No one was "happy" with how the Atlanta Hawks fared against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Yes, the season was undoubtedly a success based on the fact that Atlanta even reached that stage of the playoffs, but the team's performance against Cleveland left a lot to be desired. Heading into the 2015-2016 season, one of the biggest questions surrounding the team is how it would approach things in a possible rematch, and James Herbert of CBS tackled that query as part of an offseason report on the Hawks:
The best-case scenario is that the Hawks recapture their midseason magic. There's no reason Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver (after he recovers from his two surgeries), Paul Millsap and Al Horford can't get even sharper when it comes to playing off each other. While what happened most recently makes it easy to forget, there was something super special happening here. No one's going to predict Atlanta will make it out of the East, but with Splitter and a little luck — Holiday being a gem, the Cavaliers getting hurt or stagnant — it's possible. For two straight years, LeBron James has been beaten by great defensive teams that share, push and shoot the hell out of the ball. Sounds like the ideal version of Atlanta.
While portions of this snippet aren't hugely complimentary of the Hawks, it is certainly a blueprint for some level of belief in the team. Earlier in the piece, Herbert referred to the addition of Tiago Splitter as a "good match", but questioned the replacements for DeMarre Carroll in challenging the team's development staff to basically reproduce the magic they captured with the departed forward.
Facing off against Cleveland again would be a "win" in some respects, simply because it likely means that the Hawks advance deep into the playoffs again. Still, the Cavs may be better in 2015-2016, and with Atlanta looking worse on paper in the minds of most pundits, it could be an uphill battle.
The season can't get here fast enough.