The greatest favor you can do the Atlanta Hawks is to discount them. They hate that, which is to say they love it.
“[Pundits] help us out a lot by counting us out,” Josh Smith said Monday. “We like to prove people wrong. [Being summarily dismissed] is disrespectful.”
The Hawks are playing the Boston Celtics in a 4-versus-5 series, which by definition should be seen as a coin flip. This one was projected to be a Boston walkover — even though the Hawks held the homecourt edge in the sport where playing at home matters most.
It was as if these were still the callow Hawks of 2008 — the No. 8 seed lugging a losing record — and their opponent was an in-its-prime Boston team that had won 66 games. Neither of those things is true. These Hawks lost Al Horford, heretofore considered indispensable, in the season’s 11th game and still won more than the Celtics.
To the chattering class, that mattered