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Hawks vs. Celtics: Another Season Ends Too Early

<strong>Much too soon.</strong>
Much too soon.

Why, why, why couldn't things be different just once for this franchise?

What else can you say -- everything that the Hawks were in 2011-2012 was out there for you to see in this series, in this Game 6. you had things to get excited about, hit a wall, scream at the set, exhale with relief and then, finally, turn it off.

I'm angry that this team hasn't improved, learned or done anything different than they've done for four seasons now in the playoffs. The ball still stops, the lapses happen, transition defense gets sloppy, they let the other team dictate to them, etc.

The reason why I want things to be different so bad for this club is that, individually, I love these guys.

Al Horford is my man, a fellow Gator, a truly hard worker for even getting himself onto the floor for these last three games. He gave the team life and a chance, even in Boston.

Nobody has bailed more games out for this version of the Hawks than Joe Johnson. Good and bad, when all else failed, Joe has never, ever, backed away from taking the big shot.

Jeff Teague took another step forward and I love his athleticism and the way he is learning how to control pace, explore with the ball and knock down the three.

It must have killed Zaza Pachulia to miss this series -- I have to think things might have been different with you-know-who if Zaza had been out there to get into his head, sometimes literally.

And Josh -- man, he feels like he's leading by not being scared to take that shot. He'll stubborn persistence that he'll make it is equal to his desire to win the game. Being out there, risking much further injury, to give everything he has left for the team goes criminally underspoken, especially under the din of hearing about his jump shots.

I love these guys -- I want it to be better for them. It's little different than I felt for Hubie Brown's teams with Fast Eddie, John Drew, Danny Roundfield and Tree. Or even Lenny's teams -- those boring, match you up, Lenny teams, led by my main man Mookie Blaylock, Smitty, Plastic Man, Christian Laettner and Mutombo.

And I can't live through a Game 6 with the Celtics without thinking about the love I had for those Dominique teams. Sorry, Mike Fratello, you may have been the best coach the Atlanta Hawks have had while on the bench, but those will always be 'Nique's teams. He and Doc were my guys -- loved those two -- wanted it soooo bad for them.

All of them hit the same wall. None of them made it to the Conference finals. They were great teams, all of them, but some other teams always had more. A better matchup, good health at the right times, the hot player, whatever, those Hawks, those guys, always came up short.

So it doesn't surprise that these Hawks ran into an excellent defensive team with Hall of Famers galore on the roster making one more run for greatness and the good guys didn't do enough to win.

It doesn't surprise, but it still stings. For all of them. For all of us.