ATLANTA – The Atlanta professional sports scene is improving this fall and winter. The Falcons are a surprising 6 and 3 and the Thrashers have been playing around .500. But the big shocker to me is the insurgent Atlanta Hawks. They have erupted to a 5 and 0 start in the young NBA season. Way to go!
The Atlanta Hawks backed into the playoffs last year, despite a losing record. They surprised the basketball world by taking the eventual champion Boston Celtics to a 7th game in the opening round of the playoffs.
But even coming off of that surprising performance, I was a doubter And despite a 5 and 0 start, I remain a doubter. I’m not an avid Hawks fan, but I check in on them periodically. In the NBA, I’m more prone to follow individuals rather than teams. For the last several years, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett have been my individuals of preference. Nonetheless, I want to give these Hawks a chance. Even though I’m a doubter now, if they continue to play well, they could make me a believer. And they could make me a fan of the team, rather than the individual players.
In Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, they have some exciting talent just now hitting its prime. Also, Marvin Williams seems finally to be producing after an underwhelming start to what I have long thought was an oversold career. And Al Horford and Mike Bibby round out a solid starting cast. They have played well in the early going against some good start-of-the-season competition (excluding their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is a team playing at a level about as ugly as the city it represents).
We’ll see if this recent run lasts. Since I have been in Atlanta, it seems just about every year the Hawks have surprised very early in the season only to wind up disappointing by the end. Prior to last season, they had not been to the playoffs since 1998. And they have not been a formidable team since the Dominique Wilkins era.
What is going to hurt them this year is that Josh Smith has already landed on the disabled list- out for 2 to 4 weeks. If this team gells in his absence and the bench fills in well, they will be quite a force upon his return. However, if they unravel in his absence, then I think we will be witnessing yet another Hawks disappointment.
Whatever the case may be, they have me watching this year. And I want to be a believer. Go Hawks!