Poll time: Where would Hawks’ series win over Magic rank?

Record producer Jermaine Dupri was among those to witness the Hawks pull to within one win of a series upset over Orlando. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Record producer Jermaine Dupri was among those who witnessed Hawks close in on series upset over Orlando. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If the Hawks win any of the next three games — their first chance coming Tuesday night in Orlando — they’ll upset the Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs. I’m not an Atlanta native but I’ve lived here long enough to know postseason series (or game) wins are not the norm for the pro teams.

The Hawks were 9-2 underdogs to Orlando to win this series. The online sportsbook Bodog also had them at 30-1 to win in five games, 9-1 to win it in six and 20-1 to win it in seven.

Here are what I believe are the top four postseason moments/upsets. There’s room for No. 5, which we’ll get to shortly.

♦ 1.) Braves win the World Series (1995): Duh. Tom Glavine’s one-hitter and David Justice’s home run in game 6 against Cleveland gave Atlanta its only championship in the four major pro sports.

♦ 2.) Falcons go to the Super Bowl (1998): Morten Andersen kicks the field goal in overtime in the Metrodome to stun favored Minnesota and send the Falcons to their only Super Bowl.

♦ 3.) Braves go to the World Series (1991): The Braves trailed the NLCS 3-2 going back to Pittsburgh but won games 6 and 7, as Steve Avery and John Smoltz both pitched shutouts. I put this ahead of the 1992 NLCS also because it got the Braves to their first World Series.

Where would a Hawks' playoff series upset of Orlando rank? Pick your favorite.

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♦ 4.) Braves go to the World Series again (1992): Another seven-game series win, this one capped by one of the greatest comebacks of all: a three-run ninth punctuated by Francisco Cabrera’s pinch-hit, two-out, two-run single to beat the Pirates, 3-2. (Yes, Sid slid.)

So let’s look at the four pro teams.

FALCONS: Other than 1998, their biggest postseason victory probably came in 2002, when they won the wild card game in an upset at Green Bay 27-7, with Michael Vick outplaying Brett Favre. The runner-up would be in 1991 when Jerry Glanville’s 10-6 team upset 11-5 New Orleans on the road 27-20.

HAWKS: As far as I can tell, they have won playoff series over a higher seed only twice in Atlanta franchise history: They were a No. 5 seed when they upset Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy and Houston in 1978-79 2-0 in a best-of-three-series. The bigger upset came in 1995-96 when they were a No. 6 seed and upset Reggie Miller and No. 3 Indiana 3-2 in a best-of-five.

BRAVES: Other than the three aforementioned series, their biggest series wins were: The 1996 NLCS, when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit against St. Louis with three straight wins to win take the pennant.

THRASHERS: They’ve never won a playoff series. Or a game.

So there are six choices, including this Hawks’ series.

What would be your choice for No. 5 on the list of best Atlanta playoff series wins? And if you disagree with the top four, let’s hear ya.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

125 comments Add your comment

honest_abe

April 25th, 2011
9:46 am

Jeff Schultz

April 25th, 2011
9:51 am

Second! (Damn’t!)

honest_abe

April 25th, 2011
9:52 am

if they win this series which is far from being a given, it wouldn’t even be in the top ten of atl postseason moments. the magic aren’t very good. they’re nowhere near the team they were last year. i’d say slightly above beating the undermanned bucks last year and slightly below beating the celtics in game 6 of the first round two years ago..

JMar

April 25th, 2011
10:04 am

a) The Magic gutted their team with the midseason trade. b) The Hawks were built solely with the idea of beating the Magic. Let’s see how having four backup centers plays against any other team.

Big James

April 25th, 2011
10:05 am

They haven’t won yet!

CJ

April 25th, 2011
10:06 am

What about the GA Force going to the Arena Bowl? or the Dream in the WNBA Finals? Even the Beat made it to two WUSA Championships.

Chuck

April 25th, 2011
10:06 am

I picked the Falcons upset over the Pack, but I think the Hawks beating the Rockets is close. They actually pushed the old Washington Bullets, a defending champ with Hayes, Unseld, Kupchack, and Kevin Grevey, to the wire, a win that would have really put the Hawks in the upper echelon. But then John Drew, Fast Eddie, and the boys got caught up in the party scene. Those old Hawks teams could have been great

Big James

April 25th, 2011
10:09 am

What about the Atlanta Chiefs winning the NASL?

Reggie

April 25th, 2011
10:12 am

Yeah this is really over-board. The only reason we get so excited is because how they destroyed us last year but they only did that because our coach was to dumb to adjust his lineup. This is the first round and it ranks right there when we beat Miami 2 years ago to get to the second….so it doesn’t rank anywhere, the Hawks are a better team and believe it or not better coached than Orlando right now. If we get past the second round then that goes to number 2 behind the World Series win.

Hot sauce

April 25th, 2011
10:15 am

If hawks beat Derrick Rose in the 2nd round it will be number 5.

MitchC

April 25th, 2011
10:15 am

Jeff, to me if we win this series, it would rank as tied with two other series, both by the Braves.

The 1991 NLCS where we trailed three games to two, and won Games Six And Seven in Pittsburgh.

The 1996 NLCS where we trailed St Louis three games to one, and then creamed them in the next three games.

As great as 1995 was: I wouldn’t consider that a “major upset” series, even though Cleveland won ten more games than us in the regular season. 1995 was just a case of a team with great pitching, shutting down a team with great hitting. It wasnt really an upset, because, I think all Atlanta sports fans expected the Braves to win that series.

My calls, this ranks equal to 1991 and 1996 NLCS. This win by the Hawks, if they can win one more game, would be very exciting!

Sweetrevenge

April 25th, 2011
10:15 am

The Hawks deserve to be #5. Don’t forget, they are beating a team whose second-best player already assumed the Magic would win. Remember too that the Hawks are beating the Magic, the team that destroyed the Hawks last year. AND, the Hawks are “magic”ally showing a toughness they haven’t shown for a long while. If the Hawks win, put them on the list.

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Jeff Schultz

April 25th, 2011
10:17 am

Reggie — Hawks were favored over Miami and Milwaukee in first rounds last two years and had home court advantage in both. This would be much bigger than those two.

Tale of Woe

April 25th, 2011
10:19 am

I am not surprised that the Hawks have handled the Magic up to this point. We played them well during the regular season. The post-season is all about match-ups and the Hawks match up well against them… It would be more surprising if we lose to them (though, really, that wouldn’t be that surprising). I don’t think we should make this out to be more than it is. The Magic are not that good and the Hawks just match up well against them. Watch the Hawks offense is tough to do. It is abysmal. Where is the ball movement that Drew spoke so highly of? Did we pay Joe Johnson $140 Million just to make a couple of free throws? This team isn’t going anywhere and LD needs to get fired as soon as the Hawks are eliminated. We need a coach who can light a fire under Joe’s butt and get J Smith to understand that he belongs on the low block.

I was pulling my hair out last night watching this team play. It was atrocious (and we somehow won which is really beyond belief)

CJ

April 25th, 2011
10:20 am

The Magic were about as good in the second half of the season as the Hawks were. Anyone who has watched this series has seen pretty awful basketball from both teams for 3 out of 4 games. A win here wouldn’t even be as big as taking the Celtics to 7 games. Especially since we’ll more than likely get swept vs the Bulls.

PMC

April 25th, 2011
10:22 am

2002 was unreal. That was when Green Bay was still unbeatable at home in the playoffs…frozen tundra yadda yadda. This “dome” team from the south with the inaccurate warm weather QB went up and did to them what they did to us in January.

Beginning of the downfall of Brett Farve.

Mr. Dawg

April 25th, 2011
10:25 am

If the Hawks win this series against Orlando it would be a welcome turn around from last year. But that’s about it. The Hawks are a better team than Orlando and they underachieved during the regular season. Ask this question again if the Hawks win a Round 2 matchup. That would be worth noting.

PMC

April 25th, 2011
10:26 am

The 91 and 92 NLCS wins for the Braves may always be my favorites even though they actually won it all in 95. I still think the 91 WS ranks among the best ever.

Honestly, right now I just don’t want to talk about anything about the Hawks until after it happens. I want to let them do something before I get too excited. I’m really enjoying it though.

DawginLex

April 25th, 2011
10:29 am

1991 was the best ever. Growing up in Georgia the Braves were a laughingstock except for the brief Torre run. To go from crap in 1990 to the world series in 1991 is the best and it is not even close.

1995 was expected.

1996 vs STL was underachieving and then back to talent winning.
Then MARK WOHLERS-WHY, WHY, WHY????

Benjamin

April 25th, 2011
10:29 am

Here’s the thing, Jeff. On paper, HUGE upset, but we did beat them three of four this season, and honestly, the Magic haven’t played that well since the trades. I’m shocked, personally, but it’s more because I didn’t trust the Hawks to show up in the series after losing their last six, but it’s not like the Magic are the team they were last year, either.

This ranks more toward the middle for me, though I was a mere spectator of my momma’s belly during the first one, Atlanta’s win over Houston.

Benjamin

April 25th, 2011
10:31 am

And I agree with Dawg in Lex… nothing touches the Braves run in 1991, and I’d even put the Braves comeback on the Giants in 93 at the top of this list, too, though the Phillies [damn Phillies] made sure we didn’t get to enjoy that one too long.

Schultzie...

April 25th, 2011
10:38 am

…you afre getting the cart before the horse – they ain’t won nothin’ yet, and with the history of Atlanta pro teams they probably won’t finish this job either – but, on a lighter note, if they do win, I would MUCH rather play da’ Bulls then either Mimai or Boston in the next round…so the road to the final two is theirs for the taking…;

blazerdawg

April 25th, 2011
10:39 am

Falcons playoff win against the Eagles in 78 was big, er, epic! First major, major sport playoff win in Atlanta and set-up a great game in Dallas the following week.

1991 Braves was the best of all – for just about any team in any city. Tomahawks everywhere! Heck they were even doing the Chop on “Saturday Night Live” before they discovered it was racist.

Over

April 25th, 2011
10:49 am

no big deal–the magic have 1 good player and a bunch of overpaid stiffs.

jw

April 25th, 2011
10:56 am

For the Hawks, as players – this won’t be an upset – just payback from the stuff of last year. I really think they (Hawks) dogged it so they would play Orlando – they owe the citrus mice a good butt whooping – after that – who cares – seething over that mess for a year instills a little bit of payback in ANY competitive person!

Larry

April 25th, 2011
11:04 am

Jeff,

You’re kidding me, right?

The Hawks are playing one man on a team that couldn’t shoot a basketball in a well with a ladder.

As the experts are saying, either of these teams will be killed in the next round.

steve brown

April 25th, 2011
11:07 am

Terrible basketball -when two stinkin teams play why should we care.

DC

April 25th, 2011
11:15 am

Larry,

Who cares…live in the present…and all these experts picked orlando to dominate…experts…

windu

April 25th, 2011
11:20 am

Let me know when you’re finished counting the unhatched eggs.

James

April 25th, 2011
11:33 am

@ Big James….I like that one. Atlanta Chiefs will be on that list this year. Only great football team that this city will have due to the dumb NFL lockout.

Bill Lewis

April 25th, 2011
11:35 am

Larry,

Experts know nothing, thats why they play the games. All experts picked Orlando in a runaway.

Cmon Hawks lets keep the fun going!

JP

April 25th, 2011
11:36 am

I wish this series was an indication that the Hawks have really improved since last season, but we all know it’s about how much worse the Magic have gotten.

Josh, or Justin or Taylor or Conner or any other name yuppies gave their kids in the 90s

April 25th, 2011
11:42 am

Why not soccer?

bfred

April 25th, 2011
11:43 am

I don’t think this would belong on any lists. A five seed beating a four that it took three of four from in the regular season?

Game 7 of the ‘96 series against St. Louis was the most fun I ever had at a sporting event. The Braves were up something like 10-1 after two innings and the party was on so hard that Fulton County Stadium ran out of beer!

IceColdATlien

April 25th, 2011
11:48 am

JP, like with most things in life, it’s not just one or the other but it’s both. If we played the same idiotic defense we did last year, we’d be down 3-1. But… the new Magic players don’t match up well with ours either. So, the Hawks have a better strategy and the Magic have worse players… there’s your 3-1 lead.

Gwalk34

April 25th, 2011
11:48 am

TRADE JOSH SMITH! He will never play to his full potential as a Hawk! He has the talent to be a superman in the NBA but his half a$$ play is part of the reason teams are allowed to get themselves back into these games. Trade him now while he’s still worth something!

BravesFan79

April 25th, 2011
11:49 am

Im a Hawks fan.. but NO WAY does this even rank close to the 91 Braves! In fact beating Orlando wouldnt even be in my top 10 probably.

IceColdATlien

April 25th, 2011
11:49 am

bfred, I’m kinda witcha on that. This is nothing close to top5 in ATL playoffs history. Captain Hyperbole strikes again.

Archie

April 25th, 2011
11:52 am

The only that makes this apparent “upset” of the Magic so surprising is the lack of respect we have for the Hawks. We’ve called them quitters, questioned their heart and discipline, distrust the ownership and management. They’re a bipolar team that on a good day can beat anybody handily or get beat badly. We rightfully assumed going into the series that they weren’t consistent enough to win 4 of 7. In reality, they are just a better team than the Magic and were only separated by a couple games in the standings. This shouldn’t be surprising, and we shouldn’t call this an upset.

Also, it shouldn’t rank that high in any historical perspective because it’s just a first round series. If they close out the Magic and take a run at the Bulls, then we can bust out the hyperbole and call it whatever we want.

heartofdarkness

April 25th, 2011
11:52 am

For a moment when abject futility finally produces the extreme outlier of success, I can’t conceive of a more compelling example than a football team owned by a member of the Smith family going to the Superbowl. It should go down as one of the most improbable events of the 20th century. On the other hand, the most probable outcome of the Hawks-Magic series is that it will end, and the end will be deemed merciful.

P Rose

April 25th, 2011
11:54 am

Winning in the first round in the NBA means nothing. Wake me up when and IF the Hawks EVER make it to the finals.

IceColdATlien

April 25th, 2011
11:54 am

Gwalk: Sing it brother!! I love Smoove but, if we can parlay him into a real Center so Al can play the 4 and really start ballin’… then it’s a no-brainer trade. The trick is finding that Center. It wouldn’t be worth trading him for any other position than maybe PG, but only if we could somehow right a cosmic wrong by snagging CP3 next season. Other than that, Smith brings too much to the party in guarding the rim. Something that wouldn’t be missed if we replaced him with a Center next to Al.

IceColdATlien

April 25th, 2011
11:55 am

P Rose, I think the conference finals would definitely be worth paying attention to… especially if it’s against the Celts.

JASon

April 25th, 2011
11:58 am

In the nba these days, there’s so many things that a non-marquee team must overcome in the playoffs to win a series; Dwight Howard and the refs, in this case. This is a monumental task for a team, who must be incredibly resilient, even if you can tell this is probably not the magic’s year. But I suppose you would have to put it at #5 behind Cabrera’s hit

JOSH SMITH FOR 3!!!

April 25th, 2011
11:59 am

Those Magic, I mean D-Whine, fans should enjoy this last hurrah before Superjerk takes his talents to Long Beach…

Buckshot

April 25th, 2011
12:00 pm

How do you really get excited about this series? Both teams are mediocre. If the Hawks were beating Boston, Chicago…even Miami, then I could see the reason to be excited. The Rome Braves winning their division was more exciting than this!!!

[...] Earlier today: Poll time: Where would Hawks’ series win over Magic rank? [...]

Skeezix

April 25th, 2011
12:04 pm

Since I’m not into pro basketball–in my house, we’d rate the Braves sweep over the Giants over the Hawks beating the Magic. Just not that much into it. However, would be definitely an upset as probably most experts have the Magic advancing.

P Rose

April 25th, 2011
12:05 pm

The moment when Sid slid was the single most exciting moment in Atlanta pro sports history. 1991 was magical, and the 91 World Series was one for the ages. The whole Braves run in the 90s, and of course winning it all in 95, was great. But the walkoff hit and slide to end Game 7 of the 92 NLCS was the absolute pinnacle. If Sid had been thrown out, the Pirates would have gone to the World Series; of course he was safe (but only by an inch), and the Braves went. No other post season series in Major League Baseball history has been decided by a walkoff hit in which the outcome (safe or out) would determine the winner. That’s a little fun fact I learned last night watching “The 20 Greatest Games In MLB History!”