|Still the best logo|
None of my metaphors for the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs are working this morning.
The Hawks performance in the playoffs this year isn't "just icing on the cake," because the cake hasn't even been baked yet. We don't even have all the ingredients for the recipe. What we do have is a chef who seems to know what he's doing, and we haven't had that in our kitchen for a long time.
Nor does it feel right to say that the Hawks are "playing with house money" in the postseason, although this metaphor feels a bit more appropriate than the last. Still, you wouldn't necessarily say that the Hawks are ahead of the game just yet. Again, all we know is that we have a smart player holding the cards.
|The Atlanta Hawks 2012-2013 MVP|
So let's just call these playoffs what they should be: a letter of thanks to the fans who have stuck by the team through the hard times (which for Hawks fans, really means "all the times").
Don't get me wrong. I believe this team can beat the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, and any other Eastern Conference team that doesn't have LeBron James. I would be extremely delighted - but not drastically surprised - to see Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals, admittedly because we play in the weaker conference where every opponent (save for Miami) is noticeably flawed.
But I won't be disappointed - and neither should any Hawks fans - if we don't make it out of the first round, because of the knowledge that we are one of the best "rebuilding mode" teams I've seen in a long time. We have valuable young assets, lots of cap space, and a GM who has earned the benefit of the doubt.
I'm also calling it a good thing that we didn't wind up in the #5 slot, not only because we would be playing Miami in the 2nd round, but also because I didn't want to spend the next two weeks reading about "Joe Johnson versus the team that traded him."
So then what does success look like for the playoffs? Only that our team plays hard and shows that they care about winning basketball games. We'll be underdogs (and rightfully so) in every game from this point forward, and what's more fun than rooting for a dangerous team that isn't supposed to win, but just might do so?
Just the same, when I settle in to watch the Hawks take on the Pacers, I'll have peace of mind knowing that all I really need to see is what I already know we have: talented players who are committed to building a strong program moving forward.
If that doesn't translate to four wins before four losses, so be it.
Our season starts this summer.