Although the Hawks are for real, they don’t look like an elite team just yet. Their defense is still porous, and the ownership situation needs to be resolved so that the team can make long-term personnel decisions. Right now, they look like a tough first-round matchup for the Detroit Pistons and a tough out in the second round if they win. No one will call it a fluke. Earlier this season, the balance of power shifted in the NBA from west to east; now the South is on the come-up.
Martin Johnson is a regular contributor to The Root.