Birds Flying High

hawks

By Stefan Anderson

Following their postseason trip where they battled the #1 seed Indiana Pacers, into 7 games, the world was not on notice of how the Hawks could be build off of their success of the past, including myself. Well the Hawks are taking the league by stand again and could continue to be a force to reckon with.

The Hawks have managed to string together their last 22 of 24 games and doing it in a fashionable form. Knocking off the top tier of NBA teams in route to gaining the Eastern Conference’s best record, wins like at Cleveland, Dallas, Portland, Houston and LA, also conquering the top teams in the East, Washington and Chicago.

Atlanta has been on a tear as of late, which is surprising to most but makes sense to those who understand their style of play. With one All-Star in Pau Millsap, the Hawks do not rely on a superstar play to lead them they do it collectively.

With all five starters of Atlanta averaging double digits, they all remain second in the league with 25.4 assists per game. Under the guidance of Mike Budenholzer, a longtime assistant of Greg Popovich, the Hawks resemble the modern day Spurs, with playing great team ball and stingy defense, 4th in team defense, to win games but also providing a faster pace unlike San Antonio.

There is an old cliché that states that players play when under a contract year, with the Hawks having new ownership rumors floating around some might speculate that would be what is inspiring their latest stretch.

Whether that is true or not, Atlanta is have put together a formula to make that next step this season and I can see them knocking off a team that would have an upper advantage against them in the postseason.

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NBA Preview: Southeast Division

southeastBy Stefan Anderson

The Southeast Division provides the Eastern Conference as well the NBA with a great amount of talent and will be making its mark this season.

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are back and looking to build off their playoff success for the first time since 2009. With the Al Jefferson running the post as traditional back to basket player, with a trio of young wing players that include Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd Gilgchrist and Lance Stephenson, the buzz is definitely back in Charlotte. Rookies P.J Hariston and Noel Vonleh can provide some valuable minutes and provide that spark for their bench this season.

Charlotte has a great chance to be the winner of the Southeast Division and will make noise whether conquer the division or not.

Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta has had one the more underrated team in the past few seasons, clinching a playoff berth for the past 7 seasons. Establishing a winning culture and but failing to capitalize when they obtain the postseason success.  Adding players like Adrian Payne and Thabo Sefeloshia, give the Hawks and added presence but it will not be enough for this season especially in the Southeast division.

Atlanta should be in the hunt for the playoffs will fail to do so but expect to see them in the 9 or 10 spot competing regardless of their standing.

Miami Heat

Losing LeBron James sent shock waves but Miami did not panic. With the face of the franchise returning with his other co-star Chris Bosh, the Heat look to stay alive but not as a good as they have been for the past 4 years. Adding veterans like Luol Deng, Danny Granger, and Josh McRoberts, Miami has assembled a playoff roster this season. Rookie Shabazz Napier can bring a great impact to Miami and provide valuable minutes starting or coming off of the bench.

Miami doesn’t have much concern other than having Dwayne Wade on the court, as he’s been injured in the past few years but the supporting cast of Miami should propel to them to the playoffs.

Orlando Magic

The Magic are going to back in the same position they were in last season, rebuilding. Drafting Aaron Gordon and Alfred Payton to add along Vucevic and Oladipo give Orlando some hope for the future. The young team has promise but still have yet to add the pieces needed due to their many different reasons.

The Magic have a ways to go before reaching the success they want to see but have the potential to be there soon.

Washington Wizards

The Wiz Kids look to keep dazzling the NBA with young superstars John Wall and Bradley Beal at the helm.  Adding Paul Pierce might be just what the Wizards lack in the past season, a veteran with championship experience and can be the hand and glove fit needed.  They remain physical with Nene and Gortat, bringing many different dimensions and can make the next step this season.

The Wizards can be the other team to compete with the Bulls and Cavs this season to take the Eastern Conference.

Southeast Division Standings:

  1. Wizards(Playoff Team)
  2. Hornets (Playoff Team)
  3. Heat (Playoff Team)
  4. Hawks
  5. Magic