The Atlanta Hawks are proving again this year that they should be considered as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the NBA.
First-year head coach Larry Drew is continuing the team’s winning ways with a 33-19 record through 52 games this season. If the Hawks continue this type of success, Atlanta will lock up a playoff spot and home-court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.
Atlanta is currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast Division. With 31 games left on their schedule, the Hawks can either improve their place in the East, or falter at the end of season and miss out on home-court advantage.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat have been leading the Eastern Conference this season, but the 2-5 seeds are all within striking distance. The Hawks for instance, are only five games back of the conference leading Celtics, and have only a one-and-a-half game lead on the fifth place Orlando Magic.
Both Miami and Orlando are in the Southeast with the Hawks. Atlanta has three more games against these two conference foes; two versus Miami and one against Orlando, and all three are at home.
However, it is not whether or not the Hawks make the playoffs, which they must do; It is what they do in the playoffs when they get there. After all, Atlanta’s former head coach Mike Woodson was relieved of his duties after another dismal showing in the playoffs.
In his best season during his six-year tenure, Woodson led the Hawks to 53 wins and a third place finish in the Eastern Conference. But the Hawks would stumble again through the first round of the playoffs and get embarrassed in the playoffs.
The problem with Atlanta was their stagnant offense, mainly because of the philosophy to isolate Joe Johnson and let him try and go 1-on-5 with the other Hawks players watching.
Now with Drew, Woodson’s assistant, the problem has appeared to be solved with his egalitarian style of offense. It is still the same players but they are now working in a system that is allowing the Hawks to meet their full potential. Here are some numbers that have stood out for the Hawks this season.