Quick Thought: So close and yet so far.
A Very Special Thought:
In leiu of a full recap tonight, I offer this very special thought about this close, but no cigar blown game tonight against the Chicago Bulls.
There was serious doubt coming into this season whether the Hawks would even be as good as last year, a year in which they slid due to off years from role players, regression to the mean for a certain 6th Man of the Year, injuries to a recently signed max contract player and a new head coach.
In back to back nights, the Hawks went into what is widely considered to be the best two teams in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. What they did in six of eight quarters of those two games was to impose their own will and athleticism on these two teams and show that the Atlanta Hawks belong in any discussion regarding not just the playoffs, but potentially a home court advantage seed.
That's why I'm choosing to be optimistic and pragmatic about the way the Hawks lost this particular game, blowing a 14 point lead heading into the fourth quarter and generally looking like they lost their oxygen tank at the bottom of the ocean.
The Hawks can play with anyone with this roster. Their core being together has definitely helped them in this compressed season and the addition of Tracy McGrady has me believing that he could make a run at 6th Man of the Year himself.
The rotations are still being tested, as Marvin Williams got crunch time against the Bulls where Tracy McGrady got it against the Heat last night. Larry Drew and the coaches are learning, hopefully, what's working when and against what.
Jeff Teague is getting vaulable experience he should have had long before this season, and the busted winning time free throws can only help the young man as he plays in more and more high pressure, big time games.
This is a good team who is proving to be capable of beating anyone in the East, and though a blown lead and loss might have me shaking my head and feeling negative about their poor execution after three brilliant defensive quarters, I am feeling rather positive --- about this team, about this season, and about the Hawks chances of exceeding most pundits relatively poor outlook overall.