Will the Real Atlanta Hawks Please Stand Up?

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent IFebruary 23, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Mike Bibby #10 of the Atlanta Hawks is defended by Chris Hunter #31 of the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena at Oracle Arena on February 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Man, oh man the Atlanta Hawks love to be a mystery.

Following a loss to the Western Conference’s 14th place team on Sunday night, the Hawks had to travel to Utah to play against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Western Conference’s third place Utah Jazz.

The Hawks managed to blow an 18-point lead at Golden State on Sunday and had to end their four-game road trip against a Utah Jazz team that had previously won 17 of its last 19 games.

Not only did the Hawks lose to one of the NBA’s second worst team, but the Warriors only had just eight healthy players and still managed to complete a successful comeback against the Hawks.

After that performance, it didn’t seem likely that the Hawks would end their road trip with a win over the Jazz. Also, Atlanta had not won in Utah since 1993, and was playing their third game in just four days. Needless to say, a win over the Jazz was not expected.

While the win over the Jazz looks good on the Hawks’ 2009-2010 season resume, it does come with a small asterisk. The Jazz were without two starters. Both Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko did not dress because of injuries.

The Hawks have just 27 games left, and have no more time to waste with losses to weaker competition. At 35-20 on the season, Atlanta is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and could easily move into second place with a strong finish to the season.

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They only trail the Boston Celtics by half-a-game for third place, and are just two games behind the Orlando Magic in second place.

In their 27 games that are left, 14 of them are against non-playoff teams, and seven of their 13 games against playoff teams are at Philips Arena. This leaves the Hawks with an exceptional opportunity to make a strong run at the East’s No. 2 spot and a more favorable postseason journey.

But all of that is up to the team, and which one will show up to the gym for these last 27 games. If it is the same team that lost to the Warriors, then the Hawks could end up slipping down the Eastern Conference totem poll.

Right now the Hawks still find themselves in pretty good position in the East. They still have a four-game lead over the Toronto Raptors for their fourth place spot, and, as mentioned earlier, are still battling out the “Big Three”.

The 27 games left leaves the door open for both good and bad possibilities for Atlanta. They still have time to beat out the “Big Three”, but there is also enough season left to be played for them to move backwards because of underachieving play.

Hopefully the real Atlanta Hawks will stand up.