Sometimes we, as fans, need to just sit back and enjoy what we’re watching. In today’s current age of basketball, we are obsessed with teams playing “the right way”, or the smart way. The basketball needs to be in its purest form with crisp passing, perfect rotations, and not a single iota of ugliness to be found. Well sometimes basketball ain’t pretty and that’s probably a nice way to describe the Hawks-Wizards series that just wrapped up.
Atlanta managed to pull out a huge victory over Washington in six dramatic games that involved everything we ask for out of a playoff series. It had story lines, game winners, players toughing it out through injuries, and all the trash talk we could ever hope for. The only problems is that it wasn’t always the prettiest basketball in the world.
Atlanta was an extremely enjoyable team for much of the regular season, and they were champions of exactly what everybody wants their basketball to be. Washington on the other hand was one of the more painful teams to watch. Their offense was composed of mid-range jumpshots and an outdated philosophy that left many modern NBA fans throwing their hands in the air. When the two teams met, the series felt like it had already been decided. Atlanta played “the right way” while Washington had only recently shown an acknowledgement of 21st century basketball with their sweep of the Toronto Raptors. However, due to a lackluster first round from Atlanta, and John Wall being one of best point guards in the NBA, there was reason to believe this might be closer than originally thought.
Luckily for NBA fans everywhere, the regular season Wizards had disappeared and were replaced with a much more fun and exciting team. Atlanta on the other hand carried over their struggles from the first round leaving many of us to scratch our heads. For whatever reason, the Hawks couldn’t make their open shots and this left a door open for the Wizards to take advantage. Which was then immediately slammed shut by a hand injury sidelining John Wall. It looked as if nobody was going to get the fun series they had all hoped for.
Of course, what is “fun” is all a matter of perception. Does a lack of John Wall and Hawks 3-point shooting take away from what could have been an absolutely incredible series? Yes, and it’s painful that we were robbed of that. Even so, that doesn’t all of a sudden turn this series into something dull that we couldn’t enjoy.
This series had an incredible amount of dramatics that, when combined with a playoff atmosphere, created some of the most tense basketball we’ll see all season. The majority of the games came down to the last few possessions and really they could have gone either way. Atlanta could have won the series in five if it wasn’t for Paul Pierce’s clutch bank shot to win game three, or Washington might have won the series in six had Paul Pierce made his final attempt of game four, or if Al Horford hadn’t stolen his Game five dagger with a tip in, and if his final shot in game six had counted. It was that close.
Making the series even better was the incredible return of John Wall. Fans love a guy that shows toughness by playing through an injury, or making an unexpected return, and even though it didn’t end up swinging the series, Wall still added some real excitement. Playing with one hand, he still had the ability to split the double team and find the wide open guy in the corner, or show off his insane athleticism when blocking shots. Wall was everywhere and he gave Atlanta a challenge they won’t soon forget.
Finally, we have the storyline that helped truly make this a fun series. Atlanta has never once been to the Eastern Conference Finals. The last time they made it to a conference final of any kind was when they were in the West, and the playoff format back then wasn’t what it is today. Battling Atlanta was a Washington franchise that has equally had their fair share of playoff disappointments over the last few decades. Either way, one fanbase is going to feel a familiar sense of failure, and the other will be tasting fresh and brand new success. How is that not something we can all sit back and enjoy?
In the end it was Atlanta that got to experience that fresh new success, but it was in a fun and hard fought series. The basketball may have not always been the greatest, but everything that surrounded the series made up for it in spades. The story lines were great, and the series was carried by dramatics and games that could have been decided by a coin flip. Even though our current age says we can’t enjoy ugly games, sometimes we just have to sit back and enjoy the moment. If we don’t, we end up glossing over the fun parts.