The Atlanta Hawks didn't exactly look like that version of the Hawks that we all dread -- the Chicago Bulls' 93-73 Game 6 victory was just that imposing. The Hawks fell back on many of their worst habits, of course, but they've looked much worse while still avoiding this kind of blowout.
Chicago advances to take on the Miami Heat in their first Eastern Conference Finals trip since the Michael Jordan years. The defense-centric, team-minded squad led by MVP Derrick Rose vs. Chris Bosh and LeBron James ... I think your rooting interests are pretty clearly defined, America, but I'm kind of starting to like Chris Bosh for some reason.
Carlos Boozer was given free run through Atlanta's defense, left alone for much of the night as he shot his way to 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Derrick Rose pitched 12 assists in perhaps Jeff Teague's shakiest game as a starter, albeit one that involved the Hawks point guard leaving with a sprained wrist.
Al Horford was invisible, turning in seven points and four rebounds, while Josh Smith filled up his stat line but showed anybody who thought he'd gotten over taking poor jumpers that ... well, he hasn't. Zaza Pachulia balled out -- 13 rebounds, nothing easy.
This Hawks' postseason will be remembered by too many as as failure. This team exorcised its Orlando Magic demons, found its best point guard in over a decade just sitting right there on the bench and took the potential NBA champs to six games. That's a success, though whether it was worth Joe Johnson's contract is an issue I'll leave to you.