Two years ago, we were happy just that the Hawks made the playoffs.
Last year, we were happy that they just won a playoff series.
The consensus expectations for the Hawks this postseason is that they will have an easy time against Milwaukee in the first round and lose to Orlando in the second. Looking at the standings and the rosters — the Hawks don’t have an answer for Dwight Howard — that’s understandable.
But two things from my perspective:
♦ 1) The Hawks were a strong team down the stretch. They proved something to themselves when they beat the Magic at Philips Arena three weeks ago, as well as the Lakers a week later. Prior to the win over Orlando, they had been 0-5 against the two Eastern Conference powers, the Cavaliers (0-2) and Magic (0-3).
♦ 2) While I believe the Hawks would have a shot against Orlando in the second round, I don’t think they need to win that series to validate their season. They just need to compete — and not get smoked in four games, like the Cleveland series last year.
The big key, I believe, is the play of Joe Johnson. In any sport, your team’s best players must come through at the biggest time. Johnson was strong down the stretch for the Hawks. Needless to say, this is an important postseason for him in terms of a potential ripple effect for contract negotiations. I’ll be posting something on Johnson later today.
For now, I want to know what you think. I’ve received emails all over the board, from, “This team will be lucky to win a round,” to, “They need to get to the finals.”
Here’s the question: What is acceptable to you? I’m not asking for a prediction. I’m asking what you believe the Hawks should accomplish in the playoffs, based on what you think of the team. I’ve put up a poll but, as always, I want to see your comments. I’ll check back shortly.