Coming on the heels of this article just 10 days ago, John Hollinger, whose nickname should be "Insider Required", the resident ESPN ATLien reminds his readers that, hey, all you guys who are leaving the Hawks out of the home court discussion in the East, you need to recognize:
While the Celtics and Heat skirmish at the top, the Magic, Bulls and Hawks are fighting it out to grab the last two home-court positions in the East. The consensus opinion is that the Magic and Bulls have better teams, but Atlanta isn't going away quietly. After Tuesday's upset in Miami, the Hawks are 28-15 and a half-game ahead of Orlando in the standings and a half-game behind Chicago for third.
Additionally, Atlanta has more home games left than the other two teams, albeit against more difficult opposition. The Hawks also hold a 2-1 season-series lead on Orlando, with a home game left on March 30 to clinch the tiebreaker. Finally, the Hawks get a break on the schedule with the Bulls: All three meetings between the teams are in March, and two of them are in Atlanta. If Atlanta just holds serve at home, it will own the tiebreaker and pick up a game on Chicago.
It was premature to write this team off as a bubble playoff team just based on disinterest of more of the same. We (Kris and I) thought that while the team may have plateaued with its current core and subsequent Joe Johnson Double Down summer, that plateau is a 50-something win, battling for home court level club for at least one more season. Meaning, as Hollinger notes, that the Hawks could be a nasty first round team, even if not getting home court.
In fact, the Hawks are the only team in Hollinger's Playoff Odds formula that has a greater than 1 percent chance of winning the title (3.7 percent as of today) without having home court advantage.
You believing yet?