The Atlanta Hawks — best team in the NBA.
OK, let’s hear it. Let’s hear the tired blather about how they’ll flop in the playoffs because they lack a Go-To Guy, because they’ll wilt under the heat of postseason, because … well, because they’re an Atlanta team and folding is what Atlanta teams do. Go ahead. I’m ready with my rebuttal.
Here it is: Hawks 124, Warriors 116.
And here: The Hawks made 49.4 percent of their shots and 55.6 percent of their 3-pointers against the NBA’s best defense.
Also here: The Hawks scored 72 points in the second half against the team with the NBA’s best defense.
And here as well: The Hawks put seven men — five starters and Mike Scott and Kent Bazemore — in double figures. (Dennis Schroder finished with nine points and had another dauntless fourth quarter.)
And here, too: The Hawks are 42-9, having gone 21-1 since the day after Christmas and 35-3 since Thanksgiving.
Show me a better team right now. You can’t, can you? Because there isn’t one.
This doesn’t mean the Hawks are a lock to win the NBA title. Nobody is. The Warriors aren’t, and they’re really good. LeBron’s Cavs aren’t. Derrick Rose’s Bulls aren’t. Much can and will happen between now and April, but we’re well past the midpoint and, at this moment and for a while now, the Hawks have been the class of the league.
I know this will taken some acclimatization. We’re not used to any Atlanta team, let alone the Hawks, being the best. But you need to start tossing those old assumptions into yonder garbage can. They no longer apply. This is a great team we’re watching, these Atlanta Hawks. A great team, I said.