This Hawks team is already successful, but… – BY DAN MATHEWS

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) shoots as Houston Rockets forward Kelly Olynyk (41) rushes in to try to block during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

May 18, 2021
I said before the season and still maintain that just making the playoffs was a massive success for this team. When you have a core group who has in most cases never experienced postseason success, you can’t get too greedy with expectations. 

If I were to tell you before their first game in December, that this team would finish 41-31 and win the Southeast Division? You would take that in a heartbeat. What if I told you that Lloyd Pierce would be let go and this team would play without key members of their organization for much of the season? I think you’re getting the same answer. 

This team’s success to this point is very much a huge credit to Travis Schlenk’s ability to build the roster. Major kudos also need to be given to soon to be permanent head coach Nate McMillan. 

This is still a young roster in their core group of players. A team full of young players would usually do one of two things in the event of a coaching change. They would just punt to the next season and start over again. Or, you can do what this team did. They responded to McMillan and were ready to help this team reach their potential. 

In all honesty, we should be getting ready to watch this Hawks team take part in the Play-In tournament. But, a seven or eight seed in the playoffs would have been a huge jump from winning no more than 30 games in a season.

However, you’re here now. So when you get into the playoffs, make the most of it. We’ve gotten tired of hearing the national media (Bill Simmons) take shots at Trae Young, right? So, it’s time for Trae to stop that narrative and turn it around to him being one of the best in the league. This is the time of year when you can change the way people think about your game. 

I get that I’ve said this season is already a success. But, make it even more successful. Win this series against the Knicks. Honestly, I think you’re the better team and a bad matchup for New York. 

If they do win this series, give the next team a hard time. It will more than likely be the Philadelphia 76ers. You would be a huge underdog, but still play them like you have nothing to lose. 

I want this Hawks team to come out of the playoffs with all the national experts singing the praises of this team. The playoffs are when you get that chance. 

So again, make the most of this chance. Show the rest of the league that this is only the beginning of this team being a competitor for the Eastern Conference title and a run at the NBA Finals.

Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host 
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

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