Atlanta Hawks Play Lights-Out in Game Seven: Now You Know

Brennen SCorrespondent IMay 3, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 29:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks over and is fouled by Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Miami Heat during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Philips Arena on April 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks defeated the Heat 106-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Win 50 or more games in a season? Check.

Secure home-court advantage for the Playoffs? Check.

Win a first-round series in the postseason? Check.

With today's win against the Heat, the Hawks accomplished their final goal for the 2008-09 season.

After taking the Celtics to seven games in the 2008 Playoffs, the Hawks knew that they had something to prove this season.

They started the campaign 6-0 to prove to the rest of the NBA that they were a force to be reckoned with. As the marathon continued, the Hawks struggled on the road but backed it up with a robust 31-10 record at home.

The fact that they performed so well on their own floor made it that much more important for the Hawks to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs. But little did they know it would make all the difference come the "second season."

Each of the seven games played between the Hawks and the Heat in the first round were won by double figures; this was only the second time in NBA Playoff history that has occurred.

The Hawks dismantled the Heat in Game One, 90-64, but the Heat answered with two wins in Games Two and Three. The emphatic way in which Miami beat Atlanta in those two games put doubt into my mind, as I'm sure it did many other A-Town fans.

Nevertheless, the Hawks showed resilience and determination when they won 81-71 and 106-91 in Games Four and Five, respectively. Unfortunately, the Heat sent a message to the Hawks by winning Game Six 98-72.

So it all came down to today. Game Seven. Win or go home. Put quite simply, the success of the Hawks' season was going to be determined in this tilt.

The Hawks took an 20-18 lead to end the first period, and it was easy to assume that this game was going to be a nail-biter. However, the Hawks never looked back, and there were no more lead changes for the rest of the game.

All-Star Joe Johnson led the home team with 27 points, and the end result was a 91-78 domination of Dwyane Wade and his squad.

After 10 years without tasting victory in the Playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks came together and defined their 2008-2009 season. The future of the franchise is looking good, and if the Hawks can steal a few from the mighty Cavaliers, they could enter the 2009-2010 season with some extra swagger and a whole new set of goals.

Congratulations on a great season, Hawks. Here's to dethroning King James!


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