The Atlanta Hawks have taken an odd turn from last season to this year. Last year they were one of the most efficient teams and now they have taken a step back offensively, but have become one of the most elite defensive teams in the NBA. They lost Demarre Carroll who they stuck on the LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Paul Georges of the world. Bringing that into account you would think the Hawks would take a step back, but instead have improved on that end. They may not have won 60 games this season, but they cannot be overlooked.
Last year there was confusion who was the best player on the team. You had so many guys who seemed to have almost equal impact and there were those who thought this hurt them. (I never thought there was an issue with it personally.) This year it has been made clear that Paul Millsap is the best player on the team on both sides of the floor. He has been receiving a lot all NBA defensive nods, and I approve of it. He has been that good on that end and on the other side he has become one of the most efficient post scorers in the game ranking in the 90th percentile in post up possessions. He leads the team in win shares, box +/-, and value over replacement player. He has stepped up to the plate and done exactly what the team has needed him to this year.
The main thing the Hawks have going for them is their efficiency shooting jumpers. Even though that efficiency has gone down slightly since last year they are still among the elite in that area. Jeff Teague is absolutely crazy on spot ups ranking in the 98th percentile. This team has to get that going which will be hard against the Celtics who play very strong against the 3 point shot and have the guys who are willing to chase shooters around. With all of this being said I do have the Atlanta Hawks winning in 7 over the Celtics barely. I think this will be one of the better matchups of the first round and Atlanta’s defense I believe will edge them over the Celtics.