This Week In The Southeast, The Hawks finished the greatest month in NBA history despite some talk about them not being quite playoff ready. Washington has stumbled back down to third in the conference, and it might be time to be concerned about their inability to beat elite teams. Towards the bottom of the playoff standings are the Heat and Hornets fighting for the 7-seed. Both teams have been disappointing this year and want to have some success, and they’ll have a better time convincing themselves of that if they don’t finish 8th. Then at the very bottom is Orlando, but all of their headlines relate to off court issues rather than on court ones.
Atlanta Hawks, 40-8, 1st in the East, 4-0 this week
Once again, the Hawks finish the week perfect, but that’s not even the most impressive thing they accomplished. The Hawks have finished the month of January undefeated with a 17-0 record. They are the only team to do that in NBA history and it’s not like they had a cake walk of a month. January has featured victories over Toronto, Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Washington just to name a few. However, despite the fantastic month, they just had there are still concerns being brought up. Everybody agrees the Hawks are a great regular season team, but many experts question how a team like this can handle a seven game series. They reference the physicality and star factors of the playoffs could cause Atlanta to struggle. These are valid concerns, but it’s hard to bring them up at the moment with the Hawks on a 19-game winning streak. They also feel like a lot of speculation without much evidence to back it up, but that’s the way it’s going to be until the playoffs. Atlanta will have to prove they can win against the same opponent over and over again, and history has suggested that execution style teams like Atlanta can struggle in that kind of setting. However, on Atlanta’s side is what they are achieving as only been accomplished by previous NBA champions.
Washington Wizards, 31-17, 3rd in the East, 2-2 this week
The Wizards are a very good basketball team, and they’ve shown that with their 31 wins this season. This week they managed to grab victories over the Lakers and Nuggets. The Lakers are bad, but the Nuggets are randomly good sometimes making that a nice win. Afterwards they lost the back to back to Phoenix, which is disappointing, but to be expected. However, the Wizards lost their most important game of the week and that was their Saturday game, at home, to Toronto. They let the Raptors go up big, but were able to force a comeback and go to overtime. They ended up losing in overtime and that continues this trend of Washington not being able to beat top NBA teams. This might not matter for a lot of people, but it’s something to take note of as the NBA shifts towards playoff races.