Hawks Right There In Muddied East

Monday, December 2, 2013
By Jaryd Wilson

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks haven’t been playing great basketball as of late, having lost four of their past five, but that hasn’t changed their early position as the Eastern Conference’s #3 seed thanks to some poor playing by others below them.

As we approach the quarter point in the NBA season, it appears clear that the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are the two best teams right now.  After that, things are a mess.

standings

The Hawks are currently third but don’t have a winning record (9-9).  No one in the Atlantic division is within four games of .500, meaning the Toronto Raptors currently occupy the fourth slot despite just six wins.

The Chicago Bulls, who were expected to compete with Miami and Indiana before losing Derrick Rose to a season-ending knee injury for the second straight season, are a game under .500, though I expect they’ll still be competitive sans the former MVP.  Chicago is sandwiched between two of Atlanta’s division rivals, the Washington Wizards (#5), and the Charlotte Bobcats (#7).  The Detroit Pistons round out the playoff-bound teams should the season end today.

Perhaps more surprising than the down overall play of the East is what is happening in New York.  Both the Knicks and the Nets were expected by many to challenge for a conference championship, but so far they are a combined 8-25.  Yes, both have dealt with injuries, but it’s a bit or a surprising start in my opinion.

Coach Bud has been asked about the situation with the standings and hasn’t had much to say other than he’s only focused on his own team.  That’s the right answer, but it’s hard to look past what’s happening, even though there’s a lot of basketball to be played.

With the waters muddied, Atlanta has a real opportunity to put themselves in good position.  They got through a 17-game November, their busiest month, and the schedule thins out now in December.  With more rest and more home games coming, the next four weeks will be big for the Hawks in terms of establishing position in the East as we head toward the new year.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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