The Atlanta Hawks had the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are favored to beat them and advance to the NBA Finals. The disregard for the Hawks is palpable—and misguided. The regular season counts for something—a lot, actually. And here is why they will send LeBron James and the Cavs fishing for the summer.
Home City Advantage
Atlanta is party central for the entire NBA. The restaurants, lounges, night clubs, adult entertainment spots… they draw NBA players out of their hotel rooms as if by a trance. The late-night carousing wears on a team’s legs and concentration. In an evenly matched series like this one, that energy edge very well could be a difference-maker. And even if the Cavs decide to stay in their room, they won’t be watching Being Mary Jane. The “entertainment” can—and will—come to them.
Best Team Advantage
The Hawks’ unselfish style of play has been the hallmark of the best season in franchise history. Part of the reason they are disregarded is because they do not have a superstar player. But they have four all-stars, who, if they play to their regular-season stature, far exceed the Cavs, who do not have an injured Kevin Love. Talent wins, and the Hawks have more of it.