After looking at the numbers back on March 13, I concluded that the best outcome for the Hawks would be to draw Orlando in the first round and avoid Miami in the second. I updated the numbers for the Hawks today to reflect their rematches vs. Chicago and Philadelphia. I also added New York and Boston to the chart since it’s still conceivable the Hawks could face either of those foes in the first round.
Of the teams leading the Hawks in the East standings, the Magic still appear to be the best matchup, followed closely by Indiana. Every other matchup with the top 5 looks to be problematic.
The Sixers, currently seventh in the East but just a game behind Boston in their division, remain a terrible matchup for the Hawks. The Hawks have struggled to defend the Sixers even though they’ve managed to engage them in the low-possession games they prefer. Scoring against Philly hasn’t been easy for the Hawks, either, but at least they finally showed they could do it Saturday.
The one game against Boston showed that the Hawks labor to score against the Celtics like they usually do vs. good defensive teams. Maybe the Hawks figure it out in a series but probably best for them to avoid finding out.
Atlanta has only faced New York
once twice, and it’s difficult to discount a team that puts the best player on the floor, but it looks as if work in the Hawks’ favor if they could somehow draw the Knicks. That’s especially true if Baron Davis and Mike Bibby will be absorbing Jeremy Lin’s minutes.
As for Miami and Chicago, that beatdown from the Derrick Rose-less Bulls last threw some water on the idea that Chicago might represent a better second-round matchup for Atlanta than the Heat. The defensive strength the Hawks showed against the Bulls in the first three meetings evaporated as they couldn’t slow Chicago’s space-the-floor, share-the-ball attack without Rose.
Here are Atlanta’s updated numbers against potential playoff opponents. Keep in mind they don’t take into account factors like injuries, schedule, etc.
Hawks (7-12 vs. peer group)
|Opponent||Record vs.||Off. Eff. vs.||Def. Eff. vs.||Avg. Margin|