The Atlanta Hawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
They also won their division for the first time since 2015.
The Atlanta Hawks have won the Southeast Division title.
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) May 16, 2021
Their outlook wasn’t the best in the beginning of the season.
After an offseason that was filled with spending to make a playoff run, they looked like a lottery team once again.
Lloyd Pierce was the coach and the results were not being met.
The front office had to step in and hand over the reins to Nate McMillan.
McMillan has been a coach for a long period of time and has found some success as a head coach.
He is a defensive-minded coach that can bring middling teams to the playoffs.
That is the case this season.
With Coach McMillan at the helm, the Hawks finished with a 26-12 record with him.
The Hawks finished as the fifth seed and are now facing the New York Knicks in the first round.
OFFICIAL: The Atlanta Hawks (5th seed) will play the New York Knicks (4th seed) in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/EOXFbG1Cpk
— Georgia Sports Now (@GASportsNow) May 16, 2021
They have had a great season thus far.
Now can they turn that success into a playoff run?
It is All Up To Trae
Teams in the playoffs go as far as their best player will take them.
That is no different with the Hawks and Trae Young.
Young has been playing at an All-Star level this season.
He might even get some All-NBA recognition as well.
Trae Young BETTER make an All-NBA team this season! The man is averaging a casual 25 points a night and handing out 9.5 assists…btw the Hawks has clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Carry the hell on…
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) May 13, 2021
Trae is undoubtedly the Hawks’ best player and the guy they ride with to the finish line.
Their first-round matchup will be difficult, as the Knicks are the best defensive team in the league this season.
However, in three games against the Knicks, he has been able to put up his typical numbers.
In three games, he has averaged 24.7 points per game and 12 assists per game.
On the flip side, those numbers were hard to get, as he shot 36 percent from the field.
Young is going to have to fix that percentage in order to lead the Hawks to the second round for the first time since 2016.
Can They Beat the Sixers?
If the Hawks can get past the first round, they will most likely have to face off against the number one-seeded Philadelphia 76ers.
They would have to have a superhero performance to take four games away from this Sixers team.
Joel Embiid has been a monster all season and could have been the MVP, if it wasn’t for missing time with an injury.
The Hawks have Clint Capela, who is a big rebounding force, to take on Embiid down low.
Capela is a very good defensive big.
However, Embiid is too good for anyone to stop him.
The Hawks would need to find a way to get the ball out of his hands and have their supporting cast beat them.
The realistic expectations for the Hawks should be a second-round appearance.
Everything else will be gravy on top of a great season that almost slipped away.
The future is bright for them as Young is still super young and only getting better.
The Hawks have a chance to be very good soon.