Atlanta, GA.—At the start of the season there were only three elite eastern teams; nobody would think these teams would get swept. But, a new team has risen to take on the elites and become one of them. The Hawks are now widely considered an elite team.
If I were to tell you the Hawks would sweep the Celtics in the regular season before this season started you would call me a liar and have no sense of basketball. While that has not happened yet it just may happen tonight. Atlanta is coming off a tough loss to the Spurs from Wednesday and the Celtics are coming off an even tougher loss last night to the Magic.
At the start of the series Boston hosted the Hawks where Atlanta had never won in a long time. The Hawks beat and embarrassed the Celtics at home 97-86. One month later Boston came to Phillips Arena and got kicked out of the Arena 93-85. Just 17 days ago Atlanta went back to the Garden and again stuck it to Boston 102-96.
Boston is getting closer to topping the Hawks for the first time this season but still can't find a way to win. This game now has to be considered a big game and a rivalry. In 2007 the Hawks took the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics would go on to win the NBA title.
Last year the Hawks got better, making it into the second round of the playoffs but they still could not beat Boston at Boston.
Now they know they can and they know they can play ball with the best teams in the league. Atlanta has their sights set on their first division title since '93, and the first East title since ever. The last time the Hawks played in the NBA championship game was 1961 and that was in the western conference at that time.
But before they try to get all of that, Atlanta will look to take down an NBA giant. This sweep would certainly give the Hawks confidence going into later games knowing that they swept an elite team.