Not to say I told you so, but …
The Hawks just beat the Celtics on the parquet of the new Garden. Yes, it was a regular-season game, but it was as significant as a regular-season game can be in November. The Hawks proved to the NBA — and, more important, to themselves — that they can leave Philips Arena and outslug one of the league’s heavyweights. Armed with this knowledge, who knows where they might wind up?
The world at large has no idea how good these Hawks can be. Heck, until Friday night I’m not sure the Hawks had a clear notion. But they should have an inkling now. They should know they have as many good players — not a superstar, no, but good players across the board — as any team anywhere. They’re 7-2 with victories in Portland and Boston. They’re big-time.
And they’re still relatively young. This is no small consideration. The Celtics and Shaquille O’Neal (Cavs) and Vince Carter (Magic) aren’t going to be any younger come the spring. If any team is built to absorb the undulations of a six-month regular season and still be primed for the postseason, this is it.
Understand: I’m not suggesting the Hawks will win the NBA title in 2010. But I am saying they just took a giant step forward. They won a game that made us sit up and say, “How about that?” They beat Boston in Boston. If you can do that, you can beat anybody anywhere.