Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” Well in the case of the Atlanta Hawks, I would have to beg to differ. The Hawks have won 16 games in a row and boast a 37-8 record which is good enough for tops in the league. They’ve beaten everyone. East, West. Good, bad. They all fall to Atlanta.
Something still isn’t right. Over the past ten years the Hawks have been a 50 win club several times, though the days of iso Joe and Mike Woodson are long gone, because it’s the Hawks one could assume to see the same result…A little above average in the regular season with below average playoff results. The current Hawks squad is a better and more efficient team than in years past, but when the post season starts I have a feeling that much won’t change.
They are doing it with team play. With Mike Budenholzer coming over from San Antonio, the system that he has put in place shows that he is a disciple of Greg Popovich. They share the ball, they play unselfish and each player is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the team – putting wins above everything else. This is the formula for winning basketball and it’s good basketball. It’s what everyone wants to see. The real meaning of what a real team should look like. It’s a cute story, but the truth of the matter is, it’s not what wins in the post season.
Even the Spurs who employ the greatest concept of team basketball maybe in the history of the NBA still have Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan – three future Hall of Famers. When things break down these guys are experienced and skilled enough to make things happen. They play within the system yes, but every team needs high caliber players if it expects to win a championship. The Hawks have Jeff Teague, Paul Milsap, and Al Horford. While these players are good, solid players, none of them have the ability to take over a game and produce guaranteed baskets and the stops that playoff basketball will require. This will be the biggest hurdle for the Hawks to overcome. They may get through a series in the East, because it’s so terrible, but once they come up against the upper echelon of the East, and the teams that have been battle tested, not having true star power will seal their fate.
You have to admire what the Hawks are doing in the regular season though. No big three, no stacking teams, Just going out and getting it done. Together. This is the way basketball should be played. Well……until May.
Check out more of Nick’s work at NBAOnlineBlog.com.