The Atlanta Hawks have been rewarded with a Christmas Day game

Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks had a season out of the box last year. Battling injuries all season and a mid-season coaching change, the team finished fifth, not getting home-court advantage due to losing their season series with the New York Knicks. They then went on a dream playoff run which caught the attention of the nation.

They were only stopped in the Conference Finals by the eventual champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, after superstar point guard Trae Young was injured in a freaky manner. He stepped on the referee’s foot which caused a bone bruise in his ankle, which ended his effectiveness in the playoffs.

Still, the young Hawks outfit had shown that they were a force to be reckoned with. They have managed to bring back all of their significant players from last season and they have added some key depth to their bench. This will only make them better this season, but the question remains, have they done enough to stay ahead of the rest of the Eastern Conference?

The Atlanta Hawks will play on Christmas Day for the first time in two decades

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One of the marquee matchups in the NBA is to play on Christmas Day. This honor is only given to very few teams with only five games being played. The Hawks, despite having some successful teams over the journey, have not played a Christmas Day game since 1989 which is a long time.

They will play the New York Knicks in a playoff rematch. The Hawks can thank Young for this game because he added such entertainment value to the series that the NBA could not ignore the interest that this game would generate. He also managed to create such a rivalry with the Knicks in this series.

It is also a sign that the Hawks have made it back into the NBA’s elite, not only on their play but also their entertainment value. Who would not want to see John Collins finish a massive slam on Julius Randle’s head in a similar way that he did to Joel Embiid in the Philadelphia 76ers series?

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This is validation for the Hawks and the path they set themselves on four years ago when they drafted Collins. Yes, Young is the main drawcard but this rebuild started with the 19th pick in the 2017 draft, just after Travis Schlenk took over.  As Young said, the next step is to bring a Christmas Day game to Atlanta. A championship would almost guarantee that.