The Hawks may have lost their series to the Celtics in dramatic fashion in Game 6, failing to force a winner-take-all Game 7, but there was nothing to hang their heads about.
Nobody gave Atlanta a chance to beat Boston, and nobody should have. The Celtics are arguably the most complete team in the NBA, littered with playoff experience. On the other hand, the Hawks were perhaps the most mediocre team in NBA history, going 41-41 amid internal turmoil the entire season. Despite that, the Hawks gave Boston all they could handle, and that came after a huge win on the road in the play-in tournament against the Heat.
So while they may be eliminated, the Hawks showed loads of progress under Quin Snyder, and there’s finally some confidence again in the building. There’s reason to believe that, with a few tweaks, Atlanta’s roster may not be that far away from returning to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Celtics star shooting guard Jaylen Brown spoke to that following their series win over the Hawks.
Jaylen actually just said the Hawks would have been a top-5 team. I assumed he meant in the East. It’s possible he didn’t. It’s possible I made an ass out of u and me.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) April 30, 2023
Who knows if Brown meant the Hawks would be a top-five team in the Eastern Conference or the entire NBA. Regardless, this was a different team under Snyder than it was under Nate McMillan, and now Snyder has the opportunity to bring in his own coaches, work with his players over an entire offseason, and make adjustments to the roster as he sees fit.
There’s reason to believe the Hawks will be better next season, and they already proved they can compete with the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Heat decimated the top-seeded Bucks in Round 1. They currently hold a 1-0 lead over the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and that’s without Tyler Herro, who played against the Hawks in the play-in.
Miami is now the favorite to make the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row, and their likely opponent will be the Boston Celtics. Going 3-4 against those teams in the postseason, including two wins on the road, is nothing to gloss over. Trae Young is a superstar, and he finally has the right coach leading the way. For the first time in two years, it finally feels like this franchise is no longer heading in reverse.
Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire
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