2012 NBA Playoff Postmortem: Atlanta Hawks

Al Horford and Jeff Teague go down in the first round
to the ailing and aging Boston Celtics.
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)

Did you even notice?

I almost didn’t.

Because these are the Atlanta Hawks – the poor man’s San Antonio Spurs of the East.

The big difference, of course, is that the Spurs have won 4 titles starting in 1999. The Spurs, as boring as a lot of people make them out to be, are damn good.

The Hawks?

Good, but not THAT good.

Even now, when they were good enough to have the 4th-best record in the East despite not having 2011 All-Star center Al Horford for all but 11 games.

Even now, when Josh Smith put up All-Star-worthy numbers and when he figured in quite a few highlight reels.

Even now, when Jeff Teague seems to be coming into his own, albeit slower than a lot of people expected.

The thing about the Hawks, especially the post-Dominique Wilkins Hawks, is that they just don’t have a lot of appeal. They’re good, but not remarkable. They’re efficient, but not entertaining.

You’ll care about whether they’re winning, but you won’t go out of your way to watch them on NBA TV or Basketball TV, if their games are being shown at all.

Remember how good the 90s Hawks were? The ones with Dikembe Mutombo, Christian Laettner, Steve Smith, and Mookie Blaylock? That was a damn good team that gave Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan some headaches.

But nobody picked them when playing NBA Jam.

This most recent iteration of the Hawks seems to have everything a basketball fan is looking for – on paper.

AL Horford is the tough guy.

Zaza Pachulia is the enforcer.

Josh Smith is the high-flyer.

Joe Johnson is the dependable shooter.

Kirk Hinrich is the backcourt defensive stopper.

Jeff Teague is the streaky young gun.

They should be nice to watch, right?

Yeah, but, somehow, they’re just not.

Which is really why hardly anyone will miss them.

And the not-so-good thing is that the immediate future promises much of the same.

ATL’s big three of Horford, Smith, and Johnson enjoy a lion’s share of the franchise’s salary space, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for added help (and appeal) for next season.

UNLESS, and this is a BIG unless, they make a blockbuster deal before November comes along.

They almost did in February, when Josh Smith made no bones about the possibility of switching uniforms. Given Johnson’s bloated contract, Smith is really the Hawks’ best bet at trading for new talent, but do they really want to part with the one player who can really get them the fans’ adoration? The one player who really carried them when Horford was in sick bay?

I don’t think that’ll happen, unless they get a couple of young, promising guns like, say, a Josh Smith-and-Jeff Teague-for-Danilo Gallinari-and-Ty-Lawson deal or something to that effect.

Josh Smith. He's the biggest talent, and biggest trade-bait, that
the Hawks have for next season.
(image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
So if you’re a Hawks fan (really, how many of you are there?), then you can rest easy in the fact your team will still be a borderline title contender, but if you’re one of the millions of “Yah, the Hawks, I know them, they’re good, right?” people, then you probably won’t even care.

Game Recaps:

MEM over LAC, 90-88
Mike Conley hit the go-ahead three-pointer, Marc Gasol poured in 23 points and the Memphis Grizzlies lived to fight another day with a 90-88 victory over the LA Clippers in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. Conley finished with 13 points, Zach Randolph had 18 to go with 16 rebounds and Rudy Gay chipped in another 13 points for the Grizzlies, who have forced a decisive Game 7 in consecutive seasons. Memphis took Oklahoma City to a Game 7 in last season's conference semifinals, but was routed by 15 points. Blake Griffin netted a team-high 17 points for the Clippers despite spraining his knee in Game 5 on Wednesday. Chris Paul had 11 points and seven assists while dealing with a strained right hip flexor, also suffered Wednesday. Game 7 is set for Sunday in Memphis. The West's No. 1 seed, San Antonio, awaits the winner in the Western semifinals.

Zach Randolph is pissed that Reggie Evans copied
his trademark headband fashion statement.
(image by Mark J. Terrill/AP)
*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from Reuters, the Associated Press and the Sports Network.
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