The performance of the Atlanta Hawks in the previous NBA season had fans and followers of the basketball community shocked and hopeful that an underdog could actually take home the title. With an impressive feat of going undefeated for 19 consecutive games, the Atlanta Hawks proved quite a number of sports analysts and enthusiasts wrong in their predictions. Going head to head against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a match that saw NBA superstar LeBron James struggle to take the lead, the Atlanta Hawks gave its followers the chance to see how one of the most underrated teams in the league could overcome obstacles and emerge victorious amid the odds stacked against them.
The East struggled to deal with the surprise turnaround of the Atlanta Hawks last season. As the NBA community focused on the wins and losses of the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as contemplated the injuries incurred by the Chicago Bulls, the entire basketball world was caught blindsided when the Atlanta Hawks bounced from a measly 8 - 6 performance and catapulted to the top by winning 35 of the remaining 40 games they had for the season.
Moreover, the majority of the starting players of the Atlanta Hawks in the previous NBA season, namely, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, made the All-Star team of the East Conference. As the Atlanta Hawks enter the NBA regular season, however, the team will be facing their foes without small forward DeMarre Carroll who was let go during the offseason and is now part of the Toronto Raptors roster.
With minimal changes, it appears that the Atlanta Hawks are eyeing to finally see the defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in their hands, along with the potential loss of the ailing Chicago Bulls as well. LeBron James saw to it last season that the surging Atlanta Hawks NBA stars were put to place by putting a halt to the team's dreamlike run. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls are also expected to move forward this season with a stronger and more promising team - one that fans and followers of the group hope to see succeed with Jimmy Butler on the lead and a healthy Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson stringing along.
"The best-case scenario is that the Hawks recapture their midseason magi," noted James Herbert of CBS Sports, referring to the potential of the Atlanta Hawks to beat the East Conference contenders this NBA season. The sports analyst added, "There's no reason Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver (after he recovers from his two surgeries), Paul Millsap and Al Horford can't get even sharper when it comes to playing off each other. While what happened most recently makes it easy to forget, there was something super special happening here."
Herbert further pointed out, "No one's going to predict Atlanta will make it out of the East, but with Splitter and a little luck - Holiday being a gem, the Cavaliers getting hurt or stagnant - it's possible. For two straight years, LeBron James has been beaten by great defensive teams that share, push and shoot the hell out of the ball. Sounds like the ideal version of Atlanta."