The Hawks have been here before. Well, sort of.
Despite their 60-win regular season and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks have fallen from national favor after splitting the first four games of the playoff series against the No. 8 Nets. Few are talking about the Hawks in the conversation of top teams in the East. Suddenly, the question is ‘What is wrong with the Hawks?’
It was just a season ago when as the No. 8 seed the Hawks pushed the No. 1 seed Pacers to seven games before falling in the first round. Then, the question outside Atlanta was ‘What’s wrong with the Pacers?’
It’s true that the Hawks did present a problem for the Pacers with their style of play. The Pacers were also in disarray as Roy Hibbert completely lost his game and Lance Stephenson was fighting with teammates.
I asked several Hawks about the reverse portrayal before Game 5.
“It’s a very similar story as last year,” Kyle Korver said. “We felt like we were a much better team last year than our record showed. We were confident in the playoffs. If you ask (the Nets), they feel the same way. They have some really talented players. They have an incredibly high payroll for a reason. They have a lot of really good players over there. A couple of times we played them earlier in the season, they were missing guys, guys were out of rhythm. They have all their pieces now.
“The trade for Thaddeus (Young) really gave them a boost at the end of the season. I don’t think he’s been given enough credit. They are a good team. They were playing well the last month or two of the season. Coming into this, we didn’t look them as an eighth seed and we were going to roll over them. I think a lot of people just assumed that because it’s 1-8. They are a good team and we have to play well tonight.”
DeMarre Carroll said the hype was a media-created event.
“It’s the media,” Carroll said. “That’s what they do. They make stories. Give Brooklyn credit. There are a lot of good guys over there, former All-Stars. They’ve got a lot of good talent. At the same token, not taking anything away from them, I don’t think we’ve played some of our best basketball yet.”