew the Hawks will finally make the playoffs this year. I believe if they keep this core intact, they can be a force to be reckoned with in the next five years when their key players hit their primes.
For this year, however, I would prefer they did not make the playoffs.
I do not for the life of me see this Hawks team giving the Boston Celtics much of a challenge in the first round. So, it most likely will be four and done for this young Hawks team.
As an NBA fan, I would enjoy the playoffs more if there were no lopsided matchups. Granted, the Celtics will most likely run through the first couple of rounds. But, would it not be a much better proposition to have the New Jersey Nets face the Celtics in the first round?
Yes, I said it. The Nets will be a better matchup against this dominant Boston team! Let me break it down.
Go-to-guy: Say what you want about Vinsanity, but he is a proven scorer in the playoffs and is not afraid to take the big shots. As good as JJ is, he has not proven to be in Carter's level in terms of big game cajones yet. Against with Ray Allen, I think we'll see vintage Vince Carter take his game up a notch in the playoffs. Advantage: NETS
Second banana: I love Josh Smith all-around game especially how he affects the defensive end with timely steals and athletic blocks. But he can be inconsistent and his immaturity can blow up at the wrong time under the pressure of the playoffs. On the other hand, the Nets have RJ, a consistent albeit unspectacular second option who plays hard on both ends. He also has shown an ability to get to the free-throw line and make them when it counts, something crucial in the playoffs. Advantage: NETS
Point guard: Mike Bibby has been under the bright lights of the finals, West finals that is. He has a strong track record of hitting big shots and rarely makes mistakes in critical situations. For the Nets, the younger Devin Harris may have less big games under his belt, but he did play in the Finals two years ago and played pretty well. In a match-up with Boston's Rajon Rondo, I think Devin's length and speed would cause just as much problems for the Celtics as Bibby's shooting stroke. Advantage: EVEN
Supporting cast: The Hawks have Marvin Williams, JChill, Horford, Acie Law, and Pachulia. The Nets have Nenad Krstic, Boki Nachbar, Josh Boone, Marcus Williams, and Sean Williams. Both teams have bench scoring and rebounding. Where the Nets have the upper hand is their frontcourt. Krstic can score inside, giving the Nets a balanced attack. And, their bigs (including Diop and Stromile Swift) allow them to throw different defensive looks at Garnett. Add veterans Trenton Hassell and Darrell Armstrong and the Nets supporting cast obviously seem more battle-tested and playoff ready. Advantage: NETS
There you have it.
Unless the Hawks will be facing a different opponent altogether, I really hope the Nets rally to get the 8th seed and give the Celtics a run for their money. At the very least, we will have an entertaining, well-matched series.
As for the Hawks, well there is always next year.