Hawks-Cavs: Are There Any Positives for Hawks' Fans

Jack BenderCorrespondent IMay 8, 2009

ATLANTA - MAY 03:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks takes a moment and looks up with less than a minute to play against the Miami Heat during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Philips Arena on May 3, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks defeated the Heat 91-78. 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)

What can I say; I am transplant Northerner who has become a Hawks’ fan.  I watched probably 70 percent of their games on television this year and would have watched more if not for family considerations.

I have no affiliation with the team, but I am disappointed and embarrassed.  I was so frustrated this morning on my drive to work that I wrote an e-mail (I never do that) to the 790 the Zone guys complaining that they were being too hard on the Hawks.  They were just venting like I wanted to.

The fact is that anyone that followed the NBA this season knows that the Hawks were a distant fourth-place team in the Eastern Conference.  Orlando, Cleveland, and Boston were all much better.  But, this series is really all about Lebron James.  If the Hawks had Lebron and the Cavs had Joe Johnson, the roles in this series would be totally reversed.

You cannot discount the Hawks’ injuries to key players Marvin Williams and Al Horford.  Williams is arguably the best option for Coach Mike Woodson to put on Lebron.  Horford is the best Hawks defender and best against the screen-and-roll play.

A fully healthy Hawks team clicking on all cylinders probably would not be able to beat this Cavaliers team led by Lebron.  With that being said, here are my four positives (I am too angry at the Hawks lack of effort and fight to come up with five) that demoralized Hawks fans can use against the boisterous cacophony of negativity that is the city of Atlanta right now:

1.  Joe Johnson just had the greatest individual Game Seven performance in the history of the Atlanta Hawks.   Joe really came up strong in the biggest win the Hawks have had since the days of Dominique Wilkins.  I know he has been disappointing in the Cavs series, but Delonte West always gives him a tough matchup.  West has been locking up the other team’s best player all season.

2.  Next year should be a break out year for Al Horford.  Horford is the youngest of the Hawks young guns, but he is the most mature, most committed to defense, and most dedicated to winning.  This guy is a proven winner.  He has huge upside.  If I were the Hawks, I would have Horford working on his package of offensive moves all summer.  He should have a monster year next season.

3.  The Hawks are in great position for this offseason to make moves to improve the team.  Sure, there are tough decisions that are going to have to be made, but the Hawks have some very favorable assets to trade.  I think Childress is coming back.  Bibby’s $15 million comes off the books.  Joe is going to be solid for the rest of his contract. 

4.  We finally have seen flashes of what Josh Smith could be.  I really am tired of people saying how young he is.  He is the same age basically as Lebron!  Smith’s upside is huge.  He still can get much better.  That is a scary thought.  He is kind of a bargain at $58 million.  That is a really scary thought.  I might trade him though for the right deal.

Hawks fans must keep the faith going into the game tomorrow night.  If the Hawks can win, we have a series.  If the Hawks lose, look for an article from me next week about what the Hawks need to do this offseason.

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