Mailbag: Playoffs, Pacers and excitement at Philips Arena

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

This week's mailbag focuses on the playoffs and what chances the Hawks have to actually defeat the Indiana Pacers.

We have another great mailbag on tap but first a programming note. We will do one more of these after the playoffs are over for the Hawks and then sporadically throughout the offseason. Wanted to take a moment and thank everyone that has submitted questions because these have been a lot of fun. Now onto the questions:

Forum user zmuscat asks:

Barring a massive surprise and us bagging a superstar this summer what positions do you think the Hawks should focus on improving most through free agency?

Playoff series is tied 1-1 and I have a free agency question? I kid I kid. Great question and one that I am sure we will spend a lot of time talking about this offseason. A lot of people would say center but I personally I would say adding some size to the shooting guard or small forward position. Big name guys like Lance Stephenson, Luol Deng and Danny Granger will be available but there will be others as well. As DeMarre Carroll has shown, the Hawks don't mind thinking outside the box and could bring in someone that is somewhat under the radar.

Another thing to touch on here is that depth can be added not only in free agency but also via the draft or a trade. The Hawks have plenty of movable contracts and could be a player in many discussions this offseason.

Skywardcrowbar wants to know?

Since the vast majority of the national coverage of Game 1 in this series was geared toward talking about how the Pacers have been collapsing, I was wondering, what percentage of credit would you give the Hawks for the win versus the Pacers playing awful?

I give the Hawks a lot of credit. As the eighth seed with a losing record it would have been easy for them to have came out and rolled over for four games and got the offseason started but that isn't what this team is about and its certainly not what Mike Budenholzer and his staff are about. As far as a percentage I'm not sure. Indiana clearly has struggled of late but they are still a good team and in a lot of cases its about Atlanta executing and making shots.

As a sidebar to your question, the media is naturally going to focus on the high seed especially when they lose to a No. 8 seed. We talked about it in the lead up to the series but I think that is exactly what the Hawks want. After winning Game 2 expect to hear how Indiana is back and how they found themselves but if Atlanta wins Game 3 then the cycle will start over again. The pressure is on Indiana and I believe the Hawks are fine with that.

Jeff_H asks:

The Boston series several years ago excited the city of Atlanta. In your opinion, what will the Hawks have to do in the playoffs and how far will the Hawks have to go in the postseason to generate similar excitement that the franchise can build on heading into next season?

Despite losing that Boston series those games in Atlanta are a fond memory for a lot of us. If the Hawks hold serve at home I expect to see some excitement in Philips Arena. Coming off of the Game 2 performance the Game 3 crowd may be a little subdued but an Atlanta win would get things moving.

One thing that also made that 2008 series memorable was that it was against the Celtics who the Hawks also had a memorable series against 20 years prior. When you combine that it was the first year of Boston's Big-3 along with a young Hawks team that was just finding itself and you have a memorable series.

If the Hawks prove at home that they can compete in this series and truly have a chance to win it then I think the excitement will be there.

Ballislife24 asks:

Can the Hawks beat the Pacers in this series?

Absolutely they can! Will they? I don't know. From the outset we thought this could be a long series and that the Hawks if healthy wouldn't be an easy out for the Pacers. Despite their problems Indiana is a great team and one that could still end up in the Eastern Conference Finals or even The Finals. That doesn't need to be overlooked.

By taking Game 1 the Hawks still have a golden opportunity as they return home. Indiana historically has not played well in Atlanta and the Hawks have been much better at home than on the road. I picked Indiana to win the series in six but I did say that the longer this series goes the more pressure will be on Indiana. They apparently aren't much of a tight nit group right now so who knows what would happen if they faced that kind of pressure.

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