In today’s AJC, I mention that I’ve never seen the Atlanta Hawks play the way they’re playing. I should note that I’ve seen every edition of the Hawks live and in person since 1984. They moved to Atlanta in 1968.
I didn’t see the Hudson-Caldwell-Bellamy-Bridges teams, and I didn’t see the ones with Maravich, and I barely saw Roundfield before they traded him to Detroit for the Wichita State tandem of Carr and Levingston … but I have seen a thing or two. And I say again: This is the best.
Their record, I concede, is a tip-off (pun intended). They’re on pace to finish 66-16, which would break the franchise record for victories by nine games. Only nine teams in NBA history have ever won more than 66 games: Three of those had Michael Jordan; two had Wilt Chamberlain; one had Shaquille O’Neal; one had Dirk Nowitzki, and the other two were Celtics teams — though none with Bill Russell.
(That’s correct. Not one of Boston’s 11-championship-teams-in-13-years ever won 66 games, although it must be noted that NBA seasons weren’t quite as long for much of that span.)
As noted often, the Hawks have no player of even Nowitzki’s profile, let alone MJ’s or Wilt the Stilt’s. They do, however, have four of All-Star caliber. So said Stan Van Gundy, whose Pistons have lost twice to the Hawks in this 13-game streak. But it wasn’t any of the four — Horford, Korver, Millsap or Teague — who was the difference-maker in Monday’s game.
It was Mike Scott, the Round 2 pick from Virginia. He scored 20 points in 21 minutes and pushed the Hawks over the top in a game all NBA coaches dread — the first home date after an extended road trip. Now this team gets to play six more in a row at Philips Arena, and eight of the next nine. This winning run could last a while longer.
If you’re wondering, the franchise record is 14 in a row, which can be matched by beating Indiana on Wednesday and bettered on Friday against Oklahoma City. The NBA record — I’m sure you know this — is 33 straight by the 1971-1972 Lakers, which many still consider the greatest team ever.
I wouldn’t call the 2014-2015 Hawks the greatest team ever. On the record, they’re second-best to Golden State in today’s NBA. But still: These Hawks are 34-8, having not lost since two days after Christmas. They’re the best Hawks I’ve seen, and I’m guessing they’re the best Hawks you’ve seen as well.