Again, please check out the usual suspects for coherent thoughts and analysis on Game 2 (none of which will be pleasing, anyways). As per normal, we have no clue what to expect from the Hawks until we see their backs against the wall at home in the playoffs. It's getting tiresome, but it's their M.O. Also, until I settle into my seat on Saturday night, I'm just going to assume JoeJ is playing, so if you hear otherwise, don't let me know.
Speaking of the Hawks homecourt, I'd like to point toward a post over at FreeDarko that talks about the unique dichotomy between the city of Atlanta and its' basketball collective. As is the case with most FreeDarko jobs, the piece focuses on the strong racial identities that comprise Atlanta's rich history.
Unfortunately, I fail to see the connection between the two. The mish-mash of vibrant talent/occupants/players and top-down disorganization may be comparable for both ATL and the Hawks, but I don't think that Atlanta's racial history provides a link between the two, and that part of the author's thesis is a stretch; but I think there is another, similar direction that does work here.
Atlanta fans of all races, classes and point-of-origins are bandwagoners by-and-large when it comes to in-house support. Given the makeup of this city, transplants and lower per-capita incomes compared to most similar markets (not mutually exclusive), fans are hesitant to attend games often and engage themselves in the day-to-day followings of a team. And that's fine. I may have watched a shitton of Hawks games during the Jason Terry era, but I'm also a masochist. I certainly couldn't begrudge a Hawks fan for simply checking the box score and reading the game recap of a Hawks loss to the Wizards and subsequently focusing their attention elsewhere.
The fact of the matter is, Atlantans really do care and follow sports, even moreso then most major cities. The TV numbers prove that (seriously, click that link) for most sports, but especially for the NBA, which can in part attributed to the large black population in Atlanta. But as has been the case with the Braves, Thrashers and Falcons, Atlantans of any race aren't going to come out, watch and spend money on a losing franchise. So when the Hawks were losing all those years, it wasn't that ATL was a bad basketball town, but rather, that the locals don't want to spend money on a shit product (Sweetwater IPA excluded - HEYO!).
So the Hawks started winning, and what happened? Well, much like with the Braves in 1991 or the Falcons during the Vick era, the fans came out in droves. A significant homecourt advantage was suddenly omnipresent. The intimate nature of a basketball arena (not to mention the constant action) allows for louder crowds than an outdoor baseball game or larger domed football facility. Suddenly, the Hawks have one of the most significant home court advantages in the league. This shouldn't be surprising to anyone following Atlanta's demographics or fandom patterns over the years.
I love the diversity at Hawks games. I love the enthusiasm and passion and newness feel there is to being a Hawks fan again. It's like going through a brutal breakup with a girl and getting back together and starting the honeymoon period all over again. And that is where this current Hawks squad narrative runs parallel with their fans'.
This is all new to the players too. They're young, brash and confident. They're loud and they believe anything can happen. When shit gets bad, they're willing to pack it in (read some of the posts linked to above), but they always believe that they could be at another level were it not for certain hindrances (for both fans and players, this would be Woodson/ownership).
Sometimes it's best not to over-complicate things in sports. A newly enthused fan base is out there with pride, supporting a team they enjoy to watch playing a sport they love. The city of Atlanta and this Hawks team just fit. Maybe it wasn't preordained, but I could see how one would think that.