I was seven years old when I went to my first Atlanta Hawks game. I remember walking with my mom and at the entrance. I wasn’t nervous, but I was excited to see the team play. One of the first things I noticed was the cheerleaders. They were so pretty, with their silver, sparkly pom-poms. I took tons of photos with them and my mom. Once we finished taking pictures, we headed to our seats.
During our time, they had activities to do like basketball and the bean bag game. I don’t remember whether they won or lost but that game changed my life. Since my first Hawks game, I fell in love with cheerleading and basketball. Then once school started, I tried out for cheerleading, and I made the team! If it weren’t for me going to that Hawks game, I wouldn’t have become a cheerleader.
Fast forward a few years later, and I started playing center for my school’s basketball team in 7th grade. This July, I will start playing for my local teen rec league. I’ve been following the Hawks for years, and this year’s season, in particular, caught my eye. The Hawks started this year under .500(14-20), but having a new coach has put them above .500 with a record of (27-11). The new coach is Nate McMillian. McMillian started as the assistant coach and became the interim coach when the former head coach Lloyd Pierce was released. He has 3 C’s that he preaches, “Stay calm, cool, and collected.” During McMillan’s first month on the job, he went on a nine-game winning streak, won 11 straight home games at State Farm Arena and was named head coach of the month in March. They’re now in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2017.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 1, 2021
For a recap of this current season, the first team, the Hawks, played was the New York Nicks. The first game of the series was neck in neck, and Atlanta’s star (Trae Young) hit the game-winning floater. In the second game, they lost. New York’s player (Derrick Rose) came through, and they took game two. In-game three, the scene changed. New York came to Atlanta; the Hawks won by nine points, with Trae Young posting with 21 points and 14 assists. In-game 4, they also won. Clint Capel had 15 rebounds and 10 points, and Trae Young had 27 points, followed by John Collins 22 points. All they have to do is win one more game in Madison Square Garden, and that’s what they did. On the day they played, I couldn’t watch the entire action, but the best part was when Trae Young made a deep three at the end of the game and bowed. Once the series finished, It was time for the next to start.
The next series was against the Philadelphia 76ers. They went to Philly, and everyone was booing for them and saying that they wouldn’t win. They did, however, have a twenty-point lead at the half. The 76ers are very resilient, so they went on a run. A huge one, they almost came back. In the end, they did win, but it was only by 4 points. They then played game two, which they lost. They lost by 16 points! In-game three, they came back to Atlanta once again, but they ended up losing. They had another chance for game four which they took advantage. They didn’t have a good start in game 4, but they still ended up winning by three points.
Next was game five; they were down by 20 at the half, but they went on a run and scored 40 points in the fourth quarter. They had a chance to come home and close the series, but they failed to do so. They had to go back to Philadelphia and win. That’s what they did. In-game six, they won by seven points. It was getting down to the wire. One team was making a basket, then the other came right back and made one. The winning play for Atlanta was Ben Simmons giving up an easy dunk to his teammate, who fouled. As a result, he went to the free-throw line, but he only made one out of two shots. Atlanta won the series!
Right now, the Hawks are in the conference final against the Milwaukee Bucks. They took game one from the Bucks in Milwaukee. Game two was a blowout for the Hawks. The Hawks didn’t lead the whole game, and they lost by 34 points. In game three, they were back in Atlanta. The game was tight until Trae Young went down after stepping on a referee’s foot. He ended up with a deep bone bruise as a result. In-game 4, all the Hawks stepped up. They had to leave their star player (Trae Young) out. Atlanta got off to a great start; they led by ten until the bucks took a time out. The Bucks did tie the game, but they never led the game. Everyone on the Hawks team was draining threes and dunking. The most heartbreaking thing that happened was Giannis Antetokounmpo going down. He hyperextended his left knee after contesting a dunk. He didn’t return for the rest of the game. Atlanta went on a run after that, scoring 25 and leading by 20. Before Giannis went down, they cut it to 10, but they couldn’t convert on the opportunity. In the end, Atlanta won by 22 and held the bucks to just 88 points.
As you can see, the Hawks have always had their ups and downs. Many people didn’t think the Hawks were good until they beat the Bucks. They didn’t take them seriously. The Hawks have a shirt they give out at games and It says, “Believe.” Nobody believed in them; when no one was on their side, they had their coach, and they had Atlanta. Now they’re looking to win and go to the Finals. This winning streak all comes back to the coaching change and their nine-game winning streak. They built confidence and used it on the court. All in all, the Hawks have come a long way and are looking to soar to the Finals.
Anaiyah Sims is a reporter for VOX Media Cafe 2021.