What To Make Of The Rest In The East?

Steve Nash‘s long-awaited return to action no doubt captivated most of us during the NBA’s Saturday night fiesta.

But while Nash, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were busy trying to get things in order in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, there was another intriguing matchup between wannabe contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks locked up at Philips Arena in a battle of teams we’re still not quite sure what to make of, what with the Heat and Knicks having already distanced themselves from the pack. A night earlier both teams were at polar opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. The Bulls smashed their way through a physical battle with the Knicks in New York, while the Hawks got stroked by 19 points by the Sixers in Philadelphia.

Fast forward a night and the same two teams looked totally different. In a head-to-head matchup the Hawks dominated the final three quarters of on their way to a 92-75 win.

The game was one thing, a battle of wills between teams trying to forget about the night before in time for a cruel schedule punch that required they both spend no time enjoying or sulking about what happened the night before. The reactions to the outcome from both sides, however, was the truly entertaining part of the night.

Since no one in either locker room has a good explanation for why they can perform at such a high level one night and then fall so flat the next.

“It was a different night, that’s all,” said Hawks guard Lou Williams. “I’m sure you don’t report your best every night. In different games, your body feels different. Your body responds different. Sometimes you travel, sometimes you get an opportunity to sleep in your own bed. Small things like that make a difference.”

Bulls center Joakim Noah, who was in the middle of the action in the win over the Knicks, could tell something was a bit off against the Hawks, who like the Bulls have both impressed with quality wins this season while perplexing with peculiar losses as well.

“We had a letdown because we lost,” Noah said. “One night you come out and play so well and you feel great, and then the next night you come out with the wrong mindset and don’t play well. Our energy was bad, and we settled for too many shots early in the clock. When you’re tired, sometimes you just have to move the ball around, and we didn’t do that. We let (the Hawks) play to their strengths. We can’t get too up or too down about the last two days. You just have to learn from the experience and move on from it.”

If anyone is going to mount a serious challenge to the Heat or Knicks in the East this season, it will have to come from a small group of teams based on what we’ve seen through the first trimester of this season. The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets,  Boston Celtics and Sixers have all looked the part at times throughout the past two months. And yet it’s hard to tell if any one of these teams is legitimately up to the task.

We know the Bulls’ chances of mounting that challenge improve dramatically if Derrick Rose is able to return from ACL surgery at anywhere near the MVP-level he played at before going down.

What might surprise some is that the Hawks will need a similar charge from the same position if they are going to shed the label of pretenders and take a seat at the table with the true contenders in the East.

“That was probably one of our most energized wins thus far this year,” said Hawks coach Larry Drew, who Saturday night became the second-fastest Hawks coach to reach 100 wins (behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens). “I thought at the very beginning our guys did a really good job, and it started with Jeff Teague and his energy defensively at the very beginning. It was a very clear contrast from [Friday night], where I thought he was a little laid back and didn’t really exert himself defensively. I thought he did a phenomenal job with that. When he does that, he just gets us going. It’s something we talk to Jeff about and something we’ll stay on him about constantly to keep him in the mind frame of being the aggressor defensively, because the rest of the guys feed off of that.”

If the Hawks, like the Bulls, want to be taken seriously, the time to step up is now.


  1. Mirza says:

    what a crazy game it was , if anyone needs Free Livestream for NBA u can watch it here

  2. No friends during the season, all competition & taking care of business. 🙂 Off season sure, for friendships. Green never hates on x-green just competition from fans perspective-same as our players. 🙂

  3. Yeah sure ny is atop atlantic @ the moment, however they’ll falloff come jan-feb-live by the 3 die by the 3!!! Comon now even if ur a Green hater yall know Celts D###### will tighten up as it’s not to bad now, just needs more consistency in playn harder than a .500 team-Celts will be in top 4.
    Come playoff time standings will be as is:
    1.Boston or 1. miami
    2.miami or 2. Boston
    Don’t forget Div. champs. hold top 4 or is it 3 since it’s only 3 div each conf? I forget how 4th seed works, is it best record from there on? i thought it was best rec from 5 on but it’s only 3 div.
    Yeah n.y.’s better this year, however; question is do they pose threat to Celts post season-NOT!!! I’m just not impressed w/ ny early season record. As time goes on Celts have & will the longevity. Even miami w/ RayRay(no i’m not haten on him lol) know Celts will be biggest threat when it really really comes down to it!!!
    Celts prevail 2013 nuff said!!! 🙂

  4. Laker fan 2012 says:

    Predictions for the 2013 playoffs

    1. Heat
    2. Knicks
    3. Atlanta
    4. Chicago
    5. Boston
    6. Brooklyn
    7. Indiana
    8. Philadelphia

  5. chris says:

    It will be the Pacers they aare playing like last year. recently winning 5 of 6. Granger will only help with the offense and our defense is best in the league statisticly. Hibberts offensive problems are silently being put to rest, Paul George was eastern Conference player of the week and is only getting better. Pacers are old fashion and no one will talk about them. Knicks are all hype they live by the jump shot and are wimps who complain about everything when it doesn’t go there way. Be Physical with them and they will back down which is exactly what the Pacers do.

  6. erica says:

    My predictions for the East.
    1. Heat
    2. K nicks
    3. Brooklyn
    4. Atlanta
    5. Chicago
    6. Boston
    7. Philadelphia
    8. Milwaukee or Pacers

    Miami Heat 2013 Champions!!

  7. hawks all day says:

    Hawks are just one good shot blocking center away from taking the east ..lets go HOTlanta

  8. mike says:

    get serious hawks fans, u have 2 chances of seeing ur team in the ECF, bucklys and slim, and slims packing his bags as we speak

  9. Lakers-R-Us says:

    The Knicks are playing well but the Heat are still the team to beat in the east.

  10. jimmy the #1 atlanta hawks fan! says:

    The Hawks are fine right now! You guys get all over the fact that we lost to the 76ers! I watch every Atlanta Hawks game and I will be the first one to tell you that we lost on Friday, and we played bad. But I didn’t see NBA.com jump on the fact that Miami lost to the Wizards! I don’t believe the Hawks lost to the Wizards yet. For crying out loud the Hawks are 16-9! They have beaten the Thunder, Grizzlies, Clippers, and Bulls, all of which were by 9 points or more! The Hawks are fine. Stop saying the Hawks are somehow bad now because we post two in a row before last night! Be real!

  11. ee says:

    the hawks are irrelivant they will just lose in the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs just like every other year, need to break that team up

    • chigchig says:

      getting rid of 2 starting players, a bunch of bench players and getting 5 new rotation players isnt breaking things up? this team has the cap to make noise next year in FA, if they make the right moves…they have let me down before though (marvin over paul and deron, constantly drafting SF and PF and not guards, JJs max) but hopefully ferry can turn this puppy round and get them to that next level!

  12. Germi Zeigler says:

    the hawks honestly……..need a new coach who is going to push them to the next level.dont get me wrong i love larry drew but he kinda seems a little like a push over when it comes to josh smith.Ifeel like mike woodson was the best coach for him.because he stayed on top of josh smiths game.secondly we dont need a super star we need a REAL CENTER.Al Horford is a PF,Josh smith is a SF.bUT every game they start a postition up.I bet Dwight howard wish he would have came.thats just how i feel.we need running highflyers like,dwight howard,blake griffin,ect…u get the picture.thats what type of team the hawks alwayse been,jeff tegue is great he still has some things to learn,and i feel like winning games will make him a star.Al Horford is the best hawk this year(even though josh smith is my boi)i get mad when i see josh do stupid stuff.all he has to do is attack everytime he get the ball,dont shoot unless u open.Korver is going to stay,deshawn is going to stay,zaza,and lou.everyone else step it up or d-legue.oooh before i submit amre stoudamire too,i forgot to put him opn that list.The hawks need a HIGHFLER CENTER or PF.because even though al is a PF he can still play center just as good.

  13. Henrik Jensen says:

    come on, Celtics just beat the Cavs, then lost to Bucks, and bucks lost to Cavs yesterday night, nba is not even started too much yet, you can see that Knicks, Heat, Grizzlies and Spurs have had a good start, and they will finish in playoff, but beside from that, you will first be able to see who is in playoff spot 3-6 when we are around 65-70 Games in the season, we have now like 25 games, relax, relax

    • Clippers says:

      Where are the Thunder and the Clippers? I think the top 4 teams in the west are already set, in no specific order:
      1. Oklahoma City Thunder
      2. Los Angeles Clippers
      3. Memphis Grizzlies
      4. San Antonio Spurs

      I don’t see any other west teams moving up and outplaying any one of these teams. I also don’t see any other team moving up to the 5 spot, where GSW is.

  14. newyorksteelo says:

    How can the Bulls lose to the Hawks after taking out the Knicks with exellent defense? I just don’t understand this. It’s mind boggling. Knicks need to start playing defense like an elite team should, and do it every night, or they can forget about being the best in the east.