Eastern Conference Playoffs Preview
For the fourth time this series, Washington Wizards’ Paul Pierce had the ball in his hands with the game on the line. For the third time the series, he came through in the final seconds for the Wizards. But this time was different, it was less than a second too late. The Atlanta Hawks’ 94-91 victory on Friday ended their 44-year drought without a trip to the conference finals is. The Wizards’ on the other hand continue to have a 36-year drought.
The Wizards showed great improvement in offensive efficiency as they lacked to put the ball in the basket during the regular season. They shot 40% from the 3 point line during the postseason. Bradley Beal turned into the best player in the series, shutting down Kyle Korver and not giving him the space to breath. Otto Porter showed he was a defensive star and an athletic freak. John Wall turned into a do-everything point guard that filled practically every stat on the sheet when healthy. Paul Pierce still reminded us all why he’s one of the most clutch players in NBA history. But it wasn’t enough to beat the Atlanta Hawks who knocked off the fast paced Washington Wizards in 6 games.
Five of six games were decided by 6 points or less. Atlanta is now moving on and Washington is heading home. The Hawks will be facing Lebron and the Cavs. The Cavs were able to shoot lights out from the three point line throughout most of the series, but it’s important to remember that Kevin Love also played in those games, as well as a healthy Kyrie Irving. Now that Kevin Love is out for the playoffs, and Kyrie Irving has lingering injuries in his ankles and feet, it will be tough to overcome the odds. One thing the Cavs still have is Lebron James, and he gives any team a chance to contend in a series. The Cavs have a good amount of depth as well, as Tristan Thompson is playing great, and JR Smith and Iman Shumpert have rediscovered their talent in Cleveland. Another player that isn’t talked about much is Matthew Dellavedova, who’s providing a great spark off the bench and turning into a key role player for the Cavs. The Atlanta Hawks are the ball moving, shoot if your open team, they don’t care about their stats or how they play. The Cavs are a great team, and Lebron is the best player on the planet right now, but this Atlanta team is playing with a chip on their shoulder. The Hawks are a team full of players that didn’t fit anywhere else but found a role in the team first system. They are out to prove all the critics wrong, and there is no better team to do it against. My ultimate prediction is that the Hawks will move onto the NBA finals, and they do it no better way than knocking off Lebron James.