The number one-seed Atlanta Hawks (60-22) will take on the eight-seed Brooklyn Nets (38-44) in the first round of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. Atlanta swept the regular season series against the Nets this year, 4-0. The Nets beat out the Pacers, securing the final playoff spot, by beating the Orlando Magic 101-88 in their last regular season game. While it is exciting for Brooklyn to make the playoffs, I have a feeling it will be short-lived. The Hawks are a different breed this year. Below is a preview of the series.
Schedule (times in eastern time)
Game 1 — Sun. April 19, Brooklyn at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 — Wed. April 22, Brooklyn at Atlanta, 7:00 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 — Sat. April 25, Atlanta at Brooklyn, 3:00 p.m., TNT
Game 4 — Mon. April 27, Atlanta at Brooklyn, TBD
Game 5 * — Wed. April 29, Brooklyn at Atlanta, TBD
Game 6 * — Fri. May 1, Atlanta at Brooklyn, TBD
Game 7 * — Sun. May 3, Brooklyn at Atlanta, TBD
* If necessary
Paul Millsap will be the X-Factor for the Hawks in this series due to his health. Fans have only seen him play one game out of the last six. Millsap injured his shoulder against the Nets on April 4, but returned in the season finale against the Chicago Bulls. Millsap looked very rusty in his return, playing 27 minutes while scoring five points with six rebounds and four assists. Unfortunately for Atlanta fans, Milsap’s injury could linger throughout the playoffs because he did say his shoulder is still sore. The power forward was a key to Atlanta’s success throughout the regular season, so for the team’s sake, Millsap needs to be able to play to the best of his ability.
- Thabo Sefolosha (broken tibia) OUT
- Mike Scott (back) Questionable for Game 1
- Alan Anderson (ankle) Questionable
This is the time the Atlanta Hawks need to prove not to everyone else, but to themselves, they are for real. Atlanta players should not care whatsoever if the media disrespects them or whether they believe in the team. This team won 60 games this year. 60 games! No team that wins 60 games in an 82 game schedule is a fluke. Brooklyn is not a bad team, but they are not a very good team. Mike Budenholzer, a candidate for coach of the year, will want to make quick work of the Nets. Coach Budenholzer has been on NBA championship teams throughout his time in the NBA, so he knows how to coach a great team. With that being said, my prediction is the Atlanta Hawks win in 5 games. This series will send a message to the league that the Hawks deserved the 1-seed in the eastern conference. It will also send a message to the Eastern Conference playoff teams that this is Atlanta’s time to shine. This is a new team with a new mindset, and Brooklyn will find that out quickly.