Three x-factors that could help the Atlanta Hawks pull off an unlikely NBA Playoff upset.
The 7th-seeded Atlanta Hawks have a tough road ahead of them in the playoffs as they are matched up with the 2nd-seeded Boston Celtics. The Hawks went 41-41 in the regular season and were in the 8-spot heading into the play-in tournament, but they knocked off the Heat 116-105 in one of their best performances of the season to secure the 7th seed in the playoffs.
Boston is a very deep team that is headlined by two stars in MVP-candidate Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics can beat you on both sides of the court (fourth in the NBA this season in both points scored per game and points allowed per game). The advanced stats are even more impressive. Boston was second this season in BOTH team offensive rating and team defensive rating. They had the best team NET rating in the league this year at +6.7. The point is that the Hawks have a lot of work ahead of them. However, this is a talented Hawks team as well.
Who will step up for the Atlanta Hawks?
Also, I am not including Trae Young as an x-factor. Yes, it is true that he is the ultimate x-factor for the Hawks, but I feel like everyone already knows that, so it’s not worth using one of the 3 spots on him.
In general, I try not to use stars as x-factors for that reason. Young just got done leading the league in total assists for the second straight season, while also averaging 26.2 points per game. A rough start to the year led to his efficiency being down as a whole (42.9 FG% and 33.5 3P%).
However, he was a lot better in the second half of the year, averaging 25.9 points and 10.3 assists per game on 44.4% shooting from the field and 36.9% from deep from December 16th through the end of the season. If the Hawks want to pull the 7-2 upset, then they’ll Young to play well. However, he’ll also need some help.