Some good news as we are deprived of Hawks basketball for another night, ESPN's John Hollinger calls attention to the good guys in his Daily PER diem submission today.
The Hawks could not be further off the radar right now, but it might be time for that perception to change. For instance, Orlando is a big story after having won nine straight games. But did you know that Orlando has gained only two games on the Hawks during its current streak?
Hollinger's take is noteworthy because he, like the rest of the Bird Watchers who comment daily on the team, watches a lot of Hawks action being that the ATL is his home base. As such, John is painfully aware of the inherent flaws of the team, and yet, he still finds reason for interest and praise.
Especially noticeable is that there's far better ball movement than in the "iso-Joe" offense under Mike Woodson. But perhaps more important is that the Hawks' formerly shambolic transition D has significantly improved now that they're not sending the entire team to the offensive glass. Atlanta has dropped to 24th in offensive rebound rate, from fifth a season go, which is the main reason the offense hasn't been as efficient ... but by the same token, the Hawks are also a very solid 11th in defensive efficiency.
The Hawks have already had an interesting journey on the path of popular opinion. It was easy to brand the Hawks as stale and on the decline following the status-quo offseason and overpayment (opinion, of course) of Joe Johnson as the season opened. The needle then pointed to "overrated" with the Hawks hot start and then, when the Hawks inevitably fell from their undefeated perch, they were quickly dismissed as average and forgotten.
The current meme is that the Hawks are only good against the bad teams, and can't beat the good ones. Their won/loss record certainly holds this argument up, but as Hollinger notes, this too may be changing.
...the Hawks are on the upswing -- winners of eight of 10, including a 23-point beatdown of the Jazz in Utah last week -- and up to fifth in the Power Rankings. No, not fifth in the East -- fifth in the entire league. Atlanta projects to win 52 games according to today'sPlayoff Odds and is a serious threat to grab a top-four seed in the East.
Excited yet? If so, pin it on your GPS as another checkpoint on what is turning out to be an interesting season for the Birds.
Despite the fait accompli that usually accompanies my feelings about the team's ultimate destination (that it's a second round and down club), the statistical probabilities located in Hollingers Playoff Odds around a championship has allowed me to dream. Almost (4) out of (100) odds the Hawks can win it all?