Hawks Make Statement in Game One
Many people doubted Atlanta when they took the future World Champion Celtics to seven games in the first round last year. Many people doubted Atlanta when they started hot two years in a row. Many people doubted Atlanta for spending so much money on Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby. Many people doubted Atlanta would make the playoffs this year. When they made the playoffs, many people doubted Atlanta had a chance, even with home court advantage and healthy players. Many people were wrong.
Atlanta came to play on Sunday night, showing everyone that last year was no fluke. The crowd at Phillips Arena was electric, supporting their side in complete domination of Miami. The only teams that looked better in their first round wins were the top two teams of each conference, the teams most have picked to meet in the NBA finals.
While everyone was concentrating on Dwayne Wade being in the same breath as Kobe and LeBron in the MVP talks, Atlanta showed the country Sunday night that teams are not built on one player. The Hawks completely dominated the Heat, holding them to 64 points on less than 37% shooting. Mike Woodson has preached defense from the very beginning of his tenure, and it is finally starting to pay off in Atlanta. The other thing that has started to pay off is patience. Patience with Marvin Williams. Patience with the coaching staff. Patience with philosophies. And most importantly, grueling patience from the fans.
The young Hawks have finally arrived. They have a legitimately good team who may actually win a few games in the playoffs. Don’t look now, but they may even win a series. Granted, this thing is far from over and Miami is a much better team than they played, but in the last two years Atlanta has looked amazing at home, against both Miami and Boston. This year, with the ability to win a series just by playing at home, they have instantly become much more dangerous.
Running through the stats on this game seems completely pointless, since, as the scoreboard reflected, the game was dominated in every way by the Hawks. The key now will be for the team to realize that it was just one game and anything can happen the rest of the way. Miami could wake up and make this a series, or the team can lie down and let the Hawks run all over them. Things could get very interesting or they could get very boring. In one of the most intriguing, toss-up series heading in, Atlanta certainly made a major statement out of the gates. Now we’ll see just what Miami has in the tank.