And so the season comes to a sad end for the Atlanta Hawks. They did what those 60-win Hawks couldn’t: make the ECF Conference Finals and not get totally dominated by LeBron. With a roster that, at the beginning of the season, was considered one of the weaker ones in the league, they stomped the Knicks (it seems like so long ago that Dubious Handles disintegrated into a little pile of ash once the playoff spotlight was on him) in the first round, and showed a seriously impressive amount of resolve (I refuse to use the term “heart”) to steal some against Bum Scrubbins and the 76ers. Things didn’t work out so well against the Bucks, probably because the Bucks had former Hawks superstar Jeff Teague (this was totally a REVENGE GAME for him by the way, 11 points is 11 more points than that dude has any business scoring), but this season was an undeniable success. They pushed their timeline forward about 5 years, seriously.
I do get the sense that this was a one-time thing and that they will never get back to this point with their current core. Hate on me all you want, but teams like the Hawks (or even the Bucks) are going to have trouble finding consistent playoff success for as long as the Nets’ big three is intact and uninjured. In the future, people are going to be like “remember when the Hawks were somehow only two wins away from the Finals even though their roster was just Trae Young and a bunch of random role-players?”. That’s actually what I’m thinking right now, but I don’t have to think very far back to remember.
In the end, there just wasn’t enough there to avoid elimination. Trae Young came back, but there’s no way he was even close to 100 percent. Kevin Huerter was awful. Tony Snell got a DNP, come on, McMillan managed to find three spare seconds to give to Solomon Hill, but Snell couldn’t even get in the game? That might be the real reason the Hawks lost the series.
Cam Reddish, for his part, did what he needed to do to try and get the Hawks into game 7. He had been recovering from injury for so long that I kind of forgot about his existence, but he forcefully reminded me of his existence by coming in and hitting 6 threes while his teammates bricked. He can hold his high. He can look at his feeble teammates with disdain and think to himself “I can’t win with these cats”. If the Hawks had won this one, and then won the next one, this would be getting close to a performance that people would remember for years to come. Instead, BOOM, forgotten instantly.
And now the Bucks are in the Finals, and I don’t even have to say it. You know what I’m thinking right now. If you need a hint, try and think of famous quotes by a certain former Bucks point guard by the name of Brandon Jennings.