Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, just looking at the blog title.
Deja Vu? The edge of the coin? What is he talking about? Can we not decide on a blog title?
Well, to be honest, I couldn’t. So I decided to have my small piece of cake and eat it, too. You know, it seems like the calories tend to double that way, but…ehhh, enough rambling. Well, enough rambling in that direction, anyway.
With the Hawks facing Indiana tonight, I can’t help but get a slight sense of Deja Vu. After all, it was Indiana last season that they were in a battle with for the 8th and final spot in the playoffs. Indiana was in position to have it, but struggled through the final games of the season (key players were out with injury), and could not deliver. The Hawks, who struggled roughly just as much, managed to eke out just enough wins to more or less win the battle by default.
Want another slight touch of Deja Vu? Remember the fearless 6′3″ combo guard that Indy signed last year for the last 23 games to help keep their heads above water as much as possible? The guy who averaged 11 points and 3.5 apg for them? Yeah, he dons a Hawks uniform these days and wears the mantle of super sixth man. Imagine that. Anybody see this coming? I sure didn’t. Things have gone from a sense of Deja Vu to the outright ironic. And who could be happier about it than the Hawks themselves, and their fans.
But that was last season, when the Hawks were on the edge of the coin. Two sides to every coin, and a different coin for each situation. Last season, the Hawks danced the edge of the playoffs coin. Heads or tails. Either you’re in, or you’re not. Nothing like dancing the edge almost until the very end. But things are different now. The Hawks aren’t even on that coin anymore. And nothing has come by default, either. No, few things are better than accomplishing something by your own two hands, standing on your own two feet. Tonight, the Hawks can cement that accomplishment with a road win against Indiana. They have already accomplished other things. A winning season. An easy entry into the playoffs. But tonight, they can lock up the 4th seed.
No matter which way you slice it, that is a heck of an achievement from a team that struggled to make the playoffs last season. Fourth place? That’s a total of four whole slots above 8th, which is a slot normally reserved for the title “best of the worst.” Fourth place. You really have to let that sink in, regardless of how many wins separate the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th places. That’s also a 9 game improvement in the win column if the Hawks win tonight. Wow. How different the other side of the coin is, huh? After this, you’re talking homecourt advantage, a term or phrase not mentioned in these parts in some time.
The Hawks also have to feel that sense of Deja Vu sliding away. Indiana was a team last season that seemed to be going in the same direction. Not so at this point. When they meet on the hardwood tonight, the Hawks are dancing the edge of homecourt advantage. The Pacers? The coin they dance on is the draft lottery. And that can be a thin edge, when there are 5 teams with worse records than you (although the pack is pretty close, with the exception of Washington). It’s like two people meeting on an elevator. Going up? Going down.
Anyway, more good news for the Hawks is the return of Marvin Williams. How much he plays tonight will be interesting. How strong and healthy is his body really? Even moreso, how strong is he mentally? One of the hardest parts of coming back from an injury is being able to trust your body, and knowing what it can or cannot do. It’s a tricky thing, and you always fear the worst: re-injury. Hopefully all goes well, and Marvin is able to work himself back into the groove at a reasonable rate, while contributing to the team. I’m certain he’s anxious to get back out there, even more than we are to see him. A win tonight may open up a few more minutes for bench players, and allow the starters to get a little rest, without them getting too rusty.
It’s time to grab fourth place by the horns. The earning time is just about over. The owning time has just begun.