The Atlanta Hawks, a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia, has a rich history spanning over 70 years since their inception in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons.
As members of the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division in the NBA, they have had their share of rivalries with other teams, sparking intense matchups and unforgettable moments.
Delving into the Hawks’ rivalries, one of the most notable is with the Miami Heat. With both teams competing in the Southeast Division, a clash between these franchises often exemplifies a battle for dominance.
As the Heat built their superstar roster with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, contests against the Hawks proved even more thrilling.
In this article, we will explore the most intense and historic rivalries involving the Atlanta Hawks, highlighting the on-court drama, key players, and unforgettable moments that have defined these showdowns.
As NBA fans, prepare to be transported back in time and immerse yourself in the excitement and passion that these rivalries bring to the game of basketball.
The Atlanta Hawks have had several rivalries over the years that are worth mentioning.
Let’s discuss a few of them in detail.
The Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics have shared a rivalry dating back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when both teams were competing fiercely in the Eastern Conference.
The two franchises have faced each other numerous times in the playoffs, making their matchups even more intense. Some highlights from their rivalry include:
- Dominique Wilkins vs Larry Bird: The 1988 Game 7 playoff matchup between the Hawks and the Celtics showcased an epic scoring duel between superstars Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird. The game has since become a legendary moment in NBA history.
- 2016 First Round Playoffs: More recently, in 2016, the Hawks eliminated the Celtics in six games during the first round of the playoffs. This victory demonstrated the Hawks’ ability to contend with the best in the league.
The rivalry between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic has been growing since the early 2000s.
The two southeastern teams have been locked in playoff battles and competitive regular-season matchups. Key moments in their rivalry include:
- 2011 NBA Playoffs: In this memorable playoff series, the Hawks eliminated the Magic in six games, despite the Magic being the favorites to win the series. This upset victory highlighted the Hawks’ resilience and toughness.
The Atlanta Hawks’ rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers developed more recently as both teams started to emerge as powerhouses in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks and Cavaliers have faced off in multiple playoff series, with the Cavaliers often coming out on top. Key events in this rivalry include:
- 2015 Eastern Conference Finals: The Hawks had their best season in history during the 2014-2015 season, earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, they were swept by the Cavaliers led by LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. This defeat left the Hawks eager to exact revenge in future matchups.
- 2016 NBA Playoffs: Once again, the Cavaliers eliminated the Hawks from the playoffs in 2016, further fueling the rivalry between the two teams.
With these historical rivalries in mind, the Atlanta Hawks continue to build their legacy and compete with the best in the NBA.
Their matchups with these teams always generate excitement and high-level basketball for fans to enjoy.
The Atlanta Hawks’ Current Rivals
The Miami Heat have been a challenging opponent for the Atlanta Hawks throughout the years.
With a history of intense battles between the two teams, the rivalry has grown stronger. Both teams have had their fair share of playoff matchups and heated moments on the court.
- In recent years, this friendly rivalry has been fueled by competitive games and closeness in talent, making each meeting a must-watch for fans. As the two teams compete in the Southeast Division, they’re often battling for playoff positioning, adding to the stakes of each game.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are another rival that the Atlanta Hawks have faced, particularly due to their run-ins in the playoffs.
The young stars on each team have spiced up this rivalry as they have developed into prominent players in the league.
- The epic battles between Trae Young and RJ Barrett provide fans with plenty of suspenseful moments. The rivalry has grown more intense, with the games typically consisting of a high level of energy. Fans can count on this matchup continuously producing exhilarating, must-see moments.
Hawks’ rivalry with the Philadelphia 76ers has grown recently, mainly due to their playoff series in the past few years.
The 76ers have been on a rise to prominence, much like the Hawks, and as both teams aim to prove themselves, their meetups have gained higher stakes.
- The competition between these two teams showcases young talent, with the likes of Trae Young going head-to-head against Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. This rising rivalry has fostered a compelling atmosphere on the court, making it a treat for fans of both teams.
The Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets have had a growing rivalry due to their proximity in the Southeast Division.
Both teams have consistently competed for playoff spots, making their matchups important for positioning in the Eastern Conference. Fans from both cities eagerly anticipate these showdowns, leading to highly passionate games and a friendly but fierce competition between the two fan bases.
In recent years, the Hawks and Hornets have seen their share of talented players. Trae Young has emerged as a star for Atlanta, while LaMelo Ball has been making a name for himself with the Hornets.
As these young talents continue to develop, the rivalry between Atlanta and Charlotte is sure to grow even more intense.
Another regional rival for the Atlanta Hawks is the Washington Wizards. This rivalry is fueled by memorable moments and competitive spirit more than geographic proximity.
The Hawks and Wizards have battled it out in several regular season and playoff series over the years, with some close and hard-fought battles that have captured fans’ attention.
Although the Wizards have experienced fluctuations in their success, the games against Atlanta remain highly anticipated, and the fans from both teams relish the opportunity to brag about their victories.
It is worth noting that the Wizards have built a strong roster, with talents like Bradley Beal leading the way, keeping the momentum of this rivalry alive.
As both the Hornets and Wizards continue to be forces within the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks have their work cut out for them in managing these regional rivalries.
However, with Trae Young and an ever-improving roster, the Hawks have every reason to be confident heading into their battles against these foes.
The Atlanta Hawks have had their fair share of rivalries throughout their time in the NBA.
In this section, we focus on their playoff rivalries with the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Toronto Raptors.
One notable playoff rivalry for the Atlanta Hawks is with the Indiana Pacers. This rivalry became intense in the mid-’90s and early 2000s. The two teams have faced off in numerous playoff series, often leading to closely contested games which spark excitement among fans.
Atlanta and Indiana have both experienced a stubborn determination to win, forging a sense of enmity between the franchises. As both teams continue to develop, it’s likely this rivalry will continue to provide thrilling playoff moments.
The Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks have also been rivals in the playoff season. Although not as heated as the rivalry with the Indiana Pacers, this match-up has presented tense, competitive playoff games.
One memorable showdown was in the 2010 first round playoffs, where Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford led the Hawks to victory over the Bucks in a hard-fought, seven-game series. While their recent encounters may not be as frequent as with other rivals, the competition between these teams remains interesting.
Lastly, the Atlanta Hawks have seen a budding rivalry with the Toronto Raptors.
Though not a historic rivalry, the increasing competitiveness of the Raptors in recent years has led to a more intense play between the teams, making for more intense games during the playoffs.
As the landscape of the Eastern Conference continues to shift, the Atlanta Hawks have the opportunity to forge a strong playoff rivalry with the Toronto Raptors, adding to the intrigue of future post-season match-ups.
James is a big time NBA Golden State follower, who makes sure to catch games when he's in the area. He likes to follow International Soccer, with an interest in small town soccer club, Blackburn Rovers located in the North on the UK.