With Rose out, the Hawks have a path to the Eastern finals

Derrick Rose goes down, and the NBA playoffs go up for grabs. (AP photo)

With Derrick Rose gone, the Eastern Conference has been thrown wide open (AP photo)

The Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968. While based here, they’ve never won two playoff series in a single season. They may never have a better chance than they do now.

They hold the homecourt edge over Boston in Round 1. (Never mind that the Celtics are favored to win.) Should the Hawks beat the C’s, their Round 2 opponent will be Philadelphia, which has the worst record of any postseason qualifier, or Chicago, which just lost its best player for the duration.

Yes, the Bulls have had ample opportunity to get used to being without Derrick Rose this season, but always before they believed he’d be back for the playoffs. In Game 1 against Philly, with Chicago leading by 12 points with 1:20 remaining, Rose tore his ACL. With him, the Bulls might have won the NBA championship. Without him, they might lose to the 76ers. (Though probably not.)

If you’re the Hawks, you can’t put the cart before its equine puller. Beating Boston won’t be easy. But whoever wins this series should reach the Eastern Conference finals, somewhere the Atlanta Hawks have never been. (They twice made the Western finals, but back then you only needed one series victory to get there.)

These playoffs weren’t three hours old before the molecules got rearranged, and for once in their existence we can say the Hawks have caught a break. Heck, they might even get Al Horford back for the conference semis. That’s provided they reach the conference semis.

And that’s a major caveat. We learned in 1988 that getting close wasn’t the same as getting there. The Hawks took a 3-2 lead over Boston in Round 2 and faced a close-out game at the old Omni. They lost by two on a Friday night that ended with Cliff Levingston’s no-chance running lefty hook, and they lost the epic Game 7 in the old Garden. There is, however, one difference.

Those Celtics were old. These Celtics are older.

By Mark Bradley

95 comments Add your comment

jjm

April 28th, 2012
7:41 pm

Not so fast my friend!

Mark Bradley

April 28th, 2012
7:41 pm

Believe me. I’ve learned never to count the Hawks in. (I’ve also learned never to count them out.)

J.J.M.

April 28th, 2012
7:51 pm

I think it comes down to how healthy zaza/horford will be…if they can squeak by the celtics and have zaza healthy then yes the hawks will/should go to the eastern finals

Marcus

April 28th, 2012
7:55 pm

shame what happened to D-Rose, even from a die-hard Hawks fan. We gotta handle the C’s, who will be riding their experience like nobody’s business. We need to prove we can beat the full-strength Celtics, even if Ray Allen is hobbled.
The way this years’ NBA season and playoffs have gone with all the injuries and compressed schedule, its like a winner-take-all, last survivor cage match.

Whopper Dawg

April 28th, 2012
7:56 pm

I still can’t believe Levingston took that last shot. My jaw was on the floor.

zgoldatl

April 28th, 2012
8:00 pm

I think the Hawks will make a run this year. The veteran bench leadership really makes a big difference, and in my opinion is what was missing the last couple years. See y’all at the Highlight Factory tomorrow.

Atl Teams = CHOKE

April 28th, 2012
8:16 pm

Hawks have the easiest path to the ECF. But knowing them, they will lose in the first round, and the Fans will be left talking about what could have been.

Atl teams = CHOKE

April 28th, 2012
8:20 pm

The Playoffs are here. Atl teams are probably preparing for their annual choke.

OldTimer

April 28th, 2012
8:33 pm

Just bought two tickets.
Let’s kick some ass.

Yellow Fuzz

April 28th, 2012
8:41 pm

The bulls are a good team without rose, but my mind tells me the hawks will find a way to screw this up. I am a die hard hawks fan but this is what atlanta fans are used to, which is our teams getting to the playoffs and getting knocked our in the first round(braves,falcons)even though the hawks have been to the second round for two years.

Mash

April 28th, 2012
8:43 pm

The Hawks finally catching a break was my first thought as well after learning of Rose’s season ending injury. However, we still have to take care of business with the Celtics.

Strange things happen in strike shortened seasons. Hopefully the Hawks winning the Finals can be that strange thing this year.

LakeDawg

April 28th, 2012
8:47 pm

I gave the Hawks a 50/50 chance to beat Boston and advance into the second round (which I predicted they would lose), but with this opportunity opening up I must amend my prediction. Like you said Mark, they’ve never had this kind of opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs. My new prediction is……….they will lose to the Celtics 4-2.

Atl teams = CHOKE

April 28th, 2012
9:04 pm

When given the best opportunity, Atl teams choke. I hate to say it, but its true.

215_Basketball

April 28th, 2012
9:05 pm

Not a classy article at all. The NBA needs more players like Derrick Rose who really love the game and are a joy to watch. He now faces a tough rehab and life without the game for a while. Imagine what he and his family are going through. To speculate on what the Hawks might do with Rose out is classless. Let the Hawks try getting past the Celtics first before you even talk about anything else.

LakeDawg

April 28th, 2012
9:15 pm

“He now faces a tough rehab and life without the game for a while. Imagine what he and his family are going through.”
————————————————————————————————————————————

While I don’t wish injury on anyone, its a part of the game. I’m sure Rose and his family wish the injury hadn’t occurred, but me thinks you’re being a bit melodramatic. Its not as if he’s been the victim of a crime or lost his livelyhood. Talking about what is possible due to his injury is fair game and not classless.

zgoldatl

April 28th, 2012
9:22 pm

It may be jumping the gun, because we have a very challenging series with Boston ahead of us. However, it’s not classless, it’s true.

Outside Observer

April 28th, 2012
9:32 pm

Rose only played in 39 games this season. The Bulls still had the best record in the conference. They might be missing their best player, but the Bulls are still a favorite to win the conference.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 28th, 2012
9:34 pm

It’s too bad about Rose, one of the most likable superstars in the league, but I’m not gonna lie — my first thought was that the Hawks’ road just got much easier. The Celtics are tough, but not unbeatable. The Bulls without Rose are tough, but not unbeatable. This is the Hawks’ time. You could make a case right now that the Hawks are the 2nd best team in the conference, what with the Rose injury and the Pacers currently gagging at home in Game 1 against the Dwight-less Magic. Time to go out there and prove it.

Atl teams = CHOKE

April 28th, 2012
9:39 pm

Wow Indiana just pulled an Atlanta. Epic Choke Job.

rob

April 28th, 2012
9:46 pm

Hawks need to take game 1 to send a message.

HAwks fan rics

April 28th, 2012
9:51 pm

HAwks need to restructure MArvins’s deal. He is a great rotation player. Amnestying him shouldn’t be an option.

Atl teams = CHOKE

April 28th, 2012
9:54 pm

Hawks need to restructure Joe Johnson’s deal. He’s holding this team back.

coloradobulldog

April 28th, 2012
10:23 pm

I know the Hawks aren’t favored to beat C’s. And w/o ZaZa/Al it will be tough. But no one gave us much hope last year of beating Orlando. Need Teague to step up vs Rondo like he did vs Rose last playoffs.

hbcuclassics

April 28th, 2012
10:24 pm

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 Draft Update:

Christian Thompson, S, SC State – Baltimore
Ryan Davis, DE/OLB, Bethune – Jacksonville
Mario Louis, WR, Grambling – Houston
Marquette King, P, FVSU – Oakland
James Dekle, G, Prairie View – Arizona
Kevin Elliott, WR, FAMU – Jacksonville
Demario Pippen, RB,Tuskegee – Denver
LaMont Bryant, TE, Morgan St – Baltimore
Bryan Tymes, TE, FAMU – San Francisco
Jared Green, WR, Southern – Carolina
Donovan Robinson, DE, Jackson St – New York Jets
Adrian Hamilton, DE, Prairie View – Dallas
Antonio Dennard, CB, Langston – Jaguars
Paul Cox, WR, Mississippi Valley St – Chargers
Nicolas Cooper, RB, Winston Salem St – Packers

stay tuned…www.hbuclassics.com

coloradobulldog

April 28th, 2012
10:25 pm

I can’t see how anyone can say Hawks choked last year when they were not favored vs Orlando or Chicago. Must but a Saint fan who has nothing else to live for now.

Chris

April 28th, 2012
10:28 pm

Keep Dreaming Mark….Keep Dreaming. We have no Big Man for the entire series against the Celtics and the Celtics have probably the best coach in the NBA on their sideline. He was so confident that his OLD team will beat the Hawks in the playoffs that he played his 2nd string and gave the Homecourt Advantage to the Hawks when he could have wrapped it up. WHY??? Because he knows it won’t matter where the games are played, the men in Green will prevail.

moorman

April 28th, 2012
10:35 pm

Its AMAZING the hawks have never made the eastern conference finals……………….just amazing. too bad nba basketball referees FIX certain games……………..lol

Walt Frazier

April 28th, 2012
10:39 pm

Mark Bradley, didn’t I tell you to stay off the drugs?

tulsabravo

April 28th, 2012
10:40 pm

Are you out of your ever-loving mind Mr. Bradley?

A rose by any other name

April 28th, 2012
10:56 pm

Don’t count your chickens just yet. The Bulls have played well all season without Rose. To a man, each player on the Bulls knew at some point in the playoffs, the softest player in the league would go down with a either a broken nail or the start of his cycle, so they are more than prepared to make a run without him.

KBB

April 28th, 2012
11:01 pm

LOL, yea right. Get past the Celtics first

go-BRAVOS

April 28th, 2012
11:06 pm

MB you said you’ve never counted the Hawks out either, well you must be bad at predicting because it is a 100% guarantee that these Hawks will either lose in the 1st RD or lose to the 76ers/Bulls winner.These guys have proven that they cannot win big games, a proven track record. They are the ATLANTA Hawks and as we all know no sports team from the Georgia can win the big one.
I’m starting to believe that the Braves never won in 95′ it was all a mirage. Never happened.
152 seasons= 1 title

JSS

April 28th, 2012
11:34 pm

Told Schultz when he was pitching for the Hawks to lose games to avoid the Celtics that the path of least resistance involved the Bulls… I hate Rose is hurt not just for the talent he possesses for the NBA game but because of the hit our Olympic team is taking with Billups, Howard, and now Rose gone and what that means for London in a little over 3 months. Take care of business Hawks, Rose has been a Hawks killer… Keep your mind on the Celtics, then we’ll see!

These Hawks to soar?

April 28th, 2012
11:50 pm

hope the Hawks show the C’s they’ve grown a ton since that 1 vs 8 / 7 game series back in 08 (and by a “ton” I’d like to see a sweep but i don’t think that’ll happen)

Dr. Warren

April 28th, 2012
11:51 pm

The Hawks will make the Eastern Conference Finals. Never before have they or their coaches felt deep down they had a legitimate chance to get there. Now they do. It will make a big difference.

I don't want to look ahead yet cause. . .

April 29th, 2012
12:49 am

we ’bout to enjoy kicking some Celtic a$$. Then we’ll look ahead.

DawgNole

April 29th, 2012
12:55 am

go-BRAVOS

April 28th, 2012
11:06 pm

MB you said you’ve never counted the Hawks out either, well you must be bad at predicting because it is a 100% guarantee that these Hawks will either lose in the 1st RD or lose to the 76ers/Bulls winner.These guys have proven that they cannot win big games, a proven track record. They are the ATLANTA Hawks and as we all know no sports team from the Georgia can win the big one.
I’m starting to believe that the Braves never won in 95′ it was all a mirage. Never happened.
152 seasons= 1 title
_______________________

Make that 154 seasons = 1 title.

DawgNole

April 29th, 2012
12:57 am

Dr. Warren
April 28th, 2012
11:51 pm

The Hawks will make the Eastern Conference Finals. Never before have they or their coaches felt deep down they had a legitimate chance to get there. Now they do. It will make a big difference.
_______________________

You usually offer up sensible comments. Not so sure about this one.

pj

April 29th, 2012
1:09 am

ESPN talking heads are talking about how this affects the playoffs too – but are dismissing the Hawks by all operating under the assumption that Celtics advance. They didn’t even say the words Atlanta or Hawks just now. What a bunch of garbage.

dirty south dawg

April 29th, 2012
2:17 am

imagine- how we never win thr big dance & then a miracle year (NOW) sees the hawks win the nba finals—braves let chipper retire with a world series—- & the falcons let gonzo retire with a super bowl….

it could happen…if the starz align just rite- & U BELIEVE…the starz are doing their part…will u do urs?
BELIEVE

Tdawg

April 29th, 2012
5:26 am

I have never in my life seen such out and out BS coming from those idiots on ESPN. You are right pj the jerks never once uttered the word, Atlanta or Hawks. Not once. They have mentioned every single team in the playoffs by name, but the Hawks. He!! I just don’t see why the Hawks even bother to play. Shoot the way the ESPN jerks are telling or not telling it, they don’t even exist. The Hawks have home court advantage and I don’t care what anyone say’s. Home court is a huge advantage in basketball, especially when the teams are evenly matched. If you hear the way the sports reporters tell it, or don’t tell it. The Hawks don’t even rate a single utterance on the tube. It’s not like the Celtics were smashing the Hawks. Heck the series was 2 to 1 in favor of the Celtics and the Hawks could have easily won all three game’s. I hope that the Hawks sweeps Boston if for no other reason than to show the ESPN reporter’s what a bunch of idiot’s they are. I’m hoping that the ESPN brass has been watching those bunch of incompetent jerks and straightens there arse out. I’ve never seen such disrespect in my life for any team. I mean the sorriest team in the playoffs should at least feel like they exist. And I thought that they showed a lot of hate for the dawgs a few years back. Well they have out did themselves now and I didn’t think that was possible.

ATLtodolavida

April 29th, 2012
7:12 am

Why did Levingston get the shot? Was Nique denied the ball?

will

April 29th, 2012
7:46 am

It’s not just ESPN, that hates and disrespects the hawks, TNT, NBA TV. C. Barkley said yday that once the bulls beat the 76ers, they’re next opponents are celtics and the heat. Shaq and K. Smith don’t believe the hawks have a snow chance in hell of beating the celtics in this series.

R. Miller, said about a yr ago when discussing the hawks fan situation, that the hawks play in a small market, which is totally false and you would think that these talking heads would do more research before they start running their mouth. ATL Metro 5.5 million people, Pacers market where miller played 1.7 million people that would be considered a small market.

I think these talking heads are on the verge of waking up a sleeping giant the ATL.

Larry

April 29th, 2012
7:52 am

Go with the team with more heart, more courage, more team synergy, and a superior coach by a mile. Boston in 5.

Hawks Rule!

April 29th, 2012
8:17 am

Mark this down—with rose out, the hawks will upset chicago and miami and win the East! The Hawks are on fire!!! Hawks v. Spurs for the NBA title!!!

kevkat

April 29th, 2012
8:26 am

The only people who can do anything about the comments(or lack of ) made by those on ESPN is the Hawks themselves. Here’s hoping they saw this and will be motivated to prove them all wrong.

atlchris77

April 29th, 2012
8:53 am

I mooved from NY in 93. I only know the last twenty yrs of Hawks basketball. This team has IT. Iwant a 15+ pt. Win today. This team wants to destroy Boston. excorsize a few demons. I like hawks in 5. We can split the 2 in Boston. Sweep the 4 at home.

Respect is earned

April 29th, 2012
8:58 am

Im not sure why people offended that analyst are dismissing the Hawks. What have the Hawks ever done to garner legitimate respect? Respect is earned. Same goes for the Falcons.

atlchris77

April 29th, 2012
9:09 am

I agree respect is earned. This squad of Hawks has gone deeper every yr in the last five playoffs. They have earned discusion. They won six of their final nine to earn home court. They whooped Dallas to leave no doubt early in the game.

atlchris77

April 29th, 2012
9:13 am

A win tonight will force a change in discussion. GO HAWKS!!!!