Tag: NFL

Atlanta Hawks Playoff Run

By Avner Belsky

ATLANTA — Everyone loves a good underdog story. They love seeing the unexpected suddenly happen right before their eyes. You are witnessing not only Atlanta history, but NBA history. The Atlanta Hawks, who just a year ago couldn’t even imagine making the playoffs, have made a strong postseason push that has landed them a coveted spot in the Eastern Conference finals.   

The Atlanta Hawks finished the regular season 41-31, which was good enough to guarantee them a spot in the playoffs as the 5th seed. Going into their first playoff series since 2015 they were already the underdogs and faced the fourth-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks had no problem moving past New York, pulling off a 4-1 “Gentleman’s sweep.”  

In the next round, the Hawks faced Joel Emiid’s 76ers. Going into that series it was looking like the Hawks playoff “luck” had just about run out.

Hawks star Trae Young had something else to say about that.

Throughout that series, he averaged 29 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 10.9 assists.

More importantly, Young’s play led the Hawks to a series victory over Philadelphia and on to the Eastern Conference finals. 

“Trae’s scoring ability has put him in the national spotlight considering the platform of his achievements beating the New York Knicks in a hostile environment and the improbable upset of Philadelphia,” said Ronald Agers who covers the Hawks for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network along with being a SLAM magazine contributing writer.  

Agers added, “The leadership and overall play of Ice Trae leads directly to interim head coach Nate McMillan. Ever since he took over for the (fired) Lloyd Pierce, he attached accountability to Young that might not have been there his first couple of years. Trae looked like the second hand version of Stephen Curry shooting numerous 30 foot shots a game.”

Even with Young’s individual success, the Hawks have shown to be more than just a one-man show.   

Without Young in the lineup, the Hawks have still proven to be a formidable opponent. Young suffered a right ankle injury in Game 3 which kept him out of the lineup for Game 4. Atlanta responded with a series-tying victory despite not having their best player available. 

“The Hawks have been underdogs in both series so far and now are big underdogs (against) Milwaukee,” said Hawks co-owner Jesse Itzler. “That hasn’t bothered anyone so far and in fact, I think fires this team up. We have a lot to prove. I hope this team serves as an inspiration to underdogs all over the world.”

The city of Atlanta was demanding a change and better results.

That is exactly what happened, after the firing of Pierce. They promoted Hawks assistant Nate McMillan, a veteran NBA head coach, to interim head coach. Since becoming the Hawks’ interim head coach, Atlanta has a 27-11 record which ranks among the league’s best during that span.  

“(McMillan) has done a great job of letting players play and letting his leaders lead,” said Curtis Washington who played at Georgia State and now plays overseas. “He gives them the game plan and then lets them play their game without over coaching.”  

There is a lot to be said about that coaching style. The NBA has tons of coaches across the league trying to over coach and make up complicated game plans and plays. McMillan has found that perfect balance between structure and letting his players do what they do best and what they are paid to do – Win.

And they do this as a team which has become one of their strengths and a key to their unexpected success. 

“One thing you see in the Atlanta Hawks is the power of teamwork,” Itzler said. “This is a team that is unselfish and supportive of each other. When everyone is playing together rather than individually … amazing things can happen. Trae is a great example of that. It’s amazing what a team playing together can accomplish. You can never underestimate soul and heart. We play with both.”

(Also published in Boston University’s paper “The Terrier”)

Top 3 Teams That Have the Highest Odds of Winning the Super Bowl

As you know that this COVID 19 pandemic has denied us the sports we love and live for, but that does not mean we can’t still have fun with “Off-season stuff”

Today I will select the top 3 teams out of the NFL that in my professional opinion will have the highest odds making it deep in the playoffs and potentially being the next Super Bowl champions. 

My number one is the Kansas City Chiefs. A lot of you probably saw this one coming, but think about it, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t put last years Super Bowl champions down and with the amount of youth and talent that they have I definitely would not be surprised if they won back to back Super Bowl titles. They have Patrick Mahomes who in my book currently is the best Quarter Back in the NFL right now, they have the “Speed Demon” Tyreek Hill who literally not even Usain Bolt could keep up with, they have their big man Tight End Travis Kelce who is basically a foot taller than any defensive player who tries to guard him, and they have Damien Williams who is Kareem Hunt, a lot of people are taking for granted his greatness. This is a pretty packed team, so watch out NFL these Chiefs are ready to rumble.

The second team on this list is the Baltimore Ravens. You all probably know Lamar Jackson had one of the most magical seasons in NFL history. Ravens fans were disappointed when they were defeated very early in the 2019 playoffs. Their Captain, their savior, and literally their only hope Lamar Jackson was inexperienced and young. This year I think he is going to have what it takes to go deep in the playoffs and have a chance at that Lombardi Trophy. Let me introduce or reintroduce their star players to you. First, on the list, you all have to know, Lamar Jackson who is their starting Quarter Back. He is the definition of fast, quick, and in a hurry. Lamar is one of the most successful and driven mobile Quarter Backs in the NFL! Second, we have their star Wide Receiver, some call him “Hollywood Brown”, please welcome Marquise Brown. Third, we have the older but still shifty Mark Ingram III. I would not be surprised by this team’s ability to find the red zone and their quick way of making acumen decisions.

The third and final team on this list, are the New Orlean Saints. This is a very sustainable and well-known team, and they are known for getting the job done and winning. They have an incredibly young and talented team, with the exception of Drew Brees, but his raw talent makes up for his age. The Saints are known for getting mid or deep into the playoffs, but not usually winning the whole thing. I think that all might just change this year. Let me show you their star players and why I believe they are Super Bowl material. First, let me introduce you to the all mighty accurate throw making and clutch Quarter Back Drew Brees. he as you know is getting older, but just like Tom Brady, it does not seem to be affecting him as much. Hey, he should take what he should get, but seriously he is one of the most talented players in the NFL all jokes aside. Second, let me introduce you to the ankle breaker himself Alvin Kamara, who is the starting Running Back for the Saints. Third, let me introduce you to Mr. “Throw anything within 15 yards of him and he catches it”, Michael Thomas who is the starting and primary Wide Receiver target. I have to say after looking at their depth chart I realized this team is very special for a couple of reasons. 

First, all of their starters are incredibly talented. Second, their backups are basically just as good. For example, Jamies Winston is their back up Quarter Back, Latavius Murray is their back up Running Back, and Taysom Hill is their back up Wide Receiver and back up back up Quarterback. Third, they have a player who can play three positions Taysom Hill. He can play Tight End, Wide Receiver, and Quarterback. Now that’s rare! This team is really special and filled with talent and so much potential. This team might just win it all.

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