BY: OLIVIA VARNSON
(Gainesville, Ga.)—After a regular season that saw the Atlanta Hawks achieve a franchise-record 60 wins and a first place standing in the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference, the first round of the playoffs presents a new challenge for an excited team. The Hawks will face the Brooklyn Nets in what many expect will one of the shorter first round series in the playoffs.
The Hawks are second in the NBA in assists per game. Lacking a superstar player, much of their offense relies on team chemistry and an unselfish style of play. Throughout the season the Hawks players have learned to trust each other and are very willing to share the ball and give up shot opportunities for their teammates. The Hawks also rank fifth in the league in opponents’ points per game, meaning their defense holds opponents to a fifth best scoring average.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have entered the playoffs with a losing record, racking up only 38 wins and 44 losses. The Nets ranked twentieth in the league in assists per game. Going against the Hawks top-five defense will make it even more of a challenge for the Nets to move the basketball and create a variety of scoring opportunities. On top of those struggles, the Nets will also have to defend the Hawks with only an eighteenth-ranked opponents’ points per game average.
Hawks fans should be warned not to breathe too easily about this first round match-up. Upsets can happen. Despite the strengths of the Hawks, they also give up the most three-point attempts in the league. They are also a poor rebounding team. The Nets fought hard to earn a spot in the playoffs, and they will search for any weakness in their opponent.
The Hawks and Nets playoff schedule is as follows: Sun. April 19, Wed. April 22, Sat. April 25 and Mon. April 27. If the series is tied, more games will be scheduled until one team wins four games.