By Paul Sarconi
I believe there are only two types of sports fans. There are those who over react and those who react appropriately. Sports fans can’t underreact, it’s not in a fans DNA. On the topic of the Atlanta Hawks recent struggles, I thinks its appropriate to present the over reacting fans first.
Overreacting Fan: Finally, it’s panic time for the Atlanta Hawks! The squad has lost its last three games, is 5-5 in its last 10 ten and the Cleveland Cavaliers are 8-2 in that same stretch. There can only be one take away from these facts: This team is and has always been a fraud, and they are just now revealing their true colors.
Okay, now that’s out of the way it’s time to debunk that last paragraph. There are facts in there, but they are greatly misleading.
Atlanta’s Five Losses
Yes, the Hawks are 5-5 in their last ten games, and yes they have lost three straight, however there are logical explanations for the why their mini-slump.
The first game they lost was against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. While it was a shocker, consider that they rested their best player, Paul Millsap, and their best defender, DeMarre Carroll. They probably should have still won, but when you are on the road and playing against a historically bad team without your best players, it’s fairly likely that you will lose. The 76ers were hyped to show their worth, and Atlanta just wanted to get out of Philly. It is that simple.
Their next loss was against another terrible team, the Denver Nuggets. This one is a little less excusable. The Hawks were blown out 115-102. Once again, they were the road team, but this time they had everyone playing. The most shocking part about this game is that Denver was up 60-42 at half. In fact, the Hawks didn’t win a quarter until the fourth, when the game was over and Shelvin Mack, John Jenkins and Mike Muscala could chuck up shots.
And now we get to the three game losing streak. I feel there is little to say other than this: They lost on the road to the best home team in the league, the Golden State Warriors, and the best player on planet earth right now, Russell Westbrook. The Hawks other loss was at home to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. The same Spurs that catch fire around this time every year. Oh, and the Hawks coach, Mike Budenholzer, was going against his former mentor, teacher, and the best head coach in basketball in Gregg Popovich. Enough said about the Hawks three game losing streak. They are fine.
The Streaking Cavs
Yes, the Cavs are 8-2 in their last ten, and yes they are 27-7 since mid-January, but lets get real; they aren’t catching the Hawks. With roughly 12 games to go in the season, Cleveland trails Atlanta for the number one seed by 8 games. Even with the Hawks recent struggles, there is no way they lose the one seed.
From the Hawks perspective, it doesn’t matter what Cleveland is doing. They won’t likely see each other until the Eastern Conference Finals. Atlanta should be on track by then. Let’s not forget this is the same team that has already beaten Cleveland three times this year.
So to all those over-reacting sports fans, simmer down. As long as Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Demarre Carroll are healthy, this team is a leading contender to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.
Update: On Friday March 27, The Hawks beat the Miami Heat and the Cavaliers lost to the Brooklyn Nets clinching the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the Hawks.